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Seeking refuge : making space for migratory waterfowl and wetlands along the Pacific flyway Wilson, Robert Michael 2003

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SEEKING REFUGE: M A K I N G SPACE FOR M I G R A T O R Y W A T E R F O W L A N D W E T L A N D S A L O N G THE PACIFIC F L Y W A Y by ROBERT M I C H A E L WILSON B.A. The Colorado College, 1994 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL F U L F I L M E N T OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in THE F A C U L T Y OF G R A D U A T E STUDIES Department of Geography We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard THE U N I V E T ^ I T Y \ ) F W l T I S H C O L U M B I A September 2003 © Robert Michael Wilson, 2003 In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. Department The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada DE-6 (2/88) Abstract "Seeking Refuge" examines the history of migratory waterfowl management along the Pacific Flyway, the westernmost of four main migration routes in North America. Drawing on approaches from historical geography and environmental history, this study shows how wildlife officials developed migratory bird refuges in Oregon and California, where over 60 percent of Pacific Flyway waterfowl winter. During the early-twentieth century, reclamation and river diking eliminated most of the wetlands in the birds' wintering range. Bird enthusiasts such as bird watchers and duck hunters successfully lobbied for the creation of wildlife refuges in a few areas along the flyway. These early refuges failed to protect waterfowl habitat and they were severely degraded by reclamation. In the 1930s and 1940s, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and its predecessor, the Bureau of Biological Survey, undertook an ambitious program to resurrect these sanctuaries and to create new ones. Many farmers opposed these refuges out of fear that waterfowl would damage crops. To respond to these concerns and to ensure an adequate food supply for the birds, the FWS raised rice, barley, and other crops. The agency adopted many of the technologies of modern, industrial agriculture including synthetic herbicides and insecticides such as 2, 4-D and DDT. By the 1960s, the refuges had become largely mirrors of the surrounding irrigated farmlands, the main difference being that the FWS raised grain for waterfowl rather than for market. Refuges could not escape the agricultural settings in which they were embedded. As units within the irrigated countryside, Pacific Flyway refuges were often at the mercy of nearby farmers and federal reclamation agencies. Poor water quality and insufficient supplies of water often hampered FWS efforts to manage refuges. In the late-twentieth century, reduced water supply due to diversions to California municipalities and to sustain endangered fish species affected the amount of water reaching refuges. This dissertation has other goals. First, it critiques the anthropocentrism of most historical geography by focusing on how political, cultural, and ecological factors affected wildlife. Second, it contributes to the literature on the state's role in environmental protection by investigating the overlapping, and often contradictory, spaces within which wildlife managers implemented environmental regulations. Table of Contents Page Abstract i i Table of Contents hi List of Figures v Citation Abbreviations viii Acknowledgements ix Introduction 1 Geography, Environment, and History Anthropocentrism and Historical Geography Thesis Outline Chapter 1: The Wetland Archipelago: Waterfowl Migration and the 20 Pacific Flyway The Pacific Flyway Waterscape Connecting Wetlands - Waterfowl and Migration Conclusion Chapter 2: Shrinking Oases 52 Reclaiming the Land, Draining the Skies Imperfect Sanctuaries - the Klamath Basin Refuges Conclusion Chapter 3: A Place in the Grid: Refuges and the Irrigated Landscape 105 The New Deal, Planning, and Wildlife A Bird's Eye View of the Continent - Developing the Flyway Concept Adding Links to the Chain - the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Restoring the Klamath Basin The Second World War, Japanese Internment, and the Refuges Conclusion Chapter 4: Duck Farms 159 Feeding Waterfowl Spraying, Trapping, and Medicating Directing the Flow - Klamath Basin Refuges and the Kuchel Act Conclusion IV Page Chapter 5: Refuges in Conflict: Pacific Flyway Refuges in the 204 Environmental Era A Changing Regulatory Environment The Short, Unhappy Life of the Kesterson National Wildlife Refuge A Dying Refuge? Klamath Basin Crisis The Sump at the End of the West Conclusion Conclusion 263 Implications The Future of the Flyway Producing Landscapes - the Labor of Nature Bibliography 282 List of Figures Figure Page Figure A The Pacific Flyway 19 Figure 1.1 Breeding and wintering grounds for North American waterfowl 45 Figure 1.2 Average breeding distribution of North American ducks 46 Figure 1.3 Principal lakes and marshes within the intermountain western 47 United States Figure 1.4 Map of the Klamath Basin, late nineteenth-century 48 Figure 1.5 Distribution of wetlands and grasslands in the Central and 49 Imperial Valleys of California Figure 1.6 Distribution of lakes, marshes, and riparian areas in California 50 before Euroamerican settlement Figure 1.7 Mean annual precipitation in California 51 Figure 2.1 Lower Klamath Lake marshes, 1907 96 Figure 2.2 William Finley and Herman Bohlman, Tule Lake, 1905 97 Figure 2.3 William Finley in the Tule Lake marshes, 1905 98 Figure 2.4 Caspian Terns, Klamath Basin, 1905 99 Figure 2.5 Klamath Straits, 1927 100 Figure 2.6 Lower Klamath Lakebed, 1929 101 Figure 2.7 Lower Klamath Lakebed, 1929 102 Figure 2.8 Map of Klamath Project, 1928 103 Figure 2.9 Livestock grazing on the Tule Lake Refuge, 1933 104 Figure 3.1 Frederick Lincoln at desk with bird bands, 1939 150 v i Figure Page Figure 3.2 Returns from ducks banded at the Malheur Refuge in central 151 Oregon Figure 3.3 The Pacific Flyway 152 Figure 3.4 Regions for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service management 153 Figure 3.5 The Spalding Ranch, 1937 154 Figure 3.6 Sacramento Refuge before flooding, 1937 155 Figure 3.7 Dragline at work on the Sacramento Refuge, 1937 156 Figure 3.8 Ross and white-fronted geese on flooded unit of the. 157 Sacramento Refuge, 1938 Figure 3.9 Civilian Conservation Corps Workers clearing cattails from 158 canal, Sacramento Refuge, late 1930s Figure 4.1 Federal and state waterfowl refuges in California, 1955 199 Figure 4.2 Aerial rice seeding, Sacramento Refuge, 1947 200 Figure 4.3 Experimental testing of the herbicide 2, 4-D, Sacramento 201 Refuge, 1947 Figure 4.4 Map of national wildlife refuges in the Sacramento 202 Valley, 2003 Figure 5.1 Waterfowl Use Days (x 1,000,000), Tule Lake and Lower 251 Klamath NWRs, 1969-1998 Figure 5.2 Map of proposed sump rotation plan, Tule Lake Refuge 252 Figure 5.3 Map of proposed water routing, Tule Lake Refuge 253 Figure 5.4 Map of Klamath River Basin 254 Figure 5.5 Map by Bureau of Reclamation map of the Klamath Project, 255 2000 Figure 5.6 Lower Klamath Lake Refuge, summer 2001 256 Figure 5.7 Protest sign on State Highway 39 near Klamath Falls, Oregon 257 vii Figure Page Figure 5.8 Protest sign along Hil l Rd. near the Tulelake Refuge 258 Figure 5.9 Protest sign along State Highway 39 near the town of 259 Tulelake Figure 5.10 Protest sign near the Klamath Basin Refuges Headquarters 260 Figure 5.11 Protest signs at A-Canal headgates 261 Figure 5.12 Map of the Salton Sea, 2003 262 Citation Abbreviations Audubon Papers Audubon Society Papers, New York Public Library, New York City. Finley Papers William L. Finley Papers, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon. K B N W R - H Q Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuges Headquarters, Tulelake, California. NCTC National Conservation Training Center, Shepherds town, West Virginia. NR- KBNWR Annual Narrative Reports, Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuges. NR-SNWR Annual Narrative Reports, Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex. R G 22 , NA-CP Record Group 22. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Records, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland. R G 22, NA-S Record Group 22. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Records, National Archives and Records Administration, Pacific Alaska Region, Seattle, Washington. SNWR-HQ Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex Headquarters, Willows, California. Acknowledgements The assistance, encouragement, and guidance of many people made this dissertation possible. I owe my deepest gratitude to Graeme Wynn, who showed unflagging support and enthusiasm for this project from its inception to completion. I value his thoughts and counsel immensely. Cole Harris also provided important guidance and pushed me to improve this dissertation in numerous ways. His field expeditions to the Fraser Canyon, Nass Valley, and beyond are some of my fondest memories from my time in British Columbia. Matthew Evenden, who joined the geography department (and later my committee) after I had begun my research, has improved my thinking on environmental history with his keen insight and humor. Richard White provided advice as a member of my committee, yet his own writing was his most important contribution. His influence is evident throughout this dissertation. I could not have done this research without the aid of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. They gave me unusual access to documents housed within backrooms, basements, and storage sheds. At the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuges, I would like to thank Fran Maiss and Dave Mauser who took the time to tell me about the history of the refuges and the contemporary challenges faced by refuge staff. Dave was also generous enough to answer my many questions about wetland and waterfowl ecology. The cultural resources staff at the Tualatin National Wildlife Refuge showed me material relating to the work of the Civilian Conservation Corps on western refuges. At the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex, refuge staff pointed me to important documents (they also granted me liberal use of their Xerox machine). At the National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, Fish and Wildlife Service historian Mark Madison directed me to important documents in the service archives. While I am critical of some of the agency's past actions and policies, I understand the severe constraints under which refuge staff work. A l l Americans concerned with the welfare of the country's native animal and plant life are in their debt. I hope that they will find this history to be of some use. I have also benefited from conversations with other environmental historians. Nancy Langston and Bi l l Cronon offered helpful comments at a number of stages during this project. (Nancy's mother, Joann Langston, generously hosted me for an entire month while I did research at the National Archives in Maryland.) Mark Fiege has become a valued colleague and good friend. Through his work and our correspondence, he has shown me how to see the West's irrigated landscape, and indeed nature itself, in new ways. Matt Klingle's views on this research, academic life, and other matters were invaluable; his tireless energy is an inspiration. During my time at the University of British Columbia, the geography department became a busy hive of research in environmental history. Fellow environmental historians John Thistle, Emily Loeb, Cain Allen, Rebecca Smith, Cheri Dunkley, Lillian Ford, and Shannon Stunden-Bower all listened to and read my work about the Pacific Flyway with interest. Special thanks to Arn Keeling and Shannon Fraser. I never tired of my many conversations with Arn about environmental history, American-Canadian X relations, and world affairs. I could always count on Shannon to remind me that I am an American. Her editorial suggestions greatly improved parts of this thesis. Other friends at U B C supported this project and me over the years: Pascal Haegeli, Stephanie Meyn, Andrew Murphy, Natalie Oswin, Diane Perlin, Jean-Francois Proux, Shelly Rayback, Etiene Rivard, Magdalena Rucker, and Jenny Salmond. M y parents Jan and Allan Wilson and my grandmother, Jane Rountree, provided both emotional and financial support. My siblings Christina and Ben Wilson were always there for me, too. Thanks as well to Bob, Henrietta, and Sarah Mountz. One could not ask for more encouraging, or more loving, 'in-laws.' Meeting Alison Mountz was the best thing that happened to me at U B C . I thank her for her love, and her unending faith in this project and in all that I do. 1 Introduction M y interest in migrating birds began a few years ago during a visit to the Reifel Bird Sanctuary. Thirty kilometers from Vancouver, British Columbia, on the margin of the Fraser River delta, the sanctuary is the largest wildlife refuge in the Lower Mainland. I had come to see the snow geese and other waterfowl in the sanctuary's saltwater marshes. From my home in Vancouver, I had heard the geese flying overhead, their unfamiliar calls standing out from the steller's jays, crows, and starlings in my neighborhood. Some autumn afternoons I saw flocks headed southwards; from afar, they looked like strips of ribbon flapping in the wind. Watching them overhead, I thought of their long journeys from the Arctic and their ability to find marshes along the province's jagged coastline. My natural history trip raised unexpected and puzzling questions. As I approached the refuge, I found hundreds of snow geese grazing in a farmer's field, their brilliant white bodies a stunning sight on the damp, gray November morning. Mini-vans and sport utility vehicles clogged the roadside as families peered through their windows at the avian spectacle. The birds fed quietly, only fifty meters away, unperturbed by our presence. After watching for a time, I hurried on to the refuge. If so many geese were in the field, the sanctuary must be teeming with birds. Instead, I found mallards filling the parking lot searching for old bread left by visitors, but I found few of the birds that I expected to see. M y late-morning visit was part of the problem (many birds are more active at dawn and dusk). Yet this alone did not explain the field full of geese and the quiet refuge. 2 The seemingly misplaced birds illustrate the blurry boundaries between spaces set aside for the natural world and the working landscapes that often surround them. The geese challenged my sense of what was a suitable location for wild creatures. Geese feeding in agricultural fields showed that a farm was habitat as well as land that produced crops. A closer look at the Reifel Bird Sanctuary revealed that it was not as natural as I thought. Signs along the sanctuary's trails explained that the land was once a farm and that present-day wildlife managers had reworked the waterscape to create better habitat for migratory birds. The birds seemed to have judged otherwise. The wetlands of the Fraser River delta are links in the Pacific Flyway, the migratory bird route crossing much of western North America (Figure A) . The snow geese I saw on that November day came from Wrangel Island off the coast of Siberia. Many other birds using the refuge originated in the delta marshes of the Yukon River in Alaska or the MacKenzie River in northern Canada. The Pacific Flyway includes the major wetlands in these Arctic and Subarctic areas. Waterfowl breed in these northern areas and winter to the south, mostly in California and Mexico. Some migratory birds also breed in the Canadian river deltas east of the Rocky Mountains and on the prairies. Migrating waterfowl - ducks, geese, and swans - connect these disparate places through their annual j ourneys.1 This dissertation is an environmental history about how people destroyed wetlands in the western states and provinces and the efforts by the American and Canadian governments to manage refuges to sustain migratory waterfowl. I argue that protecting migratory waterfowl did not just entail setting-aside wetlands and other habitat 1 1 Tupper Ansel Blake and Peter Steinhart, Tracks in the Sky: Wildlife and Wetlands of the Pacific Flyway (San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1987). 3 for birds. Rather, it often required making space for waterfowl amid a countryside increasingly inhospitable to waterfowl. Making space had a number of dimensions. First, wildlife managers had to develop suitable habitat for the birds. For a time, this meant protecting critical wetland habitats, but as irrigation projects diverted necessary water away from these marshes, government agencies like the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) increasingly began creating new wetlands and ponds. Often these new wetland sites were in places where extensive wetlands had not previously existed. Second, under pressure by farmers, wildlife managers developed methods to attract and sequester migratory waterfowl within refuges. Principally, the agency did this by raising grains such as wheat, barley, and rice to feed the birds. Over time, the refuges took on additional roles as containment centers for farmers who wanted their fields free of waterfowl. Finally, making space for waterfowl involved more than material changes to the landscape. Wildlife officials also devised new methods of picturing bird migration that allowed them to manage waterfowl populations in new ways. The development of the flyway concept by federal ornithologists during the 1920s and 1930s enabled federal mangers to chart bird migration cartographically. Flyway maps made migrating birds legible and amenable to state management. Using the flyway concept, the federal government divided migratory waterfowl management into four regions corresponding to the four major fly ways. Efforts to protect migratory birds during the twentieth century led to the creation and development of wildlife refuges in the agricultural countryside. Some of the refuges lie within California's Central Valley, one of the most productive agricultural regions in 2 The other flyways are the Central, Mississippi, and Atlantic. 