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Refuges receive stimulus money

A variety of projects planned in the region

By LEE JUILLERAT, Herald and News 5/17/09

   The Modoc National Wildlife Refuge near Alturas will receive more than $1 million in federal stimulus money for improvements, while lesser amounts are going to three other Klamath Basin refuges.
   Alexandra Pitts, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s California regional office, said the $1.08 million at the Modoc will be used to build housing for volunteers and seasonal employees, replace a shop building and help fund a student employee.
   A 1,200-square-foot building for seasonal workers and volunteers will replace a converted mobile home. The new 4,000-square-foot shop will replace the existing shop built in the 1960s. Both will be solar compatible.
   The student will participate in the agency’s STEP — Student Temporary Employment Program — that is effectively a paid internship.
   Pitts does not know when the construction projects will go to bid, but all work must be done within 18 months.
   “These projects are important to the refuge and the program,” she said.

Lower Klamath and Tule Lake
   The Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge will receive $210,000 for various deferred maintenance projects, including replacing water control structures and improving roads, while the Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge will receive $245,000 for its Walking Wetland restoration program.

            The Walking Wetlands program involves leasing agricultural lands on the refuge that are cycled between shallow water wetlands and crops. The project builds wetland infrastructure on refuge lands leased to local farmers.
   The stimulus money will be used to create a block of 1,300 acres that will be flooded for two years this fall. In 2010, the land will be returned to crops for three to five years. The lands will then be flooded for two years, repeating the cycle.
   Other refuges in the Klamath Basin complex — Clear Lake, Klamath Marsh, Bear Valley and Upper Klamath — did not receive funding.

   The Sheldon-Hart Mountain National Wildlife Refuges Complex in Lakeview will receive $185,000, mostly for deferred maintenance projects.
   Sheldon-Hart complex manager Paul Steblein said the funds would be split between the two refuges. The Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge is located in eastern Lake County near Plush while the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge is east of Lakeview just south of the Oregon-Nevada state line. He said projects would focus on energy conservation, with the work being coordinated through an ongoing partnership with Oregon Institute of Technology.
   “For us, most of the work qualifies as deferred maintenance,” Steblein said.

   The biggest Southern Oregon refuge project will be at the Malheur National Refuge, a favorite place for birders.
   Most of nearly $3.7 million will be used to repair or replace aging dams and water delivery structures to ensure that redband trout can make it to their spawning grounds.
   The work, which will result in about 30 jobs, includes repairing 2.8 miles of a water delivery canal that is the principal fish passage and primary diversion structure in the Blitzen River system; replacing the unscreened 45-foot Buckaroo Dam; modifying Page Springs dam; and replacing fish passage systems and screens at Grain Camp, Busse, Sodhouse and Dunn Dams.
   The refuge also will implement energy efficiency improvements at refuge buildings.

Regional projects receiving funding
Oregon    Sheldon-Hart National Wildlife Refuges:

$185,000 for deferred maintenance projects, including replacing incandescent lighting and appliances with energy efficient items and installing programmable thermostats. The money will be split between the two.

Malheur National Wildlife Refuge:

$3.7 million, mostly for rehabilitation and improvement projects to benefit passage for
redband trout.
California    Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge:

$210,000, for deferred maintenance projects such as rehabilitating roads and replacing water control structures.

Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge:

$245,000 for the Walking Wetlands program.

Modoc National Wildlife Refuge:

$1.08 million for various deferred maintenance projects.
An information hut greets bird watchers and visitors at the Lower Klamath Refuge.
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