Can a Wildlife Refuge Become A Ghost Town?



  1. 1. a prolonged period of abnormally low rainfall, leading to a shortage of water

And lack of snow pack in our neck of the world.

Drought is never a good thing anytime. Not good for the mountains, not good for the farmers and ranchers, not good for the wildlife and waterfowl. It is downright depressing.

In our area, we are in an extreme drought once again. However this year, this early it seems so much different than in the past since I have lived here. Maybe I am just seeing it though the lens differently.

Water is not being released to where it normally goes in the Klamath Basin. One major downfall for this, is the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge. The first migratory waterfowl refuge established by Theodore Roosevelt in 1908. What he must have been able to see back then I bet was amazing.

My post is just a stark look at reality. Yes politics are involved in water always. It is just not something that goes away. And that is sad. What if the Refuge really doesn’t get any more water? Will that affect the migratory route along the Pacific Flyway?

The Pacific Flyway is a major north-south flyway for migratory birds in America, extending from Alaska to Patagonia. Every year, migratory birds travel some or all of this distance both in spring and in fall, following food sources, heading to breeding grounds, or travelling to overwintering sites.

We know first hand what migrates through here yearly. And we know the numbers are low. Also when water is low in the winter, if there is not enough open water for the passing through birds, that brings disease. And we know what happens with that. We lose even more birds. It’s a vicious circle.

We have seen first hand this year the difference with minimal or no water.

The Bald Eagles we used to see everywhere are decreased in numbers, there are only a few places that have water on the refuge. Fortunately those places can’t be accessed by people, it is a sanctuary area for the birds. There are still a few eagles, but not the numbers we have seen in the past. Let me be clear, I am not a biologist or an expert in any means on this subject. I am only writing what I have seen. It is just so different.

The husband and I went for our weekly drive yesterday to the refuge. I went for the sole purpose of not looking for eagles and other birds, I went to take pictures of the difference between this spring and last spring. Soon there should be goslings. This year I seriously doubt we will see many or if any at all. The canals are ghost towns, with tumbleweeds laying in the mucky water.

This is not a happy canal.

This is a very happy canal!!!

It is devastating from a photographers point of view. This refuge gets hundreds of visitors, we have still seen people out and about, but they are probably wondering where the water is.

We have our favorite place to visit. Full of water and life and sounds. Beautiful bird sounds from geese, coots, wrens, blackbirds and more. I always say I am going to get there at sunrise and film the sun coming up over the water and listen to the sounds. Below are the last few years in our favorite area.

Do I dare show you what it is like now?

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like it one bit.

As you drive around we have other places to see different things. When we drive to the willows road, we shoot the eagles, herons and egrets. Across from where the eagles are there is a huge area that has a ton of water and you can get an amazing video of sounds from all the birds behind you.

Across the road from the willows in 2019
Across the road from the willows in 2021.

Quite a difference eh? Can you imagine what the birds must feel as they know they were getting close to their favorite winter resting ground? They are flying around and all of a sudden their path has been disrupted.

I totally know the feeling little buddy!!!

Deep on the south end of the refuge is an amazing area that the birds like to hang out with the view of Mount Shasta in the background. What an amazing reflection in the water as they swim eat and rest.

Beautiful Mt Shasta Reflection
Although Mt Shasta is still beautiful… We have no beautiful reflection.

I think you get the picture of what I am saying. A picture is worth a thousand words. At this point, I have no more words.

We will still go to the refuge, maybe if we get some spring rain. I know you can’t control the weather and the snow pack, but on the other side, one entity holding the strings (or water valves) isn’t right. Once again that is taking you back to politics. And I don’t want those on my page.

We will savor the pictures we have, and enjoy the time we had during spring and summer and maybe this year we will find another route to take.

I don’t know how you feel about this post, but it was just something I needed to get off my chest. I am sad. I don’t like being sad.

Get out there and shoot something new this season! Enjoy the fact that spring is around the corner!!!

Happier Times!!!

Be Nice Humans

Tracy Lynn