4 the world. Freshwater marshes once blanketed much of the Valley before drainage during the early twentieth century largely eliminated them. In San Francisco Bay, urban growth and port development destroyed most of the saltwater marshes rimming the edge of the bay. Since the mountains and deserts in West Coast provinces and states already limited the area where wetlands naturally occurred, these human-induced changes effectively made a difficult situation even worse by restricting the quantity and quality of water reaching wetlands. Draining lands, developing farms, and building cities reduced already scarce wetland habitat. One version of this story is about the persistence of wild nature amid a ravaged landscape. But a closer look at the environmental history of migratory waterfowl along the Pacific Flyway reveals a more complicated story - a tale about our relationship to the natural world. Migratory waterfowl are the focus of this tale because they have been the subject of a transnational, century long protection effort. In the United States, some of the earliest federal wildlife laws concerned the protection of threatened birds, including the Migratory Bird Treaty of 1916 between the United States and Canada. The history of waterfowl management also reveals how views about the environment and animals have changed throughout the twentieth century. Despite these drastic changes to western landscapes, migratory waterfowl often proved difficult to place in the sanctuaries established for their protection. Waterfowl spilled out of the refuges, and in the view of farmers, devastated crops. The migratory paths of some species changed through the decades as waterfowl adapted to new environments or sought new feeding and resting areas as development destroyed old ones. Ducks, geese, and swans neither adhered to the simplified constructions of their 5 migratory routes nor remained in designated environments even as they were affected by these constructions. Geography, Environment, and History This study lies on the boundary between geography and environmental history, drawing insights from both fields. A number of geographers have noted the areas where the two fields intersect. In an influential commentary, the geographer David Demeritt noted how geographers (and specifically cultural geographers) and environmental historians explore nature in their work. One of the key differences, he noted, is the way cultural geographers tend to see landscape and nature as a text rather than an active force in human affairs.3 This study addresses contemporary concerns of both geography and environmental history, and it contributes to each. One is the role of the state in environmental protection. Recent work by Bruce Braun, Matthew Hannah, Scott Kirsh, and others has traced the emergence of new forms of governmental control throughout the twentieth century.4 Not all of these studies focus primarily on the state's relationship David Demeritt, "Ecology, Objectivity and Critique in Writings on Nature and Human Societies," Journal of Historical Geography 20, no. 1 (1994): 22-37 and "The Nature of Metaphors in Cultural Geography and Environmental History," Progress in Human Geography 18, no. 2 (1994): 163-85. Also, see the response by the environmental historian William Cronon to the first article. William Cronon, "Cutting Loose or Running Aground?" Journal of Historical Geography 20, no. 1 (1994): 38-43. Other recent commentaries on the relationship between geography and environmental history include Don Mitchell, "Writing the Western: New Western History's Encounter with Landscape," Ecumene 5, no. 1 (1998): 7-29; Richard White, "The Nationalization of Nature," The Journal of American History, December (1999): 976-86; Michael Williams, "The Relations of Environmental History and Historical Geography," Journal of Historical Geography 20, no. 1 (1994): 3-21. 4 Bruce Braun, "Producing 'Vertical' Territory: Geology and Governmentality in Late Victorian Canada," Ecumene 7, 1 (2000): 7-46; Matthew G. Hannah, Governmentality and the Mastery of Territory in Nineteenth-Century America 6 with nature. A l l of these authors use the work of Michael Foucault and his ideas of governmentality (a term Foucault coined late in his career to capture the ability of the state to manage and monitor populations) to frame their analyses.5 Foucault saw governmentality as one of the features that distinguished modernity from earlier forms of social organization. More recently, the anthropologist James Scott has given more sustained attention to the state's role in environmental affairs, emphasizing the practices through which the state makes populations legible and radically simplifies complex ecosystems through environmental manipulation.6 What these studies share is an awareness of the modern state's growing interest in managing the environment and its willingness to modify landscapes for particular social ends. Environmental historians have shown considerable interest in the role of the state, and particularly the federal government, in managing or protecting the environment.7 (Cambridge ; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000); Scott Kirsch, "John Wesley Powell and the Mapping of the Colorado Plateau, 1869-1879: Survey Science, Geographical Solutions, and Economy of Environmental Values," Annals of the Association of American Geographers 92, 3 (2002): 548-572. 5 The geographer Daniel Clayton provides a brief definition of the term: "Governmentality," in The Dictionary of Human Geography, 4 t h ed., ed. R.J. Johnston, Derek Gregory, Geraldine Pratt, and Michael Watts (Maiden, Mass.: Blackwell Publishers Ltd., 2000), 318-319. Foucault discussed the term in the most detail in Michel Foucault, "Governmentality," in The Foucault Effect: Studies in Governmentality, with Two Lectures by and an Interview with Michel Foucault, ed. Graham Burchell, Colin Gordon, and Peter Miller (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1991). 6 James C. Scott, Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998). 7 Samuel P. Hays, Conservation and the Gospel of Efficiency: The Progressive Conservation Movement, 1890-1920 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1959); Paul W. Hirt, A Conspiracy of Optimism: Management of the National Forests since World War II (Lincoln, Nebraska: Univ. of Nebraska Press, 1994); Donald J. Pisani, To Reclaim a Divided West: Water, Law, and Public Policy, 1848-1902 (Albuquerque, N M : University of New Mexico Press, 1992); "Federal Water Policy and the Rural West," in The Rural West since World War II, ed. R. Douglas Hurt (Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas, 1998), Donald J. Pisani, Water and American 7 This partly reflects the strong presence of environmental history perspectives in the field of western American history. The West remains a region where the U.S. federal government retains control over much of the land base.8 Because of the large acreage of public land in the West, the region has often been a battleground over conflicting visions of how best to manage natural resources. Environmental historians have examined how local people resisted the growing state power over resources during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.9 Using tools from social history, these authors show that many national parks and wilderness areas were once local commons. When these areas became federally protected areas, locals often vehemently contested this control. Much of the work in geography on the state has had a sharper theoretical edge than the work in environmental history. However, even though the geographical work is theoretically rich, it often fails to account for the different levels of state power (federal, state/provincial, and local) or the conflicting mandates of the state within each level. This is especially true in the realm of environmental matters where individual federal agencies pursue drastically different agendas; sometimes these agencies lie within the same Government: The Reclamation Bureau, National Water Policy, and the West, 1902-1935 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002); Hal Rothman, America's National Monuments : The Politics of Preservation, Development of Western Resources. (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1989); Alfred Runte, National Parks: The American Experience, 3 r d ed. (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1997); Richard West Sellars, Preserving Nature in the National Parks: A History (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997). 8 The federal government owns nearly half of the land in the western United States. See Center of the American West and University of Colorado at Boulder, Atlas of the New West (New York: Norton, 1997), 58-59. 9 Karl Jacoby, Crimes Against Nature: Squatters, Poachers, Thieves, and the Hidden History of American Conservation (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001); Mark David Spence, Dispossessing the Wilderness: Indian Removal and the Making of the National Parks (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999); and Louis S. Warren, The Hunter's Game: Poachers and Conservationists in Twentieth-Century America (New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 1997). 8 bureaucratic department. What the theoretically derived work in geography does show is that despite their differences, agencies of the state have often shared basic characteristics, such as a concern with managing populations and charting them cartographically. This study of federal migratory waterfowl protection examines these issues. Efforts to protect birds often brought wildlife officials into direct conflict with other federal agencies such as the United States Bureau of Reclamation, which sought to convert wetland habitat into farmland or to divert water for irrigation. The persistent conflict between the FWS and the Bureau of Reclamation highlights the different environmental goals of the U.S. federal government. Throughout most of the past century, the Bureau of Reclamation has had far more power than the FWS or its predecessor, the Bureau of Biological Survey. The FWS had to manage waterfowl within a landscape largely created by the Bureau of Reclamation and other irrigators. The fact that the FWS was a weak agency within a strong state had serious ramifications for bird protection. Another theme of this dissertation is the tension between private property and public resources. As reclamation eliminated most wetland habitats, waterfowl sought food and shelter in the agricultural landscape. This brought the birds into direct conflict with farmers, who considered bird depredations as infringements on their private property. In response, federal migratory waterfowl management often consisted largely of developing means to segregate birds in refuges away from nearby private land. Farmers often complained that they bore the brunt of migratory bird protection since birds fed on their property. Their complaints are commonly heard today by property owners who 9 argue that environmental protection constitutes a 'taking' of private resources without due compensation.10 By insisting on the sanctity of private property, farmers often overlooked how many aspects of the environment transcend property boundaries. Migratory birds, insect pests, weeds, and other organisms passed through individually owned plots of land. In doing so, these aspects of the environment showed that the agricultural landscape was a shared space. The historian Mark Fiege calls this space the ecological commons.11 Mobile organisms connected the landscape, often despite the best efforts to contain them. Wildlife managers and farmers often tried to regulate this flow for their own benefit. While these groups tried to act as gatekeepers, many aspects of environment proved difficult to segregate. To deal with the mobility of organisms (particularly ones considered pests), farmers had to develop community institutions to handle them. In the case of migratory waterfowl, farmers called on federal and state wildlife officials to cleanse their fields of ducks and geese and confine them to refuges. Managing migratory waterfowl was not just a local issue. The birds crossed international borders in their journeys from the breeding areas in the Arctic to their wintering areas in the United States and Mexico. A final theme of this dissertation is the transnational dimension of environmental management. Many of today's most pressing 1 0 Karen R. Merrill, Public Lands and Political Meaning: Ranchers, the Government, and the Property Between Them (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002) and Nick Blomley, "Property Rights," in The Dictionary of Human Geography, 4 t h ed., ed. R. J. Johnston, Derek Gregory, Geraldine Pratt, and Michael Watts (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 2000), 651. 1 1 Mark Fiege, Irrigated Eden: The Making of an Agricultural Landscape in the American West (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1999), 60-61, 69-73 and "Private Property and Ecological Commons in the American West," in Everyday America: Cultural Landscape Studies after J.B. Jackson, ed. Chris Wilson and Paul Groth, 219-31, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003). 10 environmental issues such as global climate change and ozone depletion extend beyond national borders. International agreements like the Kyoto and Montreal Protocols to control greenhouse gas and ozone depleting chemicals are attempts to deal with such environmental problems. The Migratory Bird Treaty of 1916 between the United States and Canada was one of the first international environmental protection agreements signed 12 between two countries - and one of the most successful. Other scholars have explored the political and diplomatic histories of this legislation, but no one has yet studied how effective migratory waterfowl management was in practice. Even though ducks and geese crossed international borders during their migrations, local conditions often determined whether they would survive. The loss of habitat in the wintering range of the birds had the greatest effect on the welfare of these migratory birds. To manage the birds effectively, FWS officials had to work between continental and local scales. Yet local opposition in the birds' wintering range often hampered attempts by wildlife managers to manage waterfowl as part of a continental system. Since this thesis deals with the history of an international environmental issue, it 13 is also a contribution to transnational environmental history. These studies attempt to 1 2 Kurkpatrick Dorsey discusses the Migratory Bird Treaty as well as other environmental protection agreements of the time in The Dawn of Conservation Diplomacy: U.S.-Canadian Wildlife Protection Treaties During the Progressive Era (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1998). See also Janet Foster, Working for Wildlife: The Beginnings of Preservation in Canada, 2 n d ed. (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1998). 1 3 Some of the more compelling transnational environmental histories published recently include Thomas R. Dunlap, Nature and the English Diaspora: Environment and History in the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999); Richard H. Grove, Green Imperialism: Colonial Expansion, Tropical Island Edens and Origins of Environmentalism, 1600-1860 (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1995); J.R. McNeill , Something New under the Sun: An Environmental History of the Twentieth Century (New York: W. W. 11 move beyond merely comparing the environmental histories of different nations and places to examining the histories of linked processes and movements that connect areas across national boundaries. Although transnational environmental histories move beyond national questions, they do not ignore the nation state altogether. As the historian Richard White has argued, environmental issues are often framed within national terms.14 International borders may arbitrarily bisect ecosystems, and environmental problems may extend beyond individual nations, but decisions over the fate of such environments are strongly influenced by national concerns. Anthropocentrism and Historical Geography A dissertation on migratory waterfowl management might seem to have little to do with historical geography. Given the way the sub-discipline is commonly constructed, it is easy to reach this conclusion. Historical geography largely remains anthropocentric in its concerns.15 Despite an overriding concern with diversity, and a willingness to draw upon post-colonial, feminist, and other theoretical approaches, historical geographers have been reluctant to focus their attention on other species. Historical geographers have left this vital work to physical geographers, but most of these geographers do not study the political, economic, and cultural factors that affect other species. For those concerned Norton & Company, 2000); Stephen J. Pyne, Vestal Fire : An Environmental History, Told through Fire, of Europe and Europe's Encounter with the World (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1997); and Ian R. Tyrrell, True Gardens of the Gods : Californian-Australian Environmental Reform, 1860-1930 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999). 1 4 Richard White, "The Nationalization of Nature," 983-86. 1 5 A notable exception is Lillian Ford's "Coyote Goes Downriver: An Historical Geography of Coyote Migration into the Fraser Valley" (M.A. Thesis, University of British Columbia, 2000). 12 with protecting biodiversity, there is an urgent need to study the historical geography of past environmental protection - and not just from a scientific perspective. The reliance of many historical geographers on social theory may partially account for the lack of such work. Almost without exception, the theorists historical geographers turn to say little or nothing about nature. The work of Michel Foucault, Edward Said, Judith Butler, and others are all used creatively by human geographers. Their ideas have improved historical geography in many ways and connected the discipline to important trends in the humanities and social sciences. But the theory historical geographers draw upon also frames how they see problems and ask questions about the world. The theoretical apparatus that informs their studies often restrict them to human subjects. In one sense, this is self-evident: social theory is concerned with society and the people who comprise it. However, this vision makes it difficult to explore human connections to the rest of life. The irrigated countryside of California has received considerable attention from geographers in recent years.16 This literature, portrays farming in California as a model of capitalist agriculture. Most of this work emphasizes the ability of capital to rework landscapes, and the struggle by agricultural labourers to achieve just treatment from farmers. Nature is an abstraction in these studies, and environmental consequences of the Gray Brechin, Imperial San Francisco: Urban Power, Earthly Ruin (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999); George L. Henderson, California and the Fictions of Capital (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000); Don Mitchell, The Lie of the Land : Migrant Workers and the California Landscape (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996) and "The Difference That Space Makes in California Agriculture," Journal of Historical Geography 26, no. 3 (2000): 469-80; and Richard Walker, "California's Golden Road to Riches: Natural Resources and Regional Capitalism, 1848-1940," Annals of the Association of American Geographers 91, no. 1 (2001): 167-99. 13 industry are not highlighted. It is an obstacle for capital to overcome or to transform. While all of these geographers emphasize the production of nature, there is no sense that anything other than humans are involved in this production. The environment is a stage over which human history unfolds.17 In recent years, geographers have studied more closely the role of animals in human geography.18 They argue that human geography has been unnecessarily anthropocentric and that geographers should consider the consequences of human actions on animals more carefully. Some of this work includes studies of the place of predators in urban ecosystems and the spatial ramifications of categorizing animals. Such research still lies very much on the margin of human geography, and has yet to make inroads into historical geography. 1 7 On the problems with seeing the environment as a stable backdrop to human affairs, see Carolyn Merchant, Ecological Revolutions: Nature, Gender, and Science in New England (Chapel Hi l l : The University of North Carolina Press, 1989), 8; Ted Steinberg, Down to Earth: Nature's Role in American History (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002), ix and "Down to Earth: Nature, Agency, and Power in History," American Historical Review (June 2002): 798-800. 