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(Klamath) Marsh’s future under review
  Plans look at water management in wildlife refuge

* Klamath Marsh plan open for comment

  By Jill Aho, Herald and News 8/20/09
     The Klamath Marsh National Wildlife Refuge is undergoing a public review period for a new plan on how the refuge in northern Klamath County will be managed for the next 15 years.

   Four people attended a presentation Tuesday at the Shilo Inn in Klamath Falls on the revised draft conservation plan. Another presentation was scheduled for Wednesday evening in Chiloquin.

   T he plan presents three options, and attendee s’ questions dealt with practices currently in place and the limiting factors of different management options.  

   40,000 acres

   The more than 40,000 - acre refuge attracts thousands of migratory birds each year and is home to the largest known population of yellow rails west of the Rocky Mountains. It also provides habitat for Oregon’s threatened spotted frog. The Williamson River travels through the marsh, as does a portion of Big Springs Creek.

   Since its establishment in 1958, the marsh has been managed using canals and diversion structures installed prior to acquisition by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Ser vice, said former refuge manager Carol Damberg.  

   Wetlands are created using water diverted from the Williamson River in spring, and some areas are dry by summer, Damberg said. One of the plan’s options is to continue management in this way.

   The other two management options include restoration of historic meanders in both the Williamson River and Big Springs Creek by using period images to estimate how the river moved historically, said Ron Cole, refuge complex manager.

   “ This is an opportunity to do some very significant river restoration,” he said. “That marsh, as best we can tell, was a big, gigantic sponge. We think over time, this will replenish the hydrology.”

   Effects unknown  

   It i s u n k now n at this time what effect restoration of the river would have on the way water f lows through the marsh. Studies of elevations and modeling would be used to help identify what would happen, Damberg said. Water allocation and rights also are concerns, he said.

   Two of the three options would build a new visitors center, with one option adding to visitor services   servation plan.

   “I think it’s very productive. It’s nice to be able to get your concerns addressed and have your fears allayed,” Kisling said.

   “I really think in the future, wildlife viewing will be a lot bigger than it  

   Charlotte Ann Kisling, a frequent visitor to the Klamath Marsh and other refuges in the complex, mentioned that restrooms were not a part of either plan and could increase visitor numbers.

   Kisling appreciated having the opportunity to provide input on the conby   installing photo blinds, creating maps for auto tours on existing Forest Service roads and some signs.

   Boating and fishing

Boating and fishing activities would continue to be allowed at Wocus Bay, where a boat ramp exists.  

   is now.”































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