Restoring Balance to the Klamath Basin

Stretching from the high desert in southern Oregon to the redwood forests of northern California, the Klamath Basin covers a vast area over 10 million acres. The basin once contained over 350,000 acres of marshes, wet meadows and shallow lakes, and major runs of salmon and steelhead, creating the third largest fishery on the west coast.

Though changed, the basin continues to host an enormous number of migratory birds, and is the western hotspot for viewing major migrations along the Pacific Flyway.

  • White-faced Ibis at Tule Lake
    A flock of White-faced Ibis fly across Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge at sunset.
  • Sandhill Cranes
    Sandhill Cranes spread their wings above Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge.
  • Snow Geese
    Snow Geese flare up off of Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge.
  • American Avocets
    American Avocets foraging on Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge.

Unfortunately, the natural resources of this unique, natural basin has suffered through decades of abuse and mismanagement.

A massive federal irrigation project drained 80 percent of the region's wetlands, collapsing the area's once-mighty fish runs. A series of aging dams on the Klamath River continue to block salmon and steelhead from reaching over 300 miles of historic habitat, and in September of 2002, the Klamath suffered one of the worst fish kills in U.S. history.

For nearly two decades Oregon Wild has been a leading voice for conservation to this important region, working to bring resource demands back into balance with what the basin can naturally provide.

Oregon Wild's Klamath Basin webpages:

Find additional Klamath Basin stories and updates on the Oregon Wild Blog, and learn more about Oregon Wild's vision for the Klamath.

All photos by Brett Cole.