1 8 Kay Anderson, "Culture and Nature at the Adelaide Zoo: At the Frontiers of 'Human' Geography," Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 20 (1995): 275-94; Lisa Naughton-Treves, "Wild Animals in the Garden: Conserving Wildlife in Amazonian Agroecosystems," Annals of the Association of American Geographers 92, no. 3 (2002): 488-506; S. Whatmore and L. Thorne, "Wild(Er)Ness: Reconfiguring the Geographies of Wildlife," Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 23 (1998): 435-54; Sarah Whatmore, Hybrid Geographies : Natures, Cultures, Spaces (London ; Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage, 2002); Jennifer R. Wolch, Kathleen West, and Thomas E. Gaines, "Transpecies Urban Theory," Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 13 (1995): 735-60 and Jennifer Wolch, "Anima Urbis," Progress in Human Geography 26, no. 6 (2002): 721-42; Jennifer Wolch, and Jody Emel, ed., Animal Geographies: Place, Politics, and Identity in the Nature-Culture Borderlands. (London: Verso, 1998). 14 Thesis Outline To examine the environmental history of the Pacific Flyway, I begin the narrative in the mid-nineteenth century before people drained western marshes and created wildlife refuges. Chapter One, "The Wetland Archipelago," examines the geography of the Pacific Flyway and how bird migration links wetlands in western North America. Bird enthusiasts have often framed wetland loss in terms of a static nature drastically altered by American society. But wetlands within the intermountain West and California were highly dynamic environments prior to Euroamerican and Eurocanadian settlement. Shallow lakes covered the valleys of the Great Basin at the end of the Pleistocene, and in the mid-Quaternary, freshwater marshes replaced them. Meanwhile, deglaciation of the northern part of the continent opened immense areas of land for the birds to utilize during their breeding season. Migration routes changed accordingly as the waterfowl utilized different areas to satisfy their needs. Native peoples harvested these birds and used an assortment of other organisms from these wetlands. Unlike Euroamerican land use, Native use of birds and wetlands did not require the rigid division between water and land promoted by western private property regimes. For migratory birds, the shifting biogeoclimatic patterns of postglacial North America allowed them to travel to sources of abundance separated by hundreds of miles. This left the birds vulnerable to environmental changes along the flyway. As Euroamerican and Eurocanadian settlement proceeded and Native people were pushed to the margins, newcomers began draining wetlands to create farmland. They also harvested enormous numbers of birds for market and sport. Chapter Two, "Shrinking Oases," examines these developments and the early bird protection movement that arose in the early twentieth century to preserve spaces for migratory birds. Unlike recent 15 studies of wildlife conservation during this era, this dissertation focuses on the West Coast states and not the nation as a whole.1 9 At the beginning of the twentieth century, California and Oregon lay on the periphery of the bird protection movement. Groups such as the National Association of Audubon Societies (NAAS) were strongest in the Northeast United States, where they used their influence to convince president Theodore Roosevelt to establish wildlife refuges in the region, as well as in Florida and other Gulf Coast states. In the West, where there were fewer N A A S members, there was less enthusiasm for refuge development. Oregon diverged from this pattern. It had a vigorous and influential N A A S chapter led by two intrepid wildlife photographers, William Finley and Herman Bohlman. Their writings and photographs of birds in eastern Oregon galvanized interest among bird enthusiasts and ornithologists to protect Lower Klamath and Malheur Lakes as bird sanctuaries patrolled by the U . S. Bureau of Biological Survey wardens. Even with federal protection, irrigators or the U . S. Bureau of Reclamation destroyed some or all of these refuges. Chapter Three, " A Place in the Grid," explores the development of the flyway concept and the management of refuges within the irrigated landscapes of Oregon and California. During the 1920s and 1930s, bureau biologist Frederick Lincoln, in cooperation with Canadian and American ornithologists, bird watchers, and sport hunters, developed the flyway concept. The concept revolutionized migratory bird management and gave the Biological Survey a powerful tool for selecting sites for federal protection. Lincoln developed the flyway concept at a time when duck and goose populations were 1 9 Mark V. Barrow Jr., A Passion for Birds: American Ornithology after Audubon (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1998), 102-125, 150-182 and Jennifer Price, Flight Maps: Adventures with Nature in Modern America (New York: Basic Books, 1999), 1-109. 16 in steep decline and when the bureau was enlarging the refuge system. The Biological Survey (renamed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1940) used funds and labor provided by New Deal programs to restore damaged wetlands. The agency constructed dikes, built canals, and planted aquatic vegetation to rehabilitate damaged marshes in Oregon and California. Remaining wetlands and ponds were divided into diked units to facilitate the management of water. Such development enabled the agency to deal with the reoccurring problem of avian botulism and cholera that afflicted western waterfowl populations. With these developments, however, nearby farmers expected the agency to contain the birds within the refuges to prevent waterfowl from damaging crops. As duck and goose populations increased during the 1940s, the refuges proved unable to provided sufficient food for the birds. Chapter Four, "Duck Farms," examines why the FWS started growing crops for waterfowl and the consequences of the adoption of post-war agricultural technologies. By the end of Second World War, a rising number of waterfowl hunters in the Los Angeles and San Francisco (combined with the continuing loss of wetland habitat throughout the flyway) placed enormous pressures on these small refuges. Farmers continued to insist that wildlife managers remove waterfowl from rice and barley fields, yet sport hunters used their growing influence to maintain refuges and establish others in the Central Valley of California. The emerging geography of wildlife refuges in the valley was the result of intense political battles among the different groups who had claims on the spaces used by birds. This chapter moves from the local to regional scales as it follows attempts by the FWS to alter the rhythm of bird migration during the fall. It also considers the ramifications of the agency's farming program to grow crops for waterfowl. The agency's narrow focus on grain production for 17 ducks and geese had disastrous consequences for other species of birds. DDT and other pesticides applied to refuge crops found their way into wetlands where pelicans, grebes, and other fish eating birds died from the pesticides found in the fish. The final chapter, "Refuges in Crisis," discusses how endangered species legislation and water policy in Oregon and California during the past decade have affected wildlife refuges. The passing of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1973 had far reaching consequence for the Fish and Wildlife Service and the refuges it managed in Oregon and California. The FWS was the agency primarily responsible for enforcing the act. It gave the agency increasing power over how private lands were managed throughout the nation and it had important implications for refuge management. The ESA forced the agency to consider the welfare of other threatened species on its refuges beside waterfowl. The agency was slow to adapt to these changes since it had long grown accustomed to managing refuges primarily for ducks and geese. But the ESA was a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it gave the agency more power. On the other hand, efforts to protect endangered species like salmon often had far-reaching consequences for refuges. Water that would have once been diverted to refuges now remained in rivers and streams to protect endangered salmon. Refuges still depended on water from nearby irrigation districts to support the refuges. When endangered species received water instead of irrigators, the refuges suffered. Water transferred from agricultural to urban users had a similar effect. Irrigation districts and farmers proved increasingly willing to sell water to municipalities. This diversion of water often meant that less water was available for wildlife like migratory waterfowl. Entering the new millennium, the FWS found its refuges in a precarious position. This chapter will examine these issues by 18 focusing on recent conflicts over water and endangered species in the Klamath Basin, the Central Valley of California, and the Imperial Valley. 19 Figure A : The Pacific Flyway. Source: Frederick Lincoln, Migration of Birds (Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1950). 20 Chapter One The Wetland Archipelago: Waterfowl Migration and the Pacific Flyway The word 'flyway' conjures up visions of an aerial highway that birds follow up and down the continent taking rest stops along the way. But the word is misleading. There is no interstate in the sky for the birds to follow. Ornithologists now realize that beneath the simplicity of the flyway concept lies a very complicated network of crisscrossing migration paths. Despite these problems, wildlife managers still use the flyway concept as a management tool. In the words of one nature writer, the Pacific Flyway is a "way of thinking about ducks."1 It provides a reassuring sense of order to explain a world in motion. While biologists now have more sophisticated understandings of bird migration, the flyway concept does capture one basic fact of North American bird migration: along the Pacific coast, waterfowl migrate between the ocean and the flanks of the main mountain ranges. Birds can and do cross these mountains while migrating, but many species of waterfowl follow the general north-south trending ranges. Except for the northern part of the continent, where wetlands are extensive and plentiful, most of the area encompassed by the Pacific Flyway is useless to waterfowl. Ducks, geese, and swans need wetlands to survive, though the degree of their dependence varies by species. Diving ducks feed almost exclusively in marshes and ponds, while swans, geese, and some other ducks eat grass growing outside of wetlands and grain found on farms. Most waterfowl nest on or near wetlands. Although birds migrate across vast distances, their journeys bring them to environments similar to ones they left. A 1 Tupper Ansel Blake and Peter Steinhart, Tracks in the Sky: Wildlife and Wetlands of the Pacific Flyway (San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1987), 28. 21 snow goose will breed in a wetland in Alaska, stop to feed in a wetland in British Columbia or Oregon, and spend the winter in a wetland in California.2 This chapter surveys the wetlands encompassed by the Pacific Flyway and assesses the role of migration as a waterfowl adaptation. It focuses primarily on the mid-nineteenth century before people radically transformed these wetlands hydrologically or began destroying many of them in the late nineteenth century. These areas were not necessarily pristine sites free of human use. Indeed, the enormous productivity of wetland environments made them attractive to Native peoples from Alaska to Mexico. However, while Native peoples had a significant impact on the wildlife using these wetlands, their technologies limited their ability to alter the hydrology of western marshes and estuaries. Native peoples diverted no major rivers nor did they drain wetlands. Until the nineteenth century, the distribution of wetlands, and their formation or disappearance, was largely the product of natural forces.3 Yet the fact that humans had only minimal impact on the hydrology of western wetlands, does not mean that these wetlands were timeless. Change defines the natural 2 Of course, the way they use these wetlands varies. In the summer, waterfowl need wetlands for molting and nesting, while during the winter they use them just for food, rest, and cover. Native people did have an impact on other aspects of the environment. However, they had a limited impact on the hydrology of wetlands. For discussions of the significant ways that Native groups in western North America altered other aspects of the environment, see Joseph Taylor III, Making Salmon: An Environmental History of the Northwest Fisheries Crisis (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1999), 13-38; William Preston, "Serpent in the Garden: Environmental Change in Colonial California," in Contested Eden: California Before the Gold Rush, ed. Ramon A . Gutierrez and Richard J. Orsi, 260-298 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998); Stephen J. Pyne, Fire in America: A Cultural History ofWildland and Rural Fire (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1982), 71-83; William Robbins, Landscapes of Promise: The Oregon Story, 1800-1940 (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1997), 23-49. 22 history of these places. Focusing on the wetlands just prior to their destruction in the nineteenth century can create a misleading impression of their characteristics. Wetlands were dynamic environments before people began to drain, dike, and fill them—though the degree of dynamism differed from area to area. This dynamism operated over short courses of a few years and over longer periods of centuries and millennia. Waterfowl migration is partially an adaptation to this change. During the Pleistocene, for example, ice covered most of the current breeding range of migratory waterfowl. Waterfowl were therefore geographically limited to regions south of the ice sheets that covered most of present-day Canada and Alaska. As the ice sheets retreated between 10,000 and 12,000 years ago, many areas were opened to colonization by plant species, and eventually, by migratory birds.4 By migrating, waterfowl and other birds were able to take advantage of the seasonal abundance of resources available in the Arctic and Subarctic during the summer, and then retreat to lower latitudes before the onset of winter. But long migratory journeys exposed them to dangers en route, as well as to the possibility that drought would dry-up wetlands in either the wintering or breeding range. For many species of birds, migration was necessary and unavoidable, but it exacted a cost. The cost became all too apparent to conservationists hoping to save migratory waterfowl as western marshes and estuaries were lost to agricultural and urban development. 4 Thomas Alerstam, Bird Migration (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), 226. George Cox discusses the different theories explaining the development of bird migration in "The Evolution of Avian Migration Systems between the Temperate and Tropical Regions of the New World," The American Naturalist 126, no. 4 (1985): 451-56 23 The Pacific Flyway Waterscape5 Pacific Flyway birds annually migrated to wetlands separated by thousands of kilometres. Wetlands were more common in the northern reaches of the flyway than in the southern portion, where aridity and topography restricted where they could form. Although wetlands and lakes were abundant in the Arctic and Subarctic, they were not all equally useful for waterfowl. River deltas supported the highest numbers of waterfowl. During their annual migrations, birds migrated from these northern wetlands to marshes and estuaries in the western United States and Mexico. Their journeys took them from Arctic deltas to wetlands in some of the driest deserts in North America. The Yukon-Kuskokwim River Delta on the west coast of Alaska formed the largest and most important wetland complex in this northern region. Between the lower stretches of these major rivers, a tapestry of bogs and marshes formed that covered over 60,000 square kilometers. During the summer breeding season in peak years, over 750,000 ducks and 500,000 geese could be found within this delta. A l l the cackling Canada geese found in North America nested in the delta, and most of the white-fronted geese that traveled along the Pacific Flyway bred there, too. For snow geese migrating from their breeding ground on Wrangel Island in Siberia, the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta was an important stopover on their journey to California's Central Valley. The upper regions of the Yukon River (known as the Yukon Flats) were also critical habitat for The historian Norris Hundley Jr. uses the term ' waterscape' in reference to the rivers, lakes, estuaries, and wetlands California. See Norris Hundley Jr., The Great Thirst: Californians and Water: A History, rev. ed., (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001), 5. 24 waterfowl. Over 40,000 ponds and lakes flanked the river. Together, these wetlands provided nesting habitat for a significant portion of Pacific Flyway waterfowl.6 The drainage basins of other major rivers also provided habitat for ducks, geese, and swans. The Mackenzie River was the most important in northern Canada. Waterfowl researchers in the 1960s compared the MacKenzie River system to a giant staircase stretching from the Arctic into more southerly parts of Canada. Inland deltas were found along each step or landing along the Mackenzie River and its major tributaries. Toward the headwaters of this system, the Peace and Athabaska rivers formed a delta on the southeast shore of Lake Athabaska. The remnants of meander channels from both rivers created an ideal habitat for waterfowl. Ducks and geese fed on marsh plants like sago pondweed and alkali bulrushes that grew in abundance. The most serious threat to birds using the area was not drought but flooding, which could wipe out waterfowl nests. If this occurred in the peak nesting season (June and July) the result could be severe. The population of waterfowl using the delta during the summer could range from 84,000 to 250,000 birds. Other rivers further in this system also formed deltas when they entered large lakes. The Slave River, for instance, formed a delta when it reached Great Slave Lake, which served as an aquatic nursery for waterfowl. The largest delta formed where the Mackenzie River emptied into the Beaufort Sea.7 6 Guy A. Baldassarre and Eric G. Bolen, Waterfowl Ecology and Management (New York: John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 1994), 390-91; Robert H . Smith, Frank Dufresne, and Henry A. Hansen, "Northern Watersheds and Deltas," in Waterfowl Tomorrow, ed. Joseph P. Linduska, (Washington, D.C.: United States Department of the Interior, Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife, Fish and Wildlife Service, 1964), 61-63; Blake and Steinhart, Tracks in the Sky, 4, 26; Frank C. Bellrose, Ducks, Geese, and Swans of North America (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Stockpole Books, 1980), 114-15. 7 Baldassarre and Bolen, Waterfowl Ecology and Management, 390 and Smith et al., "Northern Watersheds and Deltas," 57-59. 