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Converting 3000 acres Tulana Farms to wetland to improve UK water quality

Herald and News, May 1, 2021 This week in Klamath Basin History

KBC NOTE: 97,160 acres of agricultural land has been converted into wetlands from ag as primary water usage through 2006 above Klamath Lake. Wetlands use nearly 2ce as much water as ag lands. One ranch at a time, government agencies and TNC promised that these farm and ranch acquisitions would save water, improve water quality, benefit fish, and store water for the rest of the irrigators and put more water into the Klamath River. The opposite is true.

25 years ago - May 2, 1996

More than 3,000 acres of valuable farmland beside Upper Klamath Lake would be converted to marsh and wetlands under an agreement announced Wednesday before the Klamath County Commissioners.

Mark Stern, project coordinator for the Nature Conservancy, said a general agreement has been reached for the purchase of Tulana Farms, a 4700-acre tract at the mouth of the Williamson River. Most of the land would be flooded to create marsh and wetlands while about 1,700 acres would remain in agricultural production.

Restoration of marshes and wetlands on Tulana Farms is described by some as the most significant step that could be taken to improve water quality in Upper Klamath Lake.

Commissioner Dave Henzel expressed extreme disappointment in the project. The parcel along the Williamson River was once owned by a partnership that included Henzelís father, Ben Henzel, and uncle, Dick Henzel, as well as Dave and Dan Liskey and all their wives.

The land was reclaimed in the 1920s by the California Oregon Power Co. which raised a long series of dikes along the lakeshore and banks of the river.

Many experts believe the elimination of the wetlands disrupted the natural process for reducing nutrients in the water flowing into Upper Klamath Lake. Those nutrients, unchecked, have contributed to the growth of blue-green algae in the lake.

A similar marsh restoration project is under way on the former 3,200-acre Wood River Ranch, which lies at the mouth of the Wood River on Agency Lake, only a few miles from Tulana Farms.



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