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Project aims to mend lake shore

H&N photo by Andrew Mariman
Waves and burrowing animals have caused erosion along the shores of Lake Ewauna. Dani Watson of OSU Extension Service is heading a plan to stop it.

July 1, 2006 by Steve Kadel, Herald and News

Waves and burrowing animals have carved deeply into Lake Ewauna's shore.

But a test program this fall might be the cure. The Lake Ewauna Wetland Enhancement Project will use a rock wall to slow wave action and prevent erosion.

The bank, which often is at 90 degrees or undercut in concave fashion, will be reshaped to slope up at a 45-degree angle. That's intended to thwart muskrats and other animals' attempts to burrow.

Vegetation will be planted where the bank slope is changed.

Repair work along the Wingwatchers' trail is headed by Dani Watson of the Oregon State University Extension Service and Klamath Watershed Council.

“Historically they've put log booms out,” she said. “It stops the top level of water.”

But that does nothing to water surging toward land under the logs. Thus the wall extending from what Watson calls “a nice hard pan” on lake bottom up to the water surface.

A 120-yard section of shoreline will be treated as a test. If it works - a determination that will take a few years - more of the lake's shore will be treated, Watson said.

“We'll have a clue after a year, but not a definitive answer,” she said.

The wall will be about 30 yards offshore in 2 feet of water. An excavator will be used to put rocks into the water. The operator must place the rocks carefully to avoid stirring up sediment, Watson said. The test project will cost $50,000, including engineering design and a consultant's advice. It's measured by three gauges placed at three shoreline locations.

Mark Buettner, a fisheries biologist for FWS, acknowledged the lake level does not currently meet the biological opinion's requirement. But he said the agency has OK'd the temporary discrepancy, which was due to circumstances beyond Reclamation's control.

Analyses by Reclamation and FWS conclude the current level will provide adequate sucker habitat this year.

Lake water that filled Caledonia Marsh will likely stay there at least until fall, Buettner said. Pumping it back into Upper Klamath “wasn't deemed practical” because of the cost and difficulty of the task, he said.

Meanwhile, Reclamation officials have called on water bank suppliers to pump well water into the irrigation system.

“We have everything available turned on and running for us,” said Cecil Lesley, chief of Reclamation's water and land division. “We will continue (using) the water bank until it's gone or we match the required elevation in the lake.”

Another factor in reaching the desired level begins today, when the amount of Klamath River water flowing through Iron Gate dam in California will be reduced by about two-thirds.

Flow requirements called for 2,900 cubic feet of water per second to course through the dam. However, that number dropped to 1,000 CFS at midnight Friday.

Lesley estimated it will take about nine days to make the transition.

Reclamation spokeswoman Rae Olsen noted “seasonal inflows” to Klamath Lake have been lower than anticipated. The situation might be caused by low groundwater levels from several years of drought, she said.

However, things look good for irrigators this summer, said Reclamation's acting area manager Christine Karas.

“We do not anticipate any shortages to the Project,” she said. “The Fish and Wildlife Service is really working with us on this.”




Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:14 AM  Pacific

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