25 Widespread though they were, the wetlands and river deltas of the north were not nearly as productive per acre as wetlands further south, particularly on the Canadian and American prairies. Wetlands were common in the northern boreal forests, but the soils were poor and supported fewer of the marsh plants ducks and geese needed. However, since drought occurred less often in the north than it did on the prairies, the wetlands there were more dependable from year to year. The sheer size of the area also meant that it could support large waterfowl populations. Also, the dispersal of waterfowl over the vast territory meant that poor conditions in one part of the region would not have devastating consequences. Even more importantly, the region served as a place to which ducks and geese could retreat when droughts dried up wetlands on the prairies. Therefore, in addition to being an important breeding area for waterfowl every year, northern wetlands and deltas functioned as a safety valve for birds along the flyway. Ducks and geese could depend on the relatively pristine and drought-free areas in the North when conditions deteriorated on the Prairies. As we shall see below, the situation was considerably different in the wintering range.8 These northern areas were an opportunity and a problem. Although Alaska and northern Canada made up one of the largest wetland complexes in the world, waterfowl could only use them during the warmer months each year. Once winter arrived, waterfowl needed to migrate to areas where food was plentiful and open water was available for feeding and resting. Waterfowl migrated to the northern reaches annually, but they had to retreat quickly at the end of summer. Without dependable, high-quality wintering habitat, these northern areas were useless to waterfowl. 8 Baldassarre and Bolen, Waterfowl Ecology and Management, 388-89 and Smith et al., "Northern Watersheds and Deltas," 51-52, 65-66. 26 None of the wetlands in northern Canada or Alaska could compare to the incredible productivity of the Prairie Pothole Region. Although the area only contained a tenth of the duck-breeding area in North America, the Prairie Potholes supported between 50 and 80 percent of the continent's breeding ducks during the summer. Since most of these ducks migrated along other flyways, the region contributed fewer ducks and geese to the Pacific Flyway than the northern regions. If the Pacific Flyway were a river, the waterfowl from the Prairie Pothole would be tributary to the main stem of birds coming from Alaska and northwestern Canada. The reason for this area's productivity lay in the extensiveness and types of wetlands found there. The region is dotted with small ponds and marshes (most only a few acres in size) that formed at the end of the Pleistocene when the Laurentide Ice Sheet retreated, leaving blocks of ice in what is now southern Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. These 'potholes' (known as kettles) later became ponds and marshes. In some places, the density of potholes reached almost 40 per square kilometre. The exact number of potholes that existed prior to agricultural settlement of the Prairies is difficult to estimate because they were so numerous; some studies suggest that over ten million existed in Canada and one million in the United States.9 Changes in precipitation in the region from year to year made the potholes dynamic environments. In the fall, most potholes were dry or contained very little water. During the spring, they refilled with melting snow or rainwater, which evaporated over the course of the spring and summer. By late summer or early fall, many potholes would 9 Bruce D. J. Batt, Michael G. Anderson, C. Diane Anderson, and F. Dale Caswell, "The Use of Prairie Potholes by North American Ducks," in Northern Prairie Wetlands, ed. Arnold van der Valk, (Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1989), 204-25 and George A. Swanson and Harold F. Duebbert, "Wetland Habitats of Waterfowl in the Prairie Pothole Region," in Northern Prairie Wetlands, ed. Arnold van der Valk (Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1989), 228-67. 27 be dry once again. Different waterfowl species used the potholes differently, but the diversity of pothole types and the length of time they contained water was part of their attraction for waterfowl. Mallard and pintail ducks used a number of different types of potholes throughout the breeding and wintering season. Seasonal potholes often had abundant insects in the late spring, which was when ducks had higher protein needs for breeding. At other times, ducks sought out potholes with abundant vegetation to shelter their young. Over the course of the breeding season, ducks used between seven and twenty-two different potholes. Although each pothole was important, the assemblage of wetlands is what made this area so vital for waterfowl.10 Waterfowl could not rely on the availability of pothole wetlands every breeding season. During drought years, potholes often failed to fill with water or the water evaporated early in the season. Without pothole wetlands, waterfowl were forced to fly elsewhere to find breeding habitat. This usually meant flying further north to wetlands in the boreal region or river deltas. As mentioned previously, although wetlands in northern areas were less prone to drought, they were not as productive as prairie wetlands. Even with these 'back-up' northern wetlands, drought years led to sharp declines in waterfowl populations. Yet this dynamism was partly responsible for the productivity of prairie wetlands: the repeated drying and flooding of potholes allowed emergent marsh vegetation to flourish.11 1 0 Allen G. Smith, Jerome H . Stoudt, and J. Bernard Gollop, "Prairie Potholes and Marshes," in Waterfowl Tomorrow, ed. Joseph P. Linduska, (Washington, D.C.: United States Department of the Interior, Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife, Fish and Wildlife Service, 1964), 39-50. 1 1 Henry R. Murkin and Patrick J. Caldwell, "Avian Use of Prairie Wetlands," in Prairie Wetland Ecology : the Contribution of the Marsh Ecology Research Program, eds. Henry R. Murkin, Arnold G. van der Valk, and William R. Clark, (Ames: Iowa State 28 While Prairie Pothole wetlands were extremely significant for North American waterfowl in general, they contributed fewer birds to the Pacific Flyway than to the continent's other principal migration routes. There were exceptions to this general trend. For instance, most northern pintails and mallards found along the Pacific Flyway bred in the Prairie Potholes and wintered in the Central Valley of California. The relatively small contribution of Prairie Pothole birds to the Pacific Flyway had a number of implications. Most importantly, it meant that the draining and filling of Prairie Potholes in the twentieth century would have less impact of Pacific Flyway waterfowl populations than on the waterfowl of other flyways. Most of the wetlands in the breeding range of migratory waterfowl along this flyway were not seriously affected. Even in the late-twentieth century, northern wetlands in Alaska and Canada remained little altered by humans. Also, the boom-bust drought cycles that were so common in the Prairie Pothole Region occurred less frequently in the breeding range of most Pacific Flyway waterfowl.12 Unlike the primary breeding areas for Pacific Flyway waterfowl, which were extensive and continuous, the wetlands in the wintering range were more like an archipelago (Figure 1.1 and 1.2). Much of the West Coast was too mountainous for extensive wetlands to form. Along the coast, fjords between Alaska and southern British Columbia were not conducive environments for the creation of wetlands. Waterfowl University Press, 2000), 274-75 and William J. Mitsch and James G. Gosselink, Wetlands, 3 r d ed. (New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2000), 96-97. 1 2 The terms 'breeding' and 'wintering' areas should be seen as existing in a continuum rather than at two poles. In general, if food and open water were available during the colder months, waterfowl could winter in areas that were primarily used for breeding. Waterfowl also used some important wintering areas such as the Central Valley for breeding. However, these areas did not support breeding waterfowl in the numbers that the Prairie Pothole Region or the river deltas in the North did. 29 flying to wintering grounds beyond the Alaska's Copper River delta would not encounter another estuary of comparable size until they reached southwestern British Columbia. There, the Fraser River formed a large delta where the river entered the Georgia Strait. Birds congregated there, and at Sumas Lake a hundred kilometers east of the delta. Marshes were also abundant on the Chilcotin Plateau in British Columbia's interior, but like the wetlands further north, these wetlands were only used by waterfowl in the warmer months. In coastal areas, where the temperatures were mild, migrants could live in large numbers throughout the winter. Because of this, most British Columbia wetlands were primarily breeding and staging areas for birds that wintered to the south.13 The lowlands surrounding the Strait of Georgia and Puget Sound were also valuable habitat for migratory waterfowl. Bogs and marshes formed in the depressions left by retreating glaciers were common throughout the area. As in the far north, the river deltas were the most important areas for migrating ducks and geese. Largest among these was the Fraser River delta, but the deltas of the Skagit, Duwamish, and Nisqually also attracted waterfowl. These lowlands were transitional areas for migratory waterfowl. Some species or populations of waterfowl ventured no further and wintered in these areas. Others used this as a staging site before continuing on to other wintering areas. It was this mosaic of habitats that attracted the waterfowl.14 13 R. Wayne Campbell et al., The Birds of British Columbia: Volume I. Nonpasserines. Introduction and Loons through Waterfowl, Vol . I (Victoria, B.C.: Royal British Columbia Museum, 1990), passim and O. Slaymaker, M . Bovis, M . North, T. R. Oke, and J. Ryder, "The Primordial Environment," in Vancouver and Its Region, ed. Graeme Wynn and Timothy Oke (Vancouver: U B C Press, 1992), 36-37. 1 4 Arthur R. Kruckeberg, The Natural History of Puget Sound Country (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1991), 276-84 and Matthew W. Klingle, "Urban by Nature: An Environmental History of Seattle, 1880-1970" (Ph.D. diss., University of Washington, 2001), 22-89. 30 Many large wetlands were found in the wide depressions of the Great Basin, a physiographic province encompassing most of Nevada as well as southeastern Oregon, western Utah, and southern Arizona (Figure 1.3). Without any natural outlet, the rivers flowing from the north-south trending mountains in the region drained into basins, where, over time, much of the water evaporated. In an environment with such high evaporation rates and no drainage, the remaining lake water became hypersaline. The Great Salt Lake in northern Utah was the largest of these lakes. Smaller lakes like Lake Abert in Oregon, Pyramid and Winnemucca lakes in Nevada, and Mono and Owens lakes in California were also important. These lakes were particularly valuable for non-waterfowl species like American avocets, snowy plovers, phalaropes, and eared grebes that could tolerate the saline water and feed on the relatively small number of species living in the lakes. Most Great Basin lakes were too saline too support abundant wetlands, but in the cases where modest drainage occurred or when rivers emptied into the lakes, extensive marshes could form. This was the case in the Malheur and Klamath Basins of central Oregon. In both areas, there was sufficient drainage to prevent lakes from developing salt levels that would inhibit wetland development.15 1 5 John A. Kadlec and Loren M . Smith, "The Great Basin Marshes," in Habitat Management for Migrating and Wintering Waterfowl in North America, ed. Loren M . Smith, Roger L. Pederson and Richard M . Kaminski, (Lubbock: Texas Tech University Press, 1989), 451-56. See also Donald K. Grayson, Desert's Past: A Natural Prehistory of the Great Basin (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1993); Fred A. Ryser, Jr., Birds of the Great Basin: a Natural History (Reno: University of Nevada Press, 1985), 1-14; and Stephen Trimble The Sagebrush Ocean: A Natural History of the Great Basin (Reno: University of Nevada Press, 1989); Joseph R. Jehl Jr., "Changes in Saline and Alkaline Lake Avifaunas in Western North America in the Past 150 Years," in A Century of Avifaunal Change in Western North America, ed. Joseph R. Jehl Jr. and Ned K. Johnson, Studies in Avian Biology No. 15 (Cooper Ornithological Society, 1994), 258-72. 31 More than any other areas along the Pacific Flyway, the lakes and marshes of the Great Basin were subject to change that likely affected the distribution of waterfowl. During the Pleistocene, immense lakes (Lake Modoc, Lake Lohontan, and Lake Bonneville) connected most of the now-dry valleys.1 6 Over past 12,000 years, the distribution and size of Great Basin lakes changed in response to the climate. Most of these lakes disappeared as the climate warmed, but between 10,000 and 8,000 years ago, many of the valleys within the Great Basin contained substantial marshes. Paleoecologists and geologists have found evidence of cattails and other marsh vegetation from that time in the Las Vegas Valley of southern Nevada. Scientists also believe that the marshes at Ruby Lake in central Nevada were deeper and more extensive than they are today. The bones of ducks and other wetland-dependent bird species found in the basin sediments from this period show that waterfowl used the area extensively. Presumably, other valleys in the Great Basin also had lakes and marshes during this era. These marshes disappeared as the southern Great Basin became drier and warmer about 7,000 years ago. Until approximately 4,500 years ago, Great Basin conditions were hotter and drier than they are today. Cooler conditions after that time enabled some marshes to form, but neither these wetlands nor the lakes were as extensive as they were during the early Holocene.1 7 These long-term changes in Great Basin climate and hydrology are important because they show that waterfowl had to adapt to a changing environments before the arrival of Euroamericans. No doubt waterfowl numbers rose and fell in relation to the 1 6 Samuel N . Dicken, "Pluvial Lake Modoc, Klamath County, Oregon, and Modoc and Siskiyou Counties, California," Oregon Geology 42, no. 11 (1980): 179-87; Grayson, Desert's Past, 97-98, 111; and Trimble, The Sagebrush Ocean, 136-40. 1 7 Grayson, Desert's Past, 194-97, 208-21. 32 conditions of the lakes and marshes in the Great Basin. Waterfowl were able to adapt to these changes because other wetlands and lakes were available in other parts of the wintering range. Migratory routes likely changed as wetlands were created, destroyed, or altered. Migratory waterfowl used the lakes and wetlands of the Great Basin primarily as staging areas during migration. The largest and most important of these areas was the 18 Klamath Basin on the Oregon-California border. Eighty percent of Pacific Flyway waterfowl used the basin's wetlands during their migrations. Birds migrating from the Arctic, Prairie Pothole Region, and Great Basin funneled through the basin en route to wetlands further south. Up to seven million ducks and geese congregated there to feed and rest while migrating.19 The Klamath Basin had a unique waterscape that contributed to its importance as a staging area for migratory birds (Figure 1.4). Waterfowl stopped in the basin during fall and spring migrations to rest and feed before continuing on to the wintering or breeding areas. Since all of the lakes in the basin had at least partial drainage, none of them became hypersaline. However, not all of the lakes were equally attractive to waterfowl. Most of Upper Klamath Lake was too deep to support wetlands, but like the lakes in the Great Basin, freshwater marshes formed on the lake's margins such as where 18 Technically, the Klamath Basin is just to the west of the Great Basin boundary. Unlike other valleys in the Great Basin, it is drained by a river (the Klamath River, which empties into the Pacific). But as the rest of the discussion shows, the area has many similarities to Great Basin lakes and marshes. 1 9 Wetland population estimates are for the 1950s. USDI Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Regional Director, Portland 18, Oregon, "Special Report on Waterfowl Requirements: Tule Lake and Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuges, Klamath Basin, California and Oregon," Refuge Files, K B N W R - HQ, 15-17 and Tupper Ansel Blake, Madeleine Graham Blake, and William Kittredge, Balancing Water: Restoring the Klamath Basin (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000). 33 the Williamson River emptied into the lake. Clear Lake, surrounded by sagebrush on a high plateau of the Klamath Basin, was fringed by freshwater marshes. The best waterfowl habitat, however, was found on Lower Klamath Lake and on Tule Lake. Although called lakes, both areas were a mixture of marshes and open water. The diversity of marshes and water depths attracted the largest congregations of ducks and geese in the Klamath Basin. Water for Lower Klamath Lake came from the Klamath River via Klamath Straits, a channel that connected the river to the lake. During spring freshets, water flowed from the Klamath River into Lower Klamath Lake. When the river subsided, water flowed from the lake back into the Klamath River. This seasonal flow of water into and out of the lake prevented the lake from becoming hypersaline like lakes in the Great Basin. Although Lower Klamath and Tule Lakes were only a few miles apart, they were in different watersheds (a ridge separated the two lakes). Tule Lake received its water from the Lost River, which originated at Clear Lake and took a circuitous path flowing north-west before altering course southwards into Tule Lake. Even though Tule Lake lacked a surface outlet, it never became hypersaline. Geologists suspected that water 20 seeped through the vesicular basalt underlying the southern portion of the lake. The wetlands in the Klamath Basin and Great Basin were important stops for migrating waterfowl, but few birds wintered in these areas. The frigid winters common throughout the inland West forced the waterfowl to travel to more hospitable climates. The ultimate destination for many of these birds was the Central Valley of California, the wintering grounds for 60 percent of Pacific Flyway waterfowl (Figure 1.5 and 1.6). 2 0 Stanton B. Turner, "Reclamation - a New Look for the Tule Lake and Klamath Lake Basins," Journal of the Shaw Historical Library 2, no. 2 (1988): 30. 34 Hemmed in by the Coast Range to the west and the Sierra Nevada Mountains to the east, the Central Valley stretched for four hundred miles through the heart of California. Divided into two sub-valleys, the Sacramento and San Joaquin, this very large valley had an enormous delta at the confluence of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers. Riparian forests once cloaked the banks of the rivers and the meandering channels in the delta. Freshwater marshes formed on the floodplains of the river and saltwater marshes rimmed the edges of the bay. Together, these extensive wetlands served as habitat for the largest 21 wintering population of waterfowl in the United States. This is surprising given the aridity of the region. The annual rainfall in the valley ranges between eight and twenty inches (Figure 1.7). But the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers were fed by melting snow pack and rainfall in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. In the northern part of the valley, the Sacramento River flooded annually creating a vast, temporary inland lake. Although much of this water receded through the summer months, it nourished the freshwater marshes on the floodplain, particularly along the lower stretches of the river near the delta. Flooding was less common along the San Joaquin River (which had a much smaller annual discharge) and marshes were restricted to riparian areas and the lower reaches of the river. The most abundant habitat for migratory waterfowl in the San Joaquin Valley was in the Tulare, Buena Vista, and Kern Lakes in the southern part of the valley. Until the mid-nineteenth century, Hundley, The Great Thirst, 5-9; Allan A. Schoenherr, A Natural History of California (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992), 516-19; Mickey E. Heitmeyer, Daniel P. Connelly, and Roger L. Pederson, "The Central, Imperial, and Cochella Valleys of California," in Habitat Management for Migrating and Wintering Waterfowl in North America, ed. Loren M . Smith, Roger L . Pederson and Richard M . Kaminski (Lubbock: Texas Tech University Press, 1989), 475; Baldassarre and Bolen, Waterfowl Ecology and Management, 407-10. 