Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex

Why are the Refuges Here?

Historically, the Klamath Basin was dominated by approximately 185,000 acres of shallow lakes and freshwater marshes. these extensive wetlands attracted peak fall concentrations of over 6 million waterfowl and supported abundant populations of other water birds including American white pelican, double crested cormorant, and several heron species.

Wetlands Drastically Reduced

In 1905, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation initiated the Klamath Reclamation Project to convert the lakes and marshes of the Lower Klamath and Tule Lake areas to agricultural lands. As these wetlands receded, the reclaimed lands were opened to agricultural development and settlement. Today, less than 25% of the historic wetlands remain.

Refuges Protect What Remains

To conserve much of the Basin's remaining wetland habitat, six National Wildlife Refuges have been established; Lower Klamath, Tule Lake, and Clear Lake Refuges in California, and Bear Valley, Upper Klamath, and Klamath Marsh Refuges in southern Oregon. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages these Refuges to enhance wildlife and benefit the American people. Agricultural and water programs are coordinated under an agreement between the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Reclamation.

Diverse Habitats Support Diverse Wildlife

Klamath Basin Refuges consist of a variety of habitats including freshwater marshes, open water, grassy meadows, coniferous forests, sagebrush and juniper grasslands, agricultural lands, and rocky cliffs and slopes. These habitats support diverse and abundant populations of resident and migratory wildlife with 433 species having been observed on or near the Refuges. In addition, each year the Refuges serve as a migratory stopover for about three-quarters of the Pacific Flyway waterfowl, with peak fall concentrations of over 1 million birds.

Contact Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex

Ron Cole
Refuge Manager
4009 Hill Road
Tulelake, California  96134
Phone: (530)-667-2231
Fax: (530)-667-8337


Service Area

Services provided in:
  • Modoc County, California
  • Siskiyou County, California
  • Klamath County, Oregon

To request additions or corrections to this entry email the Administrator