Klamath Wetlands Conservation

Klamath Wetland Aerial View. Still from “A Fighting Chance” film.

The Klamath Basin on the California-Oregon border has historically been home to a vast array of interconnected wetlands. These wetlands have long provided vital benefits for nature and people, ranging from water storage and filtration, flood protection, carbon storage, and important refuge for a diverse array of birds and other wildlife species. Over time, however, these wetlands have almost entirely been lost through damming and draining. And as climate change continues to fuel longer, more frequent, and more severe droughts, there is less water available than ever before for the remaining wetlands–most of which exist within the Klamath National Wildlife Refuge System managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. It’s critical that we work together to strike a balance by conserving existing wetlands and restoring degraded wetlands whenever and wherever possible.

A Fighting Chance

We are excited to share “A Fighting Chance,” a short film that answers key questions about why conserving and restoring wetlands is so important, what we can learn from the birds that depend on them, and how local communities can be part of the conservation solution.

Working Together to Help Wildlife

The Migratory Bird Conservation Partnership (Point Blue, Audubon California, and The Nature Conservancy) has been working to conserve and protect wetlands and working lands for migratory birds since 2010. We work together with private landowners and public agencies to advance sustainable land management solutions to benefit wildlife and people. The US Fish and Wildlife Service is a key partner in this work, given their role in managing National Wildlife Refuges. These refuges were established to arrest the loss of over 90% of wetlands and protect what remained; water insecurity and drought unfortunately have continued to result in functional losses of these habitats today.

Long-billed Dowitcher fitted with a satellite tracker in the Klamath Basin wetlands. Still from “A Fighting Chance.”

As part of our ongoing research, we recently deployed cutting-edge satellite trackers onto shorebirds with a rapidly declining population that are especially dependent on wetland habitats of California, the Long-billed Dowitcher. We need a clear picture of where these robin-sized birds with bills twice as long as their heads travel after migrating through the Klamath Basin. Most importantly, we want to know how drought and the lack of available water at some of their regular destinations might impact their migration.

Where might these birds go when there isn’t water in the Klamath Basin or at any of their other stopover points? And what might happen to their population if we can’t help make sure there is water when and where they need it? Why is it so critical to conserve and restore wetlands around California and beyond?

We start to answer these and other questions in the video above, which features footage from bird tagging operations in the Klamath Basin and interviews with experts and local stakeholders.

Click here to follow the dowitchers on their journey from the Klamath Basin.

Additional Resources

Interested in learning more about the Klamath Basin? Here are some additional resources:

Get Involved

Get Involved

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