35 Tulare Lake was the largest freshwater lake in the western United States. Tules and other marsh plants were so thick on the edges of the lake that it was difficult to see open water from shore. When spring river flows were particularly heavy, sloughs connected the three lakes creating an important hydrologic network in this arid region. During wet years, wetlands covered up to one million hectares of the valley floor. 2 2 Since detailed surveys of the waterfowl populations did not begin until the 1950s, estimating the number of ducks and geese that wintered in the Central Valley prior to the twentieth century is difficult. The environmental historian Ann Vileisis used the relationship between average waterfowl population in the 1980s and available Central Valley wetland habitat at the time to estimate the number of ducks and geese wintering in the valley before Euroamerican settlement. Using this technique, she estimated that thirty-five million Pacific Flyway waterfowl wintered in this part of California. 2 3 Some waterfowl biologists make even higher estimates: Guy A . Baldassarre and Eric G. Bolen estimate that the waterfowl population may have been fifty million as late as the 1940s.24 Although it is impossible to estimate the exact number of waterfowl that wintered in the Central Valley before the nineteenth century, it is clear that the numbers were far higher than they are today.25 Some Pacific Flyway birds continued their southward migration beyond the Central Valley to wetlands in northern Mexico. One of the largest was the Colorado Heitmeyer et al., "The Central, Imperial, and Cochella Valleys," 476-80. 2 3 Vileisis, Discovering the Unknown Landscape, 26, 355. 2 4 Baldassarre and Bolen, Waterfowl Ecology and Management, 407. 2 5 However, as I will show in future chapters, some of the natural wetlands were replaced by cultivated wetlands like rice fields that waterfowl used. The development of cereal crops in the Central Valley also offset the loss of natural wetland foods since some species of waterfowl (particularly geese) can consume crops such as wheat and barley. 36 River delta, located just south of the California-Mexico border. Covering over 3,300 square miles, the delta was a vital oasis for migrating birds along this part of the flyway. The Sonoran Desert, one of the hottest and driest parts of North America, surrounds the delta. Within this desert region, the delta's thousands of acres of marshes, sloughs, and lagoons provided habitat for many species of ducks and geese. The rarity of such habitat in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands is what made the area so crucial for migratory birds. The 26 highly variable flow of the Colorado River also contributed to the delta's productivity. As in the Central Valley, there were no detailed surveys of waterfowl populations in the Colorado River delta during the early twentieth century. The area remained poorly known by American ornithologists. Aldo Leopold ventured into the delta region by canoe in 1922 on a hunting expedition, which he described over two decades later in A Sand County Almanac. For two weeks, Leopold and his brother hunted geese and paddled through the lush lagoons of the delta. When Leopold climbed a cottonwood to survey the area, he saw the delta spreading in all directions toward the horizon. To Leopold, this land of abundant bird life was a "milk-and-honey wilderness" that stayed with him for the rest of his life. Flocks of snow geese and sandhill cranes flew overhead. He and his brother were "sharing our wilderness with the wildest of living fowl. We and they have Godfrey Sykes, The Colorado Delta (Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Institution of Washington and the American Geographical Society of New York, 1937), 1, 3; Edward P. Glenn, Christopher Lee, and Carlos Valdes-Casillas, "Introduction," Journal of Arid Environments 49 (2001): 1-4; and Jennifer Pitt, "Can We Restore the Colorado River Delta?" Journal of Arid Environments 49 (2001): 211-13. 37 found a common home in the remote fastnesses of space and time; we were both back in the Pleistocene."27 Within the span of a few weeks or months, Pacific Flyway waterfowl traveled between radically different surroundings. Some started their journey in Arctic or Subarctic river deltas amid a patchwork of wetlands extending for hundreds of square miles. As they traveled further south, the birds entered arid western North America where the wetlands were restricted to the valleys between mountain ranges of the deltas of major rivers like those of the Sacramento-San Joaquin and the Colorado. Compared to the extensive northern wetlands, these areas were like an archipelago surrounded by deserts. In places such as the Klamath and Malheur basins, the marshes were large enough to support millions of birds for a few weeks during the fall and spring migrations. Even though they lay within deserts, the frigid winters made it impossible for most waterfowl to remain throughout the winter. Compared to other parts of the country, the total acreage of wetlands in the western states was meager. Because of this, ducks and geese congregated in the few wetland areas in greater numbers than any other part of the United States. The multitudes of waterfowl were a reflection of the scarcity of habitat not its plentifulness. If these wetlands disappeared, there was nowhere for the birds to retreat. Connecting Wetlands - waterfowl and migration Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac, and Sketches Here and There (New York: Oxford University Press, 1949; reprint, New York: Oxford University Press, 1989), 146, 148. 38 Wetlands in western North American supported hundreds of different types of animals, but none of them were more prominent than ducks and geese. It was common to see tens of thousands of ducks and geese in the tule marshes of the Central Valley or in the channels of the delta of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers. Migratory waterfowl were so numerous that they became as closely identified with western marshes and estuaries as bison were associated with the Great Plains and salmon with the rivers of the Pacific Northwest.28 The degree to which waterfowl depend on wetlands varies by species. Some species are better able to use other food outside of wetlands for survival. Swans and geese, for instance, are herbivores that feed on wetland plants as well as grasses. These types of waterfowl would later prove adept at eating cultivated plants such as barley, wheat, and rice. Other waterfowl species, including dabbling ducks, feed on wetland plants and invertebrates. The diet of ducks and geese also varies throughout the year. During the winter, most waterfowl tend to eat plants since they need abundant carbohydrates to carry them through the season. In the breeding season, however, many species of waterfowl need more protein which they get by eating insects. The availability of insects partly affects the nesting sites chosen by mallards, northern pintails, and other ducks.2 9 On the identification of bison and salmon with their environments, see Andrew C. Isenberg, The Destruction of the Bison: An Environmental History, 1750-1920 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000); Taylor, Making Salmon and Richard White, The Organic Machine: The Remaking of the Columbia River (New York: Hi l l and Wang, 1995), 90-92. 2 9 Guy A. Baldassarre and Eric G. Bolen, Waterfowl Ecology and Management (New York: John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 1994), 167, 178-89. 39 Although the migration of birds is commonly associated with the onset of fall or spring, birds do not migrate primarily to escape winter. If food is plentiful, waterfowl can handle very cold temperatures. They are forced to leave the Arctic and Subarctic because food is extremely scarce or covered by snow. Finding food generally means traveling southwards (though in Europe and Asia, birds migrate along an east-west axis). Despite the different migration strategies of other avian species, the general north-south pattern most people associate with bird migration holds true for waterfowl in the northern hemisphere.30 While most people use the term migration to refer simply to the movement of someone or something from one place to another, biologists have more restrictive definitions. Migration is a coping mechanism for dealing with the uneven distribution of resources across time and space. Birds can exploit the often seasonally available resources in northern latitudes even though such places cannot support them throughout the entire year. Since other animals like terrestrial mammals or amphibians are unable to travel great distances, they must adapt to the lack of resources during the winter months by hibernating or using other survival strategies to make it through to spring.3 1 Birds can overcome the distances and geographical constraints that other animals cannot.32 The biologist Hugh Dingle provides a more nuanced view of migration. He sees migration as a very specific kind of movement used by many types of organisms. Rather Scott Weidensaul, Living on the Wind: Across the Hemisphere with Migratory Birds (New York: North Point Press, 1999), 21, 33. 3 1 Some mammals such as caribou do make annual migrations of hundreds of miles. Compared to the thousands of miles covered by many species of migrating birds, the migrations of caribou and other terrestrial mammals are relatively short. 3 2 Peter Berthold, Bird Migration: A General Survey, 2 n d ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), 1-2 and 40 than providing a simple definition for the term, he examines some of the more important characteristics of migration. First, migration is a persistent movement that lasts longer than the normal, everyday journeys an animal might make. Waterfowl fly within a limited range to find food on a daily basis, but while migrating, the birds can fly non-stop for many hours (or in some cases, days) until they reach their destination or until they deplete their reserves of fat. Second, the movement is linear and lacking the frequent changes of direction common in everyday flights for food and shelter. Migrating species will not eat during their journey until they deplete their fat reserves. For birds, this means often ignoring food sources and resting sites like wetlands until they complete their journey or are physically incapable of continuing. Another example familiar to many in the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia is the migration of salmon from the ocean up the region's rivers and streams. Salmon will continue on their journey without feeding until they arrive at their spawning grounds or die in the process.33 At first glance, migration might appear to be the perfect solution to dealing with the seasonal availability of resources that are widely separated. Birds can feed on the vegetation available in the northern latitudes during the warmer months, and then fly to places with more hospitable climates for the rest of the year. Their ability to fly enables them to leave these areas quickly before winter makes them inhospitable. After reaching lower latitudes, they can take advantage of the greater food sources available during the winter season before returning north again. But these advantages are not without difficulty. Many of the birds that leave northern breeding ranges never reach their final 3 3 Hugh Dingle, Migration: The Biology of Life on the Move (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), 23. 41 destination. Storms blow the birds off course or force them to land prematurely. A poor year for food in the breeding range can leave waterfowl with insufficient fat reserves to make the migratory journey. In the wintering range, droughts can dry up aquatic habitats - a serious and frequent problem in the southern portion of the Pacific Flyway. 3 4 Since migratory waterfowl depend on widely dispersed wetlands along their migratory routes, they are particularly vulnerable if conditions reduce resources in any of these habitats over the course of the year. Pristine breeding grounds are of little use if there are no wetlands in the birds' wintering range. The destruction of habitat in one part of the flyway can have distant geographical ramifications. Though the birds need wetlands in different places throughout year, the way they use them differs depending on the season. In the winter or non-breeding season, waterfowl need wetlands for resting and food. Since geese and swans are able to eat non-wetland vegetation, they can also feed in upland areas away from wetlands. During the breeding season, the habitat needs of waterfowl are more restricted. They depend on wetland vegetation to build their nests. More importantly, they need protein from wetland insects in order to produce viable clutches of eggs.35 Different species of waterfowl and populations within species show affinities for particular areas, often traveling from the same wintering to breeding grounds each year. Although birds might travel from each place annually, these routes are not fixed. Waterfowl can and do adapt to new environmental conditions. While waterfowl have an innate ability to orient themselves during migration, finding appropriate wintering and 3 4 Ibid., 322-23, 350. 3 5 Baldassarre and Bolen, Waterfowl Management, 178-81. 42 breeding grounds is often a learned behavior. Waterfowl are particularly adept at learning migration routes from other ducks, geese, and swans. "The timing of migration seems to be innate, as is a very general compass bearing," writes Scott Weidensaul. " A duck raised in isolation knows how to migrate, but not specifically where. Among these birds, and unlike almost all others, the details are bound up in tradition, passed on by older generations."36 In effect, migration is partly a learned behavior within populations of waterfowl as each new generation of ducks and geese become familiar with migration routes from older waterfowl. When food is available year round, some waterfowl species stop migrating altogether. This strategy can only persist when local resources are abundant. However, if habitat conditions change years later, the population of waterfowl no longer remembers the migration routes traveled by its ancestors. On the other hand, since the exact routes of migration are not genetically determined, waterfowl can adapt to the loss or creation of new habitats along the flyway. In the twentieth-century, drastic habitat transformations along the Pacific Flyway forced just such change in migration and behavior.37 Conclusion The wetlands of the Far West served as vital links in the annual migratory journeys of waterfowl. These migrations were adaptations to the uneven distribution of resources spread across the continent. By migrating, waterfowl were able to gain access to the abundant resources available in northern latitudes (particularly within Arctic and Subarctic river deltas) during the summer months. Unlike non-avian or marine species, 3 6 Weidensaul, Living on the Wind, 68. 3 7 Ibid., 68-74. 43 migratory waterfowl were able to leave these areas quickly before colder temperatures made them inhospitable. Within the wintering range of the Pacific Flyway, migratory waterfowl found food in western marshes and estuaries as well as open water for resting. Migration came with substantial costs, too. Storms could blow migrants off course or force birds to expend so much energy that they were unable to reach their wintering quarters. Drought could dry-up wetlands in part of the flyway. Migratory paths were flexible enough to enable the birds to adapt to these changes. They could cope with the loss of some wetlands along the flyway. But the system was not infinitely flexible. Migrants still needed wetlands in both the breeding and wintering areas: abundant wetlands in good condition in one part of the flyway meant little if wetlands were unavailable in another part. Like a chain, the flyway was only as strong as its weakest link. Over the course of the twentieth century, most of the wetlands in the wintering range of the Pacific Flyway were destroyed. The waterfowl that survived this loss of habitat congregated in smaller pockets of wetlands, particularly in the Central Valley of California. While wetlands had disappeared in the past, particularly during wet-dry cycles of a few years or more, these losses were not usually permanent except over the long-term. The destruction of wetlands occurred within the context of a dynamic environment to which waterfowl had adapted. Their ability to adapt had and has limits. They could and can survive if wetlands remained in both the wintering and breeding 3 8 Scott Weidensaul uses this metaphor in Living on the Wind: "Migration depends upon links - food, safe havens, quiet roost sites, clean water, and a host of other resources, strung out in due measure and regular occurrence along routes that may cross thousands of miles. But we are breaking those links with abandon." (27) 44 range, but not if the wetlands were eliminated in either area. The following chapters will examine the history of efforts to sustain migratory waterfowl within this reduced and compromised habitat. 45 Figure 1.1: Breeding and wintering grounds for North American waterfowl. Source: Milton W. Weller, Freshwater Marshes: Ecology and Wildlife Management, 3 ed. (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1994), 6. 46 Figure 1.2: Average breeding distribution of North American ducks. Source: Ernest A . Cote, "Beyond National Boundaries," in Waterfowl Tomorrow, ed. Joseph P. Linduska, (Washington, D.C.: United States Department of the Interior, Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife, Fish and Wildlife Service, 1964), 720. 47 Figure 1.3: Principal lakes and marshes within the intermountain western United States. Source: John A. Kadlec, and Loren M . Smith, "The Great Basin Marshes," in Habitat Management for Migrating and Wintering Waterfowl in North America, ed. Loren M . Smith, Roger L. Pederson and Richard M . Kaminski (Lubbock: Texas Tech University Press, 1989), 452. 48 Figure 1.4: The Klamath Basin, late nineteenth century. Source: Albert Samuel, The Klamath Indians of Southwestern Oregon (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1890). Reprinted in Tupper Ansel Blake, Madeleine Graham Blake, and William Kittredge, Balancing Water: Restoring the Klamath Basin (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000), 47 49 Figure 1.5: Distribution of wetlands and grasslands in the Central and Imperial Valleys of California. Source: Mickey E. Heitmeyer, Daniel P. Connelly, and Roger L. Pederson, "The Central, Imperial, and Cochella Valleys of California," in Habitat Management for Migrating and Wintering Waterfowl in North America, edited by Loren M . Smith, Roger L. Pederson and Richard M . Kaminski, 475-505, (Lubbock: Texas Tech University Press, 1989), 476. 