Restoring refuges - Wildlife refuges benefit
from stimulus funds
bring Caspian tern project to Siskiyou County, Siskiyou
Daily News 8/12/09. "...the Tulelake reserve rock island’s
cost is approximately $1.1 million, the Orems unit rock
island’s cost is approximately $650,000 and the Sheepy Lake
floating island’s cost is approximately $2.3 million...an
estimated colony of 10,000 nesting pairs of Caspian terns on
Rice Island in the Columbia River were consuming approximately
6 million to 25 million salmonid smolts per year, according to
a 1999 USACE report."
By Lee Juillerat, Herald and News October 15, 2009
photo - A new two-acre island for Caspian terns, shown before it
was flooded, was built at the Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge.
Another island was built at the Lower Klamath Lake National
Wildlife Refuge. The project was funded through the Army Corps of
Engineers with a stimulus grant and cost
Klamath Basin refuges, along with the birds, waterfowl and farmers
that use them, are benefiting from federal stimulus grants.
Ron Cole, manager of the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuges,
said a recently completed project provides habitat for Caspian
terns while a newly awarded contract will help expand the
complex’s Walking Wetlands Restoration project.
“It helps us move our water more efficiently and effectively,”
Cole said of the Walking Wetlands project, which includes
constructing levees at the Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge.
The Walking Wetlands Restoration Project builds wetland
infrastructure on refuge lands leased to local farmers. Core
trenching and refill is a practice used in the construction of
levees in highly organic soils, and ensures no large cracks exist
under the levee system used in the project.
When completed, the project will create a block of 1,300 acres to
be flooded for two years beginning later this fall and winter.
The land will be returned to crops for a period of three to five
years. The lands will then be flooded for two years, repeating the
cycle of Walking Wetlands. Cole said the Walking Wetlands program
has added about 7,500 acres of new wetlands.
Sierra Equipment Rental of Glenn, Calif., is doing core trenching
and refill for the $29,227 project funded by the American Recovery
and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
“This contract to fund Walking Wetlands is vitally important to
wildlife and is helping rural communities in the Klamath Basin,”
Cole said the Walking Wetlands program reduced the use of
chemicals used to combat pests and noxious weeds, with benefits
lasting from three to 10 years following the rotation.
'It is not often that we can demonstrate significant environmental
benefits while at the same time improve rural agricultural
economics.' - Ron Cole, manager, Klamath Basin National Wildlife
Caspian tern islands
An earlier stimulus project helped fund two rock islands for
Caspian terns, one at the Tule Lake refuge and another at the
neighboring Lower Klamath Lake National Wildlife Refuge. Cole said
another floating island is planned on the Lower Klamath as part of
the same project.
The two-acre tern island on the Tule Lake Refuge cost $936,000 to
build. The one-acre island at the Lower Klamath Lake refuge cost
$630,000, and the expected cost of the planned floating island is
The projects are funded by the Army Corps of Engineers through a
The Caspian tern projects are part of a larger effort designed to
provide more habitat for terns and reduce their impacts in the
Columbia River Basin.
Studies showed that a colony of an estimated 10,000 nesting pairs
of terns on a Columbia River island consumed from 6 million to 25
million salmonid smolts annually, which has impacted salmon
Along with making that island habitat less attractive, new tern
sites were developed and are under development in Oregon and
California, including two near Adel and Summer Lake in Lake
“They’ll come in next spring and summer,” Cole predicted of the
terns, noting the species already uses Clear Lake, “so this is a
pretty logical place.”
About the Tule Lake Wildlife Refuge
The Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1928 and
is managed as part of the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge
The refuge spans 39,116 acres of mostly open water and croplands.
Farmers lease about 17,000 acres of the refuge under a U.S. Bureau
of Reclamation-administered program.
Refuge permit holders farm another 1,900 acres of cereal grain and
The crops, along with waste grain and potatoes from the lease
program, are a major food source for migrating and wintering