Klamath Basin Klamath Marsh
The 40,646 acre Klamath Marsh supports a wide variety of unusual wildlife; including Sandhill Crane, Yellow Rail, Spotted Frog, Great Gray Owl, Rocky Mountain elk, and more common species such as the Bald Eagle, Golden Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, Canadian Geese, pelicans, herons, grebes, ducks and migratory bird species. Widespread cattle grazing, water diversions for growing alfalfa, and pesticide spraying to control Clearwing Grasshoppers has degraded water quality in the past.
Built around 1916 to divert water to irrigated lands near Chiloquin, OR, the dam blocks 95% of the historic Lost River and Short Nosed sucker spawning habitat on the Sprague River. Spawning and rearing habitat in the Sprague River has been degraded by channelization, sedimentation, increased water temperatures, high nutrient concentrations, and the resulting high algae and aquatic plant growth from agricultural, grazing and logging operations in the Sprague River Valley. The Dam is scheduled for removal soon.
Upper Klamath Lake
Nearly 30 miles long and up to eight miles wide, Upper Klamath Lake
is the largest body of freshwater west of the Rockies, and contains the largest population of
endangered Lost River and Shortnose Suckers in the Klamath Basin. Historical diking and draining of the lake for grazing and irrigation has reduced the lake by 30%, and wetlands and marshes by 66%. Once free of algae, the lake is now plagued by fish killing algae blooms, sediment runoff from tributaries, and high nutrient concentrations from cattle grazing.
Klamath Reclamation Project
Over 200,000 acres of irrigation are provided to 1,400 farms in the Klamath Basin. There are 19 canals that total 185 miles, and hundreds of miles of lateral channels and drains. Most of this water is drawn from the Upper Klamath Lake and used for irrigation until it reaches Tule Lake, where it is pumped back through the Lower Klamath Refuges and re-circulated into the Klamath River. The returning water is warmer, lower in dissolved oxygen, and contains high levels of nitrogen and phosphorus which are harmful to fish.