50 GcoaeLake lower Klamath, lake j * V RtettCcui^ lake pReSHVSWTER M A R S H ANNUALLy fXOODeO L A N D O C C U p i g D B U T U L E S , CATTAILS A N D O T H E R . - V E G E T A T I O N R E Q U I R I N G A N A B U N D A N C E o p W A T E R . B RIPARIAN p o n e s r WOOPS OF peCIDUOUS B R O A D l f A F S FOUND OROWINO B E S l D e RIVERS AND STWAAXS OR ON THEIR B A N K S A N D IN B O T T O M L A N D S . COASTAL BRACKISH MARSH A R E A S C O V E R E D B y A L T E R N A T I N G p L O W S Op P R 6 5 H A N D SALT W A T E R • LAU€5 eSTlMATeO N A T U R A L 3HOR6UM6S T O L E R A T I N G . C O A S T A L P L A N T S L O C A T E D IN S H A L L O W B A V S , E S T U A R I E S A N D L A G O O N * IN T H E E L E V A T E D P O R T I O N S O F 1 N T B R T T D A L Z O N E S . S A U N e A N D A L U £ U N e L A N D S L O C A T E D IN S I N K S A N D B A S I N R I M S W H I C H p E R I O D I C A U V HOLD r ~ * r * * J ^ * ^ u n n n c n w / i T i i ' A U N E OLD P O N D S C H A R G E D W I H R A L S . Figure 1.6: Distribution of lakes, marshes, and riparian areas in California before Euroamerican settlement. Source: Norris Hundley Jr., The Great Thirst: Californians and Water: a History, rev. ed. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001), 6. 51 Figure 1.7: Mean annual precipitation in California. Source: Norris Hundley Jr., The Great Thirst: Californians and Water: a History, rev. ed. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001), 14. 52 Chapter Two Shrinking Oases By the early twentieth century, most wetlands in the wintering range of migratory waterfowl were gone. Technological innovations such as industrial dredges made it easier to drain wetlands and to eliminate riparian areas by diking riverbanks. In addition to these technological developments, most settlers in the Far West saw wetlands as impediments to progress. They valued marshes and other wetlands primarily for their agricultural potential.1 In drier parts of the western United States, settlers also wanted to divert water that supported wetlands for municipal or agricultural uses. A series of state and federal Swamp Land Acts provided governments with the legislative support to drain wetlands. Together these technological innovations, cultural attitudes, and legal means enabled the destruction of many wetlands in the Far West.2 Sport and market hunters also exacted a toll on waterfowl and other migratory bird species. To curb this loss, the U.S. Congress passed the Lacey Act in 1900, which prohibited the shipment of birds taken illegally in one state into another state. Until the passage of the Lacey Act, wildlife was considered a responsibility of the states not the federal government. More comprehensive legislation to protect migratory birds came with the signing of the Migratory Bird Treaty between Canada and the United State in 1916. The treaty established uniform hunting regulations in the two countries. The Ann Vileisis, Discovering the Unknown Landscape: A History of America's Wetlands (Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 1997), 71-75. In this chapter, the term "Far West" refers to the West Coast states (California, Oregon, and Washington) and the southern half of British Columbia. 3 Michael J. Bean and Melaine J. Rowland, The Evolution of National Wildlife Law, 3rd ed. (Westport, Connecticut: Praeger Publishers, 1997), 38-42 and Albert M . Day, North American Waterfowl (New York: Stackpole and Heck, Inc., 1949), 41-46. 53 treaty permitted waterfowl hunting only between the months of September and March, prohibited the harvesting of breeding waterfowl or their eggs, outlawed the shooting of 'nongame' insectivorous birds, and provided special protection to wood ducks and eider ducks. Negotiation of the treaty signaled a new legislative framework pertaining to wildlife between the United States and Canada. American and Canadian wildlife officials would build on this relationship as they developed methods to manage migratory waterfowl as well as to regulate hunting in the following decades.4 Conservationists also took preliminary measures toward establishing sanctuaries where hunting was prohibited. Early efforts focused on the Klamath and Malheur Basins of central Oregon, two staging areas used by birds while en route to wintering or breeding grounds. Over 80 percent of waterfowl along the Pacific Flyway funneled into the basin during their fall migrations. These marshes were oases for migratory birds flying over the high desert. Though few birds wintered in these areas, most depended on these marshes to rest and feed during their journey to the main wintering areas in California and Mexico. In the fall, as many as seven million waterfowl rested in these 4 The United States and Great Britain (on Canada's behalf) signed the Migratory Bird Treaty in 1916. A year later, the Canadian Parliament ratified the treaty (Migratory Birds Convention Act), and in 1918, the U.S. Congress did the same (the Migratory Bird Treaty Act). KurkDorsey, "Scientists, Citizens, and Statesmen: U.S.-Canadian Wildlife Protection Treaties in the Progressive Era," Diplomatic History 19, no. 3 (1995): 422-27 and The Dawn of Conservation Diplomacy: U.S.-Canadian Wildlife Protection Treaties During the Progressive Era (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1998), 167-237; Janet Foster, Working for Wildlife: The Beginnings of Preservation in Canada, 2 n d ed. (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1998). 54 areas, feeding on aquatic plants or flying overhead, creating, according to some observers, one of the great wildlife spectacles in North America. 5 Early in the twentieth century, the bird protection movement would see some of its initial victories and greatest tragedies in these remote marshes. Due in good measure to the efforts of William Finley, the president of the Oregon chapter of the National Association of Audubon Societies and a professional wildlife photographer, the movement secured federal protection for these areas. But such protection proved ephemeral. Like the Migratory Bird Treaty, the legislation establishing these sanctuaries was designed to protect waterfowl from hunting, not to protect their wetland habitat. Though presidential decree created these refuges, private irrigators and other federal agencies destroyed some of them and badly degraded others. Conservationists waged a prolonged and losing campaign to halt this destruction. Still, along the way, bird protectionists developed tools to restore marshes and gained experience dealing with those who wished to reclaim wetlands. These refuges later became key components in a more ambitious wildlife refuge system created along the Pacific Flyway during the 1930s and 1940s. Tupper Ansel Blake, Madeleine Graham Blake, and William Kittredge, Balancing Water: Restoring the Klamath Basin (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000), 1. 55 Reclaiming the Land, Draining the Skies6 A time-lapse film above the West Coast states and British Columbia between 1890 and the mid-1930s would show the shrinkage and often the disappearance of marshes, vernal pools, and riparian vegetation. Over this period, irrigation and river development destroyed a large percentage of the wetlands in California, Oregon, and Washington. California lost 90 percent of its wetlands - the greatest percentage of wetland loss in the United States. Although settlers destroyed fewer wetlands in British Columbia, the ones they did eliminate were vital. Waterfowl and other migratory birds endured this onslaught of their habitat, though in greatly diminished numbers. In most places, few people opposed draining these wetlands and the government actively supported such plans. This section will examine the reasons behind the destruction of wetlands in some of the key areas along the Pacific Flyway. It will also explain why the wetlands in the southern portion of the chain of wetlands extending from the Arctic to California were eliminated. It is crucial to understand this history in order to make sense of the development of the refuge program. The history of this destruction influenced all future efforts at managing wetlands and migratory waterfowl along the Pacific Flyway. There was less wetland destruction in British Columbia than in the states to the south. However, the drainage occurred in some of the most important marshes used by 6 The phrase "draining the skies" comes from Peter Steinhart. Tupper Ansel Blake and Peter Steinhart, Tracks in the Sky: Wildlife and Wetlands of the Pacific Fly way (San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1987), 108. 7 Oregon lost 38 percent, Washington 31 percent. William J. Mitsch and James G. Gosselink, Wetlands, 3 r d ed. (New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2000), 84. These figures represent wetland loss up to 1990. However, as this chapter will show, much of the wetland loss occurred before the 1940s. See also W. E. Frayer, Dennis D. Peters, and H . Ross Pywell, "Wetlands of the Central Valley: Status and Trends, 1939 to Mid-1980s," Portland, Oregon: United States Fish and Wildlife Service, 1989). 56 migratory waterfowl in the province. Although most of British Columbia received abundant rainfall, extensive wetlands were uncommon west of the Coast Range and Cascade Mountains. Topography restricted wetlands to the narrow river valleys and to the estuaries of the rivers that poured into the ocean. Some of the most important wetlands were found along the lower reaches of the Fraser River, the largest river in the province. The broad plain formed by the river near its mouth (known as the Lower Mainland) held many freshwater and saltwater marshes as well as shallow lakes, including Sumas Lake. The fertile soil of the bottomlands attracted non-Native settlers in the late nineteenth century who cleared the forest and created farms. By the first decades of the twentieth century, settlers also sought to drain the valley's wetlands. Sumas Lake was the site of the most ambitious draining program. For the St6:lo people, whose territory included the lake, the area had long been a valued place to harvest resources. The St6:lo captured large lake sturgeon, and when the waterfowl came in the autumn, they caught ducks and geese on the lake using nets strung between poles. In the late nineteenth-century, Eurocanadian settlers arrived and homesteaded land purchased under the Pre-Emption Act of 1860. In a highly contested process, the St6:lo were relegated to small reserves on the margins of the lake to make way for these T. R. Oke, M . North, O. Slaymaker, and D . G . Steyn, "Primordial to Prim Order: A Century of Environmental Change" and Cole Harris, "The Lower Mainland, 1820-81," in Vancouver and Its Region, ed. Graeme Wynn and T im Oke (Vancouver: U B C Press, 1992), 152-57; Alfred H . Siemens, "The Process of Settlement in the Lower Fraser Valley — in Its Provincial Context," 27-39 and George R. Winter, "Agricultural Development in the Lower Fraser Valley," 101-16 in IjowerFraser Valley: Evolution of a Cultural Landscape, ed. Alfred H . Siemens (Vancouver: Tantalus Research l imited, 1968), 27-39; Barry Leach, "Waterfowl on a Pacific Esturary: A Natural History of Man and Waterfowl on the Lower Fraser River," British Columbia Provincial Museum Special Publication no. 5, (Victoria: British Columbia Provincial Musuem, 1982); Laura Cameron, Openings: A. Meditation on History, Method, and Sumas hake (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1997) 57 settlers. To facilitate the development of the wetlands into agricultural areas, the Dominion of Canada gave the Province of British Columbia control over the 45,000 acres of the lake and marsh area with a view toward development.9 Although hunters from Vancouver and other towns in the region hunted waterfowl on and near Sumas Lake, they could not stop plans to drain it in the early 1920s. This drainage was justified by proponents who wanted to open the area for agricultural settlement and for mosquito control. Even Gordon Hewitt, one of Canada's leaders in conservation, was a strong proponent of drainage. Hewitt, an entomologist employed by the federal government, argued that draining Sumas Lake seemed like the best way to reduce what most settlers considered a terrible nuisance. With the support of the Dominion of Canada, local groups constructed dikes and pumps to 'reclaim' the lake. By 1924, the lake was gone. Locals people said that for years afterward, waterfowl returned to the area and circled overhead searching for the lake that no longer existed.10 The destruction of Sumas Lake and the marshes surrounding it was deliberate. Modifications along the banks of the Fraser River resulted in the unintended alteration of riparian areas and the reduction of wetlands. Farmers and municipalities began constructing dikes along the Fraser River as early as the 1860s. Only after a devastating flood in 1894 did the province intercede to direct the reconstruction of dikes and provide funds for their maintenance. "The magnitude of the task places it beyond the ability of private enterprise and makes it clearly the duty of the State to undertake," said 9 Cameron, Openings, 50-57. Sumas Lake lay within the Railway Belt, an area twenty miles wide on each side the of the Canadian Pacific Railway line. British Columbia ceded land within the belt to the dominion in 1883, but in 1896, the dominion returned Sumas Lake to the province. 1 0 Ibid., 60-74. 58 British Columbia Premier Theodore Davie. 1 1 While it provided oversight, the province did not build the dikes. Private diking districts constructed them, though the province provided financial support when districts were unable to finance dike construction themselves. The dikes eventually protected over 160,000 acres of farmland, over a third ^ of the agricultural land in the province. Though riparian marshes could develop between the dikes and the Fraser River, riprap placed along the sides of the dikes to protect them from erosion hindered the development of wetlands. Taken together, these actions effectively starved wetlands in the floodplain of water and made it easier for farmers to transform the area into terrestrial habitats.12 In the United States, federal legislation encouraged wetland drainage. In the mid-nineteenth century, the U.S. Congress passed several acts that gave the states greater legislative authority to acquire and drain wetlands. The first was the Swamp Land Act of 1849, which transferred ownership of swamplands from the federal government to the states along the lower Mississippi River; the Arkansas Act of 1850 1 1 Quotation in W. R. Derrick Sewell, Water Management and Floods in the Fraser River Basin, Department of Geography, Research Paper No. 100 (Chicago: The University of Chicago, 1965), 49. 12 Sewell, Water Management, 37-59; Ellis Ladner, Above the Sand Heads: A Vivid Account of Life on the Delta of the Fraser River, 1868-1900 (Cloverdale, B.C.: D. W. Friesen & Sons Ltd., 1979), 37-38; Slaymaker et al., "The Primordial Environment," 37-38; T. R. Oke, M . North, O. Slaymaker, and D. G. Steyn, "Primordial to Prim Order: a Century of Environmental Change," in Vancouver and Its Region, eds. Graeme Wynn and Timothy Oke, (Vancouver: U B C Press, 1992), 153-54; Wendy J. Hales, "The Impact of Human Activity on Deltaic Sedimentation, Marshes of the Fraser River Deltat, British Columbia" (Ph.D. diss., University of British Columbia, 2000), 20-23, 42-46. Salt marshes continue to form on the leading edge of the Fraser River Delta, which compensates somewhat for the marshes lost to diking and drainage. Information about the effect of riprap on wetland formation obtained from Wendy Hales, personal communication, 18 February 2003 and Darren Ham, personal communication, 19 February 2003. The original dikes did not have riprap to protect them. It was installed later, though the exact timing is unclear. 59 extended this arrangement to other states, including California (Oregon was added in an amendment to the act ten years later). The federal government expected the states to use money from selling these lands to fund wetland drainage. After the states drained wetlands, they could also sell the reclaimed land to fund additional wetland drainage. In practice, most states lacked the funds or expertise to undertake the formidable task of draining large wetland areas. Speculators and large landowners often purchased much of the swampland, though even these groups often lacked the means to drain the land. While these Swamp Land Acts led to very little immediate drainage, they did show that 13 state and federal governments sought to eliminate wetlands whenever possible. The danger of flooding, however, made it difficult for those who acquired land under the Swamp Land Act in the Sacramento Valley to reclaim it. The Sacramento River, which flows through the valley, carries snowmelt from the Sierra Nevada and Cascade Mountains each year. In the mid-nineteenth century, the river regularly flooded areas along the southern portion of the Sacramento Valley, inundating the newly established state capital.1 4 These floods also nourished wetlands within the flood plain used by wintering migratory waterfowl. Although plans to dike the river were proposed as early as the 1850s, a concerted state-directed effort at river management would not come until the twentieth century. Before that time, early efforts at managing the river consisted of individual farmers or towns building dikes to protect their property -13 Vileisis, Discovering the Unknown Landscape, 72-73, 76-78; Horace Hibbard, A History of the Public Land Policies (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1924; reprint, Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1965), 269-88. 1 4 Major floods affected the Sacramento repeatedly from the 1850s to the 1880s (1853, 1867-68, 1871-72, 1873, 1875, and 1881). Robert Kelley, Battling the Inland Sea: American Political Culture, Public Policy, and the Sacramento Valley, 1850-1986 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989), 16, 83, 118-19, 160-61, 168-70, 217. 60 similar to what occurred in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. This often came at the expense of other people along the river who had smaller dikes or built them haphazardly since torrents of water flowing down the Sacramento River often destroyed them. Even though farmers and speculators had used the Swamp Land Act of 1861 to purchase most of the wetlands in the Sacramento Valley, it was difficult to use these lands fully until the river was controlled. Thus, the wetlands gained a temporary reprieve from growers who wanted to convert them into agricultural land. 1 5 While the laissez-faire approach to managing the Sacramento River predominated through the remainder of the nineteenth century, the California state legislature was more amenable to centralized planning after the turn of the century. Legislators could see the success that some of the larger landowners in the valley in diking and protecting their lands from floods. In 1911, the state created a Reclamation Board to oversee dikes and other flood control structures in the Sacramento Valley. With the assistance of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the state constructed the large dikes and bypasses necessary to control flooding on the Sacramento River. The Sacramento Flood Control Project took decades to finish, but the completion of each dike or levee eliminated more wetlands. The project made large floods less common, and the completion in the 1940s of the Shasta Dam (part of the Central Valley Project) near the headwaters of the Sacramento River virtually eliminated the threat of flooding altogether. The annual flooding of the Sacramento River had sustained many of the freshwater marshes; now enormous levees and bypasses confined the flow. This 1 5 Kelley, Battling the Inland Sea, 45-154; Ann Vileisis, Discovering the Unknown Landscape, 128-131; Norris Hundley Jr., The Great Thirst: Californians and Water: a History, rev. ed. