National Wildlife Refuge
|4009 Hill Rd
Tulelake, CA 96134 - 9758
Phone Number: 530-667-2231
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Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge
Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge is located in the fertile and intensively farmed Tule Lake Basin of northeast California. It was established in 1928 by President Calvin Coolidge "as a preserve and breeding ground for wild birds and animals," yet was still subject to conversion from wetland habitats to farmland under the Bureau of Reclamation's Klamath Project.
Under the Kuchel Act of 1964, wetland reclamation was stopped and Tule Lake Refuge was "... dedicated to wildlife conservation&for the major purpose of waterfowl management, but with full consideration to optimum agricultural use that is consistent therewith." This 39,116- acre refuge contains 13,000 acres of open water surrounded by 17,000 acres of commercial croplands.
The endangered Lost River and shortnose suckers, as well as bald eagle, live in or use this refuge. The refuge is a significant staging area for migrating waterfowl during spring and fall migrations.
It is used primarily by white-fronted, snow, Ross, and cackling Canada geese, all of which nest in the Arctic tundra. Under the Kuchel Act, the refuge contains 15,500 acres of commercial croplands leased by the Bureau of Reclamation with oversight by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The main crops grown are small grains, potatoes, onions, sugar beets, and alfalfa. By law, no more than 25 percent of the refuge croplands can be devoted to row crops. The residual grain stubble left after harvest provides an important source of waste grain used as a food source by migrating waterfowl.
Getting There . . .
Tule Lake Refuge is in northern California near the small town of Tulelake. Located 25 miles north of the refuge, Klamath Falls, Oregon, is the closest city.
The refuge headquarters and visitor center is located on Hill Road., approximately 5 miles west of Tulelake, California. Hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; weekends and holidays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
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Under the Kuchel Act, the refuge contains 15,500 acres of leased croplands. The main crops grown are small grains (11,000 acres), potatoes (3,200 acres), onions (200 acres), and sugar beets and alfalfa (600 acres each).
By law, no more than 25% of the refuge croplands can be leased to row crops. The refuge is currently developing an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Plan to monitor 57 different pest species and 48 different crop diseases via crop scouting, develop localized pest thresholds, experiment with up to 73 different field trials, and 30 research proposals in an effort to minimize chemical pest control methods.
For a copy of the draft IPM Plan or the Final IPM Plan when available, visit the IPM Plan Web site. Another major undertaking at the Tule Lake Refuge is the "Sump Rotation" project. Refuge wetland habitat values have been steadily declining over the past 35 years due to stabilized water levels, poor water quality, chemical contaminants, and siltation.
The pilot sump rotation project is testing two types of cropland/wetland rotational cycles; short-term and long-term. The short-term rotation cycle is a 7-year program with 4 years of cropping, 2 years of seasonal flooding, and 1 year of continuous flooding. It is hoped that aquatic plants will colonize the sumps during flooding periods.
The organic materials produced by these plants will increase soil fertility while flooding may reduce soil pathogens. Long-term rotations consist of a 40 year cycle divided into two 20 year periods of cropping and flooding.
During the 20 year period as a wetland, it is assumed that emergent and submersed plants will develop and a mature marsh will become established. If ongoing research on approximately 1,000 acres determines this to be a viable approach, the system will be applied to the refuge's 15,500 acres of croplands and 13,000 acres of wetlands.