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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes
TULE LAKE NWR: Contract Awarded to Construct Levees for Walking Wetlands Restoration Project
Region 8, September 29, 2009
Walking wetland at Tule Lake NWR. (photo: USFWS)
Walking wetland at Tule Lake NWR. (photo: USFWS) - Photo Credit: n/a

by Scott Flaherty, Region 8 External Affairs
SACRAMENTO – The Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today announced the award of a contract to construct levees as part of the Walking Wetlands Restoration Project at Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Tule Lake, Calif.

“With this investment of Recovery Act funds, we are putting people to work today to make improvements that will help the habitat and benefit the region for many years to come,” U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said.

Sierra Equipment Rental of Glenn, Calif. was awarded a contract to perform core trenching and refill, one of two sub-projects required in construction of levees needed for the wetlands project. The $29,227 award is funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

The Walking Wetlands Restoration Project builds wetland infrastructure on refuge lands leased to local farmers. Core trenching and refill is a practice used in the construction of levees in highly organic soils, and ensures no large cracks exist under the levee system used in the project. When complete, the project will create a block of 1,300 acres to be flooded for two years beginning in the fall of 2009/2010. The land will then be returned to crops for a period of three to five years. The lands will then be flooded for two years, repeating the cycle of “Walking Wetlands.” To date, the Walking Wetland program has added over 7,000 acres of new wetlands to the Klamath Basin.

Established in 1928, Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge is managed as part of the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex. The refuge encompasses 39,116 acres of mostly open water and croplands. Approximately 17,000 acres are leased by farmers under a program administered by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. Refuge permit holders farm another 1,900 acres of cereal grain and alfalfa. These crops, together with the waste grain and potatoes from the lease program are a major food source for migrating and wintering waterfowl. “This contract to fund Walking Wetlands is vitally important to wildlife and is helping rural communities in the Klamath Basin,” said Ron Cole, project leader of the Klamath Basin Refuge Complex.

According to Cole, Walking Wetlands have reduced the use of chemicals used to combat pests and noxious weeds, with benefits lasting from three to ten years following the rotation. Reduced chemical inputs coupled with crop yields increases up to 25 percent helps to improve a farmer’s bottom line and consequently rural community economics.

“It is not often that we can demonstrate significant environmental benefits while at the same time improve rural agricultural economics, but the Walking Wetland Program is providing exactly that,” Cole said.

Funding for this project and hundreds more across the nation comes from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Of the $3 billion appropriated to the Department of the Interior, the Act provides $280 million for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Pacific Southwest Region portion includes $17.82 million for construction, repair and energy efficiency retrofit projects at Service facilities, and $7.15 million for habitat restoration, deferred maintenance and capital improvement projects.

Under the Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the Department of the Interior is making an investment in conserving America's timeless natural and historical treasures, while also focusing on renewable energy projects, employing youth and promoting community service.

For a full list of funded projects nationwide, go to the Department’s Recovery Web Site at http://recovery.doi.gov/. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has pledged unprecedented levels of transparency and accountability in the implementation of the Department of the Interior’s economic recovery projects. The public will be able to follow the progress of each project on the recovery web site, which will include an interactive map that enables the public to track where and how the Department’s recovery dollars are being spent. In addition, the public can submit questions, comments or concerns at recoveryact@fws.gov.

Contract opportunities for all Recovery and Reinvestment Act projects are announced on the Internet at FedBizOpps.gov ( www.fbo.gov ). More information about this and other Fish and Wildlife Service projects is available at http://recovery.doi.gov/press/bureaus/us-fish-and-wildlife-service .

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen in the Pacific Southwest Region, visit http://www.fws.gov/cno .  

-FWS-

 

Contact Info: Scott Flaherty, , Scott_Flaherty@fws.gov