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001), 79-84 61 allowed landowners to drain and farm land that once remained uncultivated due to flooding. By 1918, landowners had reclaimed over 400,000 acres of land in the Sacramento Valley. With the flooding threat reduced, railway lines proliferated to service the more intensive farming that developed in the valley. 1 6 Although the Sacramento and Fraser rivers were in different countries, diking the lower reaches of these major rivers occurred for the same reasons and had similar consequences for nearby wetlands. The diking of both rivers was part of flood control programs carried out by the state. In British Columbia, this was a provincially directed effort; in California, the state and federal governments carried it out. Wetlands were integral parts of fluvial systems, and the construction of dikes and levees severed this connection. With the serious threat of flooding ended, farmers willingly reclaimed marshes protected by dikes. In the wake of dike construction, people built more permanent structures - railroads, homes, and towns - that either eliminated more wetlands or made it impossible to restore them. In both California and British Columbia, the complete diking along flood-prone sections of the river occurred when the state interceded, though in the case of the Sacramento River the U.S. federal government played a more instrumental role than did the Canadian federal government along the Fraser in British Columbia. 1 7 Kelley, Battling the Inland Sea, 249-302 and Hundley, The Great Thirst, 237-40. 1 7 Since natural resources are a provincial responsibility in Canada, the Canadian federal government had less jurisdiction over flood control matters than the U.S. federal government did over such matters in the U.S. 62 In the San Joaquin Valley and Tulare Basin to the south, reclamation for agriculture rather than flood control destroyed most of the wetlands.18 As they had to the north, farmers and speculators used the Swamp Land Acts to purchase most of the wetlands in the valley. The Miller & Lux Corporation owned the largest tracts of land; the company controlled a staggering 420,888 acres, mostly in the San Joaquin Valley. Unlike most other landowners with large tracts, Miller & Lux did not intend to sell off the land to others. Rather, the company constructed dikes to reclaim marshes and developed an elaborate network of canals to irrigate its land. 1 9 The development of water control structures also affected Tulare Lake, the largest freshwater lake in the western United States. The lake covered over 700 square miles and supported a productive fishery and thousands of ducks and geese during the winter. Diversions of water for irrigation from the Kings, Kaweah, and Tule Rivers caused the lake to contract. Eventually, the remaining lake became so saline that by the end of the nineteenth century few species could survive in it. One visitor to the basin at that time said that the lake "is devoid of a single element of beauty and its uses are few.. .It is a great, unsightly mud-hole."20 After that time, most of the lake evaporated and what The San Joaquin is the southern portion of the Central Valley. Although the Central Valley is the collective name for the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valley, the two sub-valleys have important climatological and hydrological differences. The San Joaquin Valley is drier than the Sacramento Valley (the former receiving less than 10 inches precipitation annually, the latter between 10 and 20 inches), and the San Joaquin River is much smaller in terms of discharge than the Sacramento River. 1 9 The Miller & Lux properties in the San Joaquin Valley were extensive but not contiguous. The company also owned land in the Nevada and Oregon (which is also included in the acreage total cited above), though most of its holdings were in California. See David Igler, Industrial Cowboys: Miller & Lux and the Transformation of the Far West, 1850-1920 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001), 6. 2 0 Cited in William L. Preston, Vanishing Landscape: Land and Life in the Tulare Lake Basin (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981), 158. 63 remained became a sump for agricultural wastewater. With the disappearance of Tulare Lake went one of the most important wintering areas for migratory waterfowl along the Pacific Flyway. 2 1 East of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, extensive marshes were less common, but two areas - Mono Lake and Owens Lake - were of particular value for migratory waterfowl. Marshes rimmed the margins of both lakes and along the rivers that emptied into them. Although the Owens Valley Paiute had practiced small-scale irrigation, large-scale water development only occurred in this area after the arrival of non-Native settlers. As their counterparts had done upstream of Tulare Lake, farmers in the Owens Valley reduced the size and depth of Owens Lake by diverting river water for irrigation. By 1890, the shoreline of Owens Lake had receded nearly a mile and the lake level had dropped by fifteen feet. Irrigation took a toll on Owens Lake, but municipal water diversions ultimately led to its destruction. In one of the most famous episodes in the history of western water, the city of Los Angles bought most of the water rights to the Owens River. In 1914, the city diverted much of the river's flow into an aqueduct from Owens Valley to the Los Angeles Basin. In little over a decade, what remained of Owens Lake evaporated into the high desert air. 2 2 2 1 Ibid., 136-44, 158-61 and Igler, Industrial Cowboys^ 112-13, 115, 117 22 Robert A. Sauder, The Lost Frontier: Water Diversions in the Growth and Destruction of Owens Valley Agriculture (Tucson: The University of Arizona Press, 1994), 96-97, 164; White, 'It's Your Misfortune and None of My Own', 423-425; Hundley, The Great Thirst, 141-67, 353-59; David E. Babb, "History of Early Water Diversions and their Impact of Owens Lake," 263-67 and Peter Vorster, "The Development and Decline of Agriculture in the Owens Valley," in The History of Water: Eastern Sierra Nevada, Owens Valley, White-Inyo Mountains, ed. C. A . Hall, Jr., V . Doyle-Jones and B. Widawski, White Mountain Research Station Symposium Volume 4, 269-84, (Los Angeles: White Mountain Research Station, 1992). Dust storms became more severe decades later when the Los Angeles Department of Water 64 Elsewhere in California, the elimination of marshes was a more incremental process. Before the influx of settlers after the Gold Rush of 1849, San Francisco Bay and the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta were a maze of tidal marshes, ponds, and tidal flats. San Francisco Bay was the location of the most extensive salt-water marshes and the most important estuary in California. Beginning in the mid-nineteenth century, farmers diked land to create pastures for livestock and companies built ponds on the former marshes for salt production. Other parts of the bay were filled-in to make space for urban and industrial development. Collectively, these actions eliminated nearly 80 percent of the tidal marshes in the Bay Area. Some of the largest wetlands in the Bay Area, such as Suisun Marsh in the east bay, were almost completely destroyed. Of the 68,000 acres of marsh early in the nineteenth century, only 6,800 remained in the 1930s. The remaining wetlands comprised a discontinuous patchwork. Although some new wetlands formed on sediments deposited by the Sacramento River, they were not nearly enough to compensate for the thousands of acres of wetlands lost due to diking, draining, and filling. 2 3 While irrigation projects eliminated most of the wetlands and many of the freshwater lakes in California, they occasionally created habitat for migratory birds. The most important and unusual case was the creation of the Salton Sea in 1905. The sea and Power began pumping groundwater out of Owens Valley leading to the destruction of riparian areas along the lower reaches of the Owens River. 2 3 San Francisco Bay Area Wetlands Ecosystem Goals Project, "Baylands Ecosystem Habitat Goals: A Report of Habitat Recommendations Prepared by the San Francisco Bay Area Wetlands Ecosystem Goals Project," U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, San Francisco, California/ San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board, Oakland, California (San Francisco: 1999), 21-27 and California Department of Water Resources, "Suisin Marsh Facts," Suisin Marsh Program, <>. 65 formed in the Salton Sink, one of the lowest places in North America (a distinction it held with Death Valley to the north). Located near the California-Mexico border, the sink had been filled repeatedly in the distant past by the nearby Colorado River as it meandered to the Gulf of California. At the time American settlers came to the basin, the Salton Sink was a dry, blistering-hot playa. Beginning in 1901, the Colorado Development Company diverted water from the Colorado River into the basin, which George Chaffey, one of the founders of the company, had renamed the Imperial Valley. It was a stunning success. Within a few years, 7,000 people had moved to the valley and were using water supplied by the company to develop farms. However, in 1905, high flows on the Colorado River broke the diversion dam and sent the entire flow into the basin where it continued to flow for nearly two years. The Colorado Development Company enlisted the help of the Southern Pacific Railway to plug the gap. By the time they had stopped the flow, the dry basin had become an enormous lake fifty miles long and up to fifteen miles wide, making it easily the largest lake in California. The Salton Sink had become the Salton Sea. 2 4 An accident created the Salton Sea, but irrigation sustained it. In the decades following the flood, the Imperial Irrigation District (formed after the demise of the Colorado Development Company) brought most of the land bordering the northern and southern parts of the lake into agricultural production. The warm climate and the steady supply of water from the Colorado River made it possible to grow crops year round. William deBuys provides the best account of the creation of the Salton Sea. See William deBuys and Joan Meyers, Salt Dreams: Land and Water in Low-Down California (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1999), 77-82, 90-95, 98-121. See also Worster, Rivers of Empire, 194-97 and Hundley, The Great Thirst, 207-08. 66 Since the basin lacked a natural outlet, the wastewater from irrigating the surrounding fields drained into the Sal ton Sea, turning it into the largest sump in the western United States. Water diversions along the Colorado River eventually led to the drying up of the river's delta in Mexico. With the destruction of the Colorado River delta, Pacific Flyway birds lost yet another key wintering area along their migratory route. Before this occurred, birds were already using the Salton Sea. The water development blunder that created the sea, and the irrigation water that supported it, came with a price. The evaporation of the lake left behind tons of salt. Over the decades, the salinity increased, making the sea unfit for many species. In the meantime, the sea became a haven for migratory birds. Imperfect Sanctuaries - the Klamath Basin Refuges Few people protested the transformations of wetlands during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The famous battles over water rights between Lux and Haggin and the City of Los Angeles and the residents of Owens Valley were disputes over the power to develop water, rather than disputes over its use. Despite their differences, the various groups that battled over water during these years shared a belief in the need for reclamation. Some like John Muir and supporters of the Sierra Club, fought water development projects like the one to dam Hetch Hetchy in the 1910s, but they were in a small minority. Few people thought that water should remain unused, particularly for the benefit of non-commercial species like migratory birds. On Lux v. Haggin, see Igler, Industrial Cowboys, 92-121. On the controversies surrounding the diversion of water to Los Angeles and the darning of Hetch Hetchy, see Richard White, "It's Your Misfortune and None of My Own": A New 67 The main exceptions were in the Klamath Basin on the Oregon-California border and the Malheur Basin in eastern Oregon. In these places, sport hunters and bird protectionists waged a mostly losing battle to preserve freshwater marshes that covered both basins. The wetlands and avian splendor of the basins entered the national consciousness during the first decade of the century just as efforts to reclaim the basins for irrigated agriculture got under way. The Klamath Basin, in particular, became a place for the federal government to undertake two experiments simultaneously: creating large refuges for migratory birds and reclaiming arid lands. At first glance, the Klamath Basin seems an unlikely place to undertake major programs in either migratory bird protection or federally sponsored reclamation. The basin is over four hundred miles from San Francisco and Portland, Oregon - the two largest cities in the region - and east of the Cascade Mountains. Not only was it far removed from these centers of power, it had limited agricultural promise. Unlike the Central Valley to the south where a productive and diversified agriculture had developed by the turn of the century, the economy of the Klamath Basin was limited mostly to ranching and a little farming. A railroad was not completed in the basin until 1909; until then, outsiders could only reach it by horse or wagon. Small irrigation companies had managed to deliver water to about 10,000 acres of land where ranchers grew hay and alfalfa for livestock. At an elevation of 4,000 feet and with a short growing season, the Klamath Basin seemed unlikely to support the lucrative and History of the American West (Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1991), 412-13, 423-24 and Alfred Runte, National Parks: The American Experience, 3 ed. (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1997), 78-81, 89-91. 68 increasingly diversified agriculture found in the Central Valley, or, later, in the Imperial Valley. 2 6 Like parts of the Central Valley to the south, most of the wetlands in the basin had passed into the hands of the states of Oregon and California as part of the Swamp Land Act. The states were expected to undertake measures to drain the marshes and convert the lakebed into agriculture, or to sell them to private companies that would do so. Like many states awarded wetlands under the act, Oregon and California failed to convert any of the marsh into farmland. This failure is not surprising; formidable engineering challenges faced anyone hoping to convert this basin's marshes into an irrigated landscape. Unlike other reclamation projects in the West, reclaiming the Klamath Basin would require more than simply diverting water to dry land. In this instance, engineers needed to formulate ways to dewater the shallow lakes and marshes as well as build storage facilities to capture melting snow pack and construct T O canals and pumps to deliver water. Given the region's distance from markets and its modest agriculture potential, the two states had made little effort to reclaim the basin. Passage of the Reclamation Act in 1902 improved prospects for irrigating more of the Klamath Basin. In passing the act, Congress acknowledged that small, private Stanton B. Turner, "Reclamation - a New Look for the Tule Lake and Klamath Lake Basins," Journal of the Shaw Historical Library 2, no. 2 (1988): 25-26 and William Robbins, Landscapes of Promise: The Oregon Story, 1800-1940 (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1997), 250-51. 2 7 'Dewater' is awkward, but there is not a good substitute for the word. Irrigators and the Reclamation Service rarely drained western marshes. Rather, they dammed or diverted water that fed shallow lakes like Lower Klamath or Tule. In the hot, dry climate, the water evaporated - as was the case for Tulare and Owens Lakes in southern California. 2 8 Melting snow pack from the Cascade Mountains was the source of water for most of the lakes in the basin. The exception to this was Tule Lake, which received water from Clear Lake via the Lost River. 69 ventures like the ones in the Klamath Basin could not undertake the projects needed to reclaim large expanses of western land. Only the federal government, with its engineering expertise and funds could accomplish such programs. Thus, it fell to the federal government to continue the spread of the agricultural frontier that had stalled by the end of the nineteenth century. A newly created agency, the Reclamation Service, was charged with implementing the act. Using federal funds, the agency would build the irrigation structures necessary to supply homesteads with water on the public domain. The Reclamation Act stipulated that federal irrigation projects could only supply water to farms of 160 acres or less. Like farmers applying for land under the Homestead Act of 1862, the farmers homesteading on federal irrigation projects would have five years to build homes and cultivate the soil in order to gain title to the land. They would also pay the federal government a modest fee for the water in order to pay back the costs of the irrigation project.29 Between 1902 and 1905, the Reclamation Service surveyed the basin to determine whether it was a suitable site for an irrigation project (Figure 2.1). Surveyors concluded that the basin could be reclaimed, but that doing so would require a multi-pronged approach that involved the forced evaporation of Lower Klamath Lake and Tule Lake, building dams to increase the storage capacity of Upper Klamath Lake and Clear Lake, and constructing primary canals and ditches to supply water to individual 2 9 Donald Worster, Rivers of Empire: Water, Aridity, and the Growth of the American West (New York: Pantheon Books, 1985), 130-31, 160-170; Marc Reisner, Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water (New York: Penguin Books, 1986), 115-120; and Carl Abbott, "The Federal Presence," in The Oxford History of the American West, ed. Clyde A. Milner II, Carol A. O'Connor and Martha A. Sandweiss (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994), 471; Donald J. Pisani, Water and American Government: The Reclamation Bureau, National Water Policy, and the West, 1902-1935 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002), 1. 