We enjoyed an easy upstream paddle on the Williamson, feeling wind in the willows and sun on our shoulders. We found trails of beavers, off duty from building elaborate mounds and stick dams that spanned the river. Resident bald eagles perched high in ponderosas. Before the Klamath Irrigation Project of 1905, this area was a marvel, with the third largest salmon run in the West and over seven million waterfowl visiting the Basin each year to rest, refuel, and breed. The question now is: Klamath Lake and Tule Lake, pelicans or potatoes? The “confluence” of rivers and marshes, agribusiness and egrets is a complex one. Add to the mix the native Modoc and Yurok, Hoopa and Karuk, for whom salmon have been spiritual, nutritional, and commercial essentials. We were treated to a perfect autumn weekend and sightings of thousands of birds on land and water and in flight, from grebes and coots to cormorants and white pelicans. A sight we won’t soon forget is hundreds of white egrets perched atop masses of compacted bulrushes. From a distance, they appeared to be delicately balanced on just a single green rush. On our third day in the Basin, we visited the Wood River, a successful restoration project. A former cattle ranch has been restored to marsh. This rich and beautiful natural filter now sends the cleanest water in the area to the Klamath River and resident salmon. Our guides for this 3 day exploration were Wendell Wood and his wife Kathy from Oregon Wild. Sharing the adventure were:Members: Lana Lindstrom, Brenda Kameenui, Nancy Whitfield, Patricia Mac Afee, Chris Stockdale, Nola Nelson, Effie Neth, Sue Meyers.
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