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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes
KLAMATH NWRC: “Listen to the Swans” - An Appreciation for the Lower Klamath Refuge
Region 8, August 8, 2008
Refuge Manager Ron Cole talks to the news media about the importance of the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge. Ron discussed the important role the Refuge plays for both migratory birds and people. (All photos: USFWS)
Refuge Manager Ron Cole talks to the news media about the importance of the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge. Ron discussed the important role the Refuge plays for both migratory birds and people. (All photos: USFWS) - Photo Credit: n/a
Bob Fields, a former refuge manager who first came to Tulelake in 1974, talked about the key historical events that shaped the Lower Klamath over the last Century. Bob helped raise awareness of bald eagles in the local community by sponsoring the first Bald Eagle Conference, held in Klamath Falls in 1980.  The Bald Eagle Conference has now become the Winter Wings Festival.
Bob Fields, a former refuge manager who first came to Tulelake in 1974, talked about the key historical events that shaped the Lower Klamath over the last Century. Bob helped raise awareness of bald eagles in the local community by sponsoring the first Bald Eagle Conference, held in Klamath Falls in 1980. The Bald Eagle Conference has now become the Winter Wings Festival. - Photo Credit: n/a
Neighbors of the Lower Klamath Refuge also got into the sprit. Here, the Tulelake, Calif., Post Office provided commemorative hand-cancellation stamps to all attendees.
Neighbors of the Lower Klamath Refuge also got into the sprit. Here, the Tulelake, Calif., Post Office provided commemorative hand-cancellation stamps to all attendees. - Photo Credit: n/a
Pat Speers, a volunteer with Badger Run Wildlife Rehabilitation, shows off a red tailed hawk as a young birder keeps company with an American Kestrel.  Speers’ organization is dedicated to the life long care of injured and orphaned wildlife if they are unable to live free.
Pat Speers, a volunteer with Badger Run Wildlife Rehabilitation, shows off a red tailed hawk as a young birder keeps company with an American Kestrel. Speers’ organization is dedicated to the life long care of injured and orphaned wildlife if they are unable to live free. - Photo Credit: n/a
Coming out of retirement for one day, Steve Thompson, former Regional Director, talks about the future of the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge. Thompson congratulated the local community for having the courage to come together and address difficult and challenging issues related to water allocation. Thompson noted the proposed Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement will benefit the Refuge and local farming communities.
Coming out of retirement for one day, Steve Thompson, former Regional Director, talks about the future of the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge. Thompson congratulated the local community for having the courage to come together and address difficult and challenging issues related to water allocation. Thompson noted the proposed Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement will benefit the Refuge and local farming communities. - Photo Credit: n/a
Luther Horsely, a farmer who leases land on the Refuge, talked about the important role farming and wildlife has played in the local community for the past 100 years. The Refuge’s Walking Wetlands program strengthens these ties by providing benefits to both wildlife and rural traditions.
Luther Horsely, a farmer who leases land on the Refuge, talked about the important role farming and wildlife has played in the local community for the past 100 years. The Refuge’s Walking Wetlands program strengthens these ties by providing benefits to both wildlife and rural traditions. - Photo Credit: n/a

Matt Baun, Klamath NWRC

The Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge was the nation’s first refuge set aside specifically for the benefit and preservation of waterfowl by order of President Theodore Roosevelt on Aug. 8, 1908.  Exactly 100 years to the day, nearly 200 people gathered at the refuge to commemorate this special corner of the world. 

 

On August 8, 2008, joined the refuge to celebrate a century of conservation in one of the West’s most important and spectacular spots to view and appreciate migratory waterfowl and other wildlife.   Festivities included a barbecued luncheon, live bird exhibit, the introduction of a special hand-cancelling stamp from the U.S. Postal Service in Tulelake, Calif., and a number of reflections about the history of the refuge in the form of historical photographs, maps and speeches. Attendees came to the refuge eager from neighboring communities, others from Sacramento and Portland, some came from even further away.  On hand were tribal leaders, local dignitaries, farmers, conservationists, sportsmen and bird watchers. 

 

In a poignant speech, Refuge Manager Ron Cole shared his thoughts about why the refuge is so special.  Here is an excerpt of his remarks:

 

“Recent times have taught us that because we draw life from the Klamath River, we really are River People, too.  As such, our community stretches from the headwaters of the Williamson River to the mouth of the Pacific Ocean.  In the future we know change will come upon us fast and that we will be challenged like no generation before us to save a part of the natural and human culture that makes up our heritage.  All of us along the Klamath are now in a partnership to save a common heritage.

 

This past spring, I was driving early one morning across this highway behind you I came upon something that made me pull off to the side, turn off my engine, and roll down my window.  The cold morning air felt good.  There before me, were about 50,000 tundra swans.  Close to half of the entire population in the Pacific flyway.  I listened and here is what I thought….

 

They pay no attention to our calendars.  Their arrival is synchronized with some ancient timepiece.  Their voices are a symphony of crooning echoes that only they understand.  To hear half of the Pacific Flyway population of tundra swans, sharing tales of travel no doubt passed down from generation to generation, transports the spirit to a special place.

Mount Shasta provides these flocks their northern compass point with which to mark their journey from the warm, southern marshes of California.  Shasta glows pink, looming large and out of proportion as if painted by both child and master artist.    For weeks these birds with their whiter-than-snow feathers, have been building in numbers at Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge.  This is live theatre at its finest.  Their play is beautiful, entertaining, timeless, but with purpose. 

 

To truly understand the purpose, the stories of those who passed through the Basin before us, to learn the secrets of the ancient timepiece and what the future may hold for us all, take the time and listen to the swans.”

 

-- Ron Cole, Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge, Aug. 8, 2008.

Contact Info: Matt Baun, 530-842-5763, matt_baun@fws.gov