70 homesteads. Dewatering Lower Klamath Lake and Tule Lake was a challenge since neither lake had a natural surface outlet. Water flowed into Tule Lake via Lost River, the source of which was Clear Lake to the east.30 Lower Klamath Lake received its water from the Klamath Straits, a short channel connecting the lake and the Klamath River. During the spring freshets, river water flowed into the lake. Once the river level subsided, water drained out of the lake and into the Klamath River. To reclaim the lakes for agriculture, the Reclamation Service would block the natural flow of water into these shallow lakes and marshes, then let them slowly evaporate.31 Considering the hydrological challenges involved in reclaiming the Klamath Basin, it might have seemed wiser to choose other areas in Oregon and California for an irrigation project. The Reclamation Service chose the Klamath Basin less for its agricultural potential than for the fact that there were fewer private irrigation companies with which to contend. In the Central Valley irrigation companies were supplying water to farms in the late nineteenth century. In order to build larger irrigation projects there, the Reclamation Service would have to purchase the water rights to the entire area, often at exorbitant prices. Moreover, many of the farms in the Central Valley were over 160 acres, so technically it was illegal to service them with water. The Klamath Basin was attractive because irrigators had only supplied water to a small amount of land and because most of the area was owned by the states of Oregon and California. The states 3 0 Even though Tule Lake had no surface outlet, some engineers and hydrologists suspected that water drained through permeable vesicular basalt at the southern end of the lake in what is now Lava Beds National Monument. See Turner, "Reclamation," 30. 3 1 Turner, "Reclamation," 30, 32 and U.S. Reclamation Service, "History of the Klamath Project, Oregon-California (from May 1, 1903 to December 31, 1912)," report on file in the Bureau of Reclamation, Klamath Irrigation Project Headquarters, Klamath Falls, Oregon (1912). 71 could transfer the land (primarily Lower Klamath Lake and Tule Lake) back to the federal government. Engineers were confident that they could dewater the marshes and build the water structures necessary to covert the area into an irrigated landscape. The Reclamation Service settled with the few irrigation companies in the basin and gained approval for the project in the spring of 1905.32 While the Reclamation Service finalized agreements that paved the way for an irrigation project in the Klamath Basin, two young wildlife photographers made their way to the basin from Portland. William L. Finley and Herman T. Bohlman visited Lower Klamath Lake and Tule Lake in the early summer of 1905 to photograph the birds and other wildlife (Figure 2.2). Finley was president of the recently created Oregon chapter of the National Association of Audubon societies (NAAS). The two photographers went at the urging of William Dutcher, a treasurer for the American Ornithologists' Union and an instrumental figure in the consolidation of state Audubon Societies into the N A A S . Reports had reached Dutcher and other eastern bird protectionists of market hunters slaughtering birds in the marshes of southern and eastern Oregon as part of the trade in bird plumes. By photographing birds in the area, Donald J. Pisani, From Family Farm to Agribusiness: The Irrigation Crusade in California and the West, 1850-1931 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984), 320-24 and Turner, "Reclamation," 28-29. The Reclamation Service also considered constructing an irrigation project in the Malheur Basin, which contained Malheur Lake, another important wetland area for migratory birds. It abandoned its plan due to contested water rights on the rivers that fed the lake and soil surveys that suggested that the lake would be unfit for agriculture. See Nancy Langston, Where Land and Water Meet: A Western Landscape Transformed (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2003), 58-60, 71-72. 72 Dutcher, Finley, and Bohlman hoped to show the abundant bird life in the region to eastern audiences and to build support for establishing parts federal bird reservations.33 Bird protection championed by organizations like the N A A S had been common in the eastern United States for over two decades. George Bird Grinell founded the first Audubon Society chapter in 1885 to stop the killing of birds for ornaments on women's hats and to stop the hunting of song birds. Despite the initial enthusiasm by some for the project and the enlisting of over 20,000 members, support for the organization quickly fizzled and Grinell abandoned the Audubon Society the following year. A decade later Dutcher and others interested in bird issues started forming state Audubon Society chapters in the northeastern United States. The society tapped into the back-to-nature movement and gave a voice to those worried about the destruction of bird life. The N A A S started purchasing small plots of important breeding areas for birds along the East and Gulf coasts and employing wardens to patrol them. Until 1905, the young organization had not had much influence in the western United States. The reconnaissance expedition by Finley and Bohlman was the first cautious extension of the eastern-based bird protection effort into the Far West. 3 4 Finley and Bohlman spent nearly a month in the Klamath Basin taking photographs of pelicans, cormorants, gulls, terns, and other birds. In their photographs and in the articles Finley wrote for National Geographic and The Atlantic Monthly, they Mark V. Barrow Jr., A Passion for Birds: American Ornithology after Audubon (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1998), 133-34 and Frank Graham Jr., The Audubon Ark: A History of the National Audubon Society (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1990), 19-22. 3 4 Barrow, 117-20, 126-34 and Graham, Jr., 28-33. 73 depicted the marshes as natural wonderlands teeming with life (Figure 2.3). Finley seemed overwhelmed by what he saw: Here lay the land of my dreams. After nearly 20 years of waiting, I was looking over this place of mystery that lay far beyond the northern rim of my home hills. From the distance, where I stood the marsh was a level sea of green. As I discovered afterward, it was absolutely deceptive to its real character. The unmeasured stretch of these tules is the same as when Lewis and Clark blazed a trail into the Oregon forest.. .The lure of the tule marsh was its wildness. It is the ancestral nesting place of many species of wild fowl. 3 5 On the same trip, the two men traveled to the Malheur Basin in eastern Oregon and also marveled at the vast marshes there. Finley wrote of both places as though they were Eden before the fall. For the readers of his articles and viewers of their photographs, Finley and Bohlman seemed like wide-eyed children on an adventure in the wilds of the American West. While wildlife dominated the photographs taken by Finley and Bohlman, the two men neither erased themselves from their images nor from the narrative Finley wrote. To help viewers feel an attachment to the birds they photographed, Finley and Bohlman placed themselves in the images. In one photograph, Finley kneels with an immense camera taking a photograph of a flock of white pelicans only a few feet away. In another, Finley and Bohlman sit on the rocky shore of Tule Lake taking field notes and examining cormorant eggs (Figure 2.2. See also 2.3 and 2.4). Finley's efforts to put himself in the action with animals became a hallmark in the photographs and motion pictures he would later produce. In this way, Finley photographs and films had more in William L. Finley, "In Search of the Plume Hunters," Atlantic Monthly, September 1910, 374-75. Quotation in Betty Lou Byrne-Shirley, "The Refuges," The Journal of the Modoc County Historical Society, no. 18 (1996): 31-32. 3 6 For a discussion of Finley and Bohlman's trip to Malheur Lake, see Nancy Langston, Where Land and Water Meet: A Western Landscape Transformed (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2003), 63-64. 74 common with the wildlife adventure stories shown on Walt Disney television specials or Wild Kingdom than with the artistic nature photographs of Ansel Adams or Eliot Porter.37 Throughout his career, Finley depicted nature as a place for adventure filled with inquisitive, playful animals. During their time in the Klamath and Malheur Basins in 1905 (and later when Finley returned on his own) they emphasize the adventurous aspects of their journey. The dozens of photographs from the trip show Finley and Bohlman making camp, moving equipment by wagon, and piloting their boat through the maze of tules on each lake. Although they do show some of the challenges they faced as well as the more unsavory aspects of the wetlands (such as the swarms of insects), for the most part, the two men portray the Oregon marshes as spaces for playful recreation. Urban middle class audiences in Portland as well as the eastern United States could easily imagine themselves touring with Finley and Bohlman in these natural wonderlands.38 On Finley's approach to filming nature and his contributions to wildlife film making, see Greg Mitman, Reel Nature: America's Romance with Wildlife on Film (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1999), 96-99. Ansel Adams is undoubtedly the most famous American photographer of nature in the twentieth century. Jonathan Spaulding examines Adams' immense influence on nature photography and his role in modern environmentalism, in Ansel Adams and the American Landscape: A Biography (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995). 3 8 Photographs from Finley and Bohlman's trips are located in the William L. Finley Collection, Oregon Historical Society archives, Portland, Oregon. See also Worth Mathewson, William L. Finley: Pioneer Wildlife Photographer (Corvallis: Oregon State University Press, 1986). For accounts of this journey and others to the Oregon lakes, see Finley, "In Search of the Plume Hunters," 374-75; "Cruising the Klamath." Bird Lore, Nov.-Dec. 1915, 485-91; "Hunting Birds with a Camera: A Record of Twenty Years of Adventure in Obtaining Photographs of Feathered Wild Life in America," National Geographic 1923, 160-201. Richard White discusses the connection between work and play in nature in '"Are You an Environmentalist or Do You Work for a Living?': Work and Nature," in Uncommon Ground: Toward 75 The photographs and reports sent back to N A A S President Dutcher clearly had their intended effect. Following lobbying by bird protectionists and sportsmen across the nation, President Theodore Roosevelt established the Klamath Lake and Malheur Lake Bird reservations in 1908.39 Roosevelt had already demonstrated his commitment to bird protection by creating the first wildlife refuge for birds at Pelican Island, Florida in 1903, and would set aside over fifty areas during his presidency. While the Klamath and Malheur Reservations joined a growing number of federal and private refuges owned by state Audubon societies, none of the other sanctuaries approached the scale of these Oregon refuges. Most of the refuges in the eastern United States were a few hundred acres at most; the Oregon refuges encompassed thousands of acres of marshes and open water, and wetlands of a different sort than in the east. Like the eastern refuges, however, the Oregon areas were set aside to prevent the destruction of plume-bearing birds and to offer protection from the overhunting of migratory waterfowl by market hunters. Establishing the Klamath Lake Reservation was a relatively easy matter. Lower Klamath Lake had passed back into federal control when Oregon and California transferred ownership to the Reclamation Service in 1905 as part of the Reinventing Nature, ed. William Cronon (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1995), 171-85. 39 I could find no record of a meeting between Dutcher and Roosevelt to discuss these areas or evidence that Roosevelt saw photographs of the Lower Klamath or Malheur Lakes. However, Roosevelt's support of bird protection and sport hunting is well-known, and he maintained a correspondence with some of the leading ornithologists and advocates for bird protection in the nation. See Graham, Jr., The Audubon Ark, 42. 76 agency's plan to construct the Klamath Project. Roosevelt simply carved out a bird reservation within this newly acquired federal domain.4 0 Finley, the N A A S , and sport hunters considered the establishment of the two bird sanctuaries to be a major victory. Finley saw the protection of the refuges as the culmination of a struggle against ruthless plume and market hunters who had ransacked the most magnificent areas for birds in the entire United States. Soon after his journey to the eastern Oregon marshes with Bohlman, Finley became the N A A S ' s field agent for the Pacific Coast states. His annual reports to the society published in Bird Lore, the organization's magazine, showed his unbridled optimism and his zeal for bird protection. He helped assign wardens to guard the reservations from hunters and pushed for the strengthening of bird protection laws in Oregon, and to a lesser degree, California. With the federal protection of such outstanding bird areas as Lower Klamath Lake and Malheur Lake, nothing, it seemed could stop the crusade to protect migratory birds.41 A close examination of the executive order establishing the Klamath Lake Reservation reveals that there was ample cause for concern. Lower Klamath Lake was the only lake in the region given protection; other lakes and marshes in the area used by migratory birds such as Upper Klamath Lake, Clear Lake, and Tule Lake were unprotected. While the order prohibited the destruction of bird's nests and eggs and the killing of any birds within the reservation's borders, it did not ensure a water supply. 4 0 Graham Jr., Audubon Ark; Ira N . Gabrielson, Wildlife Refuges (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1943), 8-13; and Albert M . Day, North American Waterfowl (New York: Stackpole and Heck, Inc., 1949), 148-49. 4 1 Reports from Finley were published annually in the November-December issue of Bird Lore. For Finley's views and his summaries of the bird protection efforts in the region, see his reports in volumes 13-18 (1911-1916). 77 The order explicitly stated that the management of the reservation was not to "interfere with the use of any part of the reserved area by the Reclamation Service.. . " 4 2 In drawing the boundaries of the reservation, the creators of the order intended to include marsh areas that were expected to be unfit for agriculture. The Reclamation Service made it very clear, as early as 1905, that it intended to dewater most of Lower Klamath Lake and Tule Lake. As far as the agency was concerned, the Klamath Lake Bird Reservation was superimposed on the Klamath Project and the needs of the project came before the needs of the refuge. The refuge provided a temporary reprieve from the hunters, but the Reclamation Service would soon eliminate this avian wonderland altogether. Roosevelt did not place the refuges under the care of a competent federal agency either. Roosevelt and the U.S. Congress did not create a new agency to oversee these refuges, but rather passed them into the hands of the Bureau of Biological Survey, a small agency in the Department of Agriculture. The agency had been created in 1885 to determine the distribution of birds in the United States and to investigate the role of birds in controlling insect pests. It neither had a law enforcement role before it was placed in charge of the refuges, nor were extra funds allocated to pay such personnel if it did. The result was that the Biological Survey lacked the capacity to staff the refuges much less to resist the actions of other federal agencies that would damage the 43 sanctuaries. Theodore Roosevelt, Executive Order, No. 924, (8 August 1908), Refuge Files, KBNWR-HQ. 4 3 The Bureau of Biological Survey (or the Fish and Wildlife Service) has received little attention from scholars. Information about the agency can be found in Jenks Cameron, The Bureau of Biological Survey: Its History, Activities and Without federal money or personnel to manage the refuges, patrolling the Klamath Lake Reservation fell to a warden employed by the N A A S . As field agent for the West Coast states, Finley appointed a warden on behalf of the N A A S , a fitting task since he played so prominent a role in creating the sanctuary. He chose L . Alva Lewis, a former jeweler in Klamath Falls who was looking for a new line of work. Lewis' task was to patrol the reservation in The Grebe, a small motorboat bought with funds from the N A A S , searching for poachers and taking notes on the wildlife. To give him some authority, he was also commissioned as a state warden for Oregon and California, which allowed him to fine and arrest people breaking game laws in the two states. His authority as a federal warden on the reservation was unclear. Who could he arrest? How was he to patrol such an enormous reservation? For the next few years, Lewis was the extent of federal wildlife protection efforts in the Klamath Basin. His reports provide a rare glimpse into the reservation after its founding and before its eventual destruction. The lack of support from the Biological Survey and the many problems Lewis encountered are some measure of the federal government's timid role in managing the Organization (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1929); Donald Worster, Nature's Economy: A History of Ecological Ideas, 2nd ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 262-65; Matthew D. Evenden, "The Laborers of Nature: Economic Ornithology and the Role of Birds as Agents of Biological Pest Control in North American Agriculture, Ca. 1880-1930," Forest & Conservation History 39 (October 1995): 172-83; and Barrow, A Passion for Birds, 59-61, 171-72. Like many federal conservation agencies, this agency changed its names many times. The agency became a bureau in 1905 and continued to be called the Bureau of Biological Survey until merging with the Bureau of Fisheries to become the Fish and Wildlife Service in 1940. The full administrative history of the agency can be found on the National Archives and Records Administration, Records of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service web site <http://www. room/federal records guide/fish and wildlife_service_rg022.html#>, 22.1. 79 refuges, and some indication of how the calamity that befell the Klamath Reservation came about.44 The very size of the reservation made it difficult to patrol. By his own admission, Lewis patrolled an area "as large as the state of Rhode Island." 4 5 He kept watch over the five or six channels among the tules on the northern end of the lake. It was unclear to him what he should do if he caught someone poaching. The N A A S and Biological Survey provided no set of regulations to enforce except for the state game laws of Oregon and California. No one had posted the reservation's boundaries, so hunters could always claim that they did not realize Lower Klamath Lake was now a bird sanctuary. Lewis worried that without stronger federal regulations, national efforts to protect birds would fail in the Klamath Basin and elsewhere. In fact, Lewis was surprised that any people refrained from hunting on the reservation at all given the uncertainty about jurisdiction. "People will not always be ruled by bluff alone," Lewis wrote, "especially those who have hunted for market, and are now deprived of a valuable source of income and we should be prepared to meet them with weapons which are at once effective and relentless."46 4 4 William L. Finley to William Dutcher, 18 September 1908, Wildlife Refuge Reference List, Division of Wildlife Refuges, Bureau of Biological Survey Records, R G 22, N A R A - C P . Lewis chose this line of work due to an illness though he never specifies what kind. See L