The Klamath Basin, on the California-Oregon border, had been in the news because of water shortages due to the drought in the United States’ Pacific Northwest. Diverse interest groups have come into conflict over the limited availability of Klamath Project water. In order to protect endangered Sucker Fish and threatened Coho Salmon in Upper Klamath Lake, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation cut off the flow of irrigation water to farmers in the project in April 2001. This action was supported by environmental groups, as well as commercial fisherman and Indian tribes that depend on Chinook Salmon. However, it also meant devastating losses for the farmers who require irrigation water from the Klamath Project, and potential adverse effects on wetland birds that rely on the Lower Klamath and Tule Lake marshes. Protests and civil disobedience by local farmers have focused on the project headgates at the south end of Upper Klamath Lake in the town of Klamath Falls. Citing a minor rise in the waters in Upper Klamath Lake, the Department of the Interior announced on July 25, 2001, that some water would be released to farmers.
This image (STS058-85-74) shows the Klamath Basin in October 1993, as photographed by astronauts aboard the Space Shuttle. This year featured relatively normal conditions, although it followed immediately after a series of drought years. The larger square areas represent management units on the wildlife refuges; darker areas in the units are flooded. The smaller square areas are fields of irrigated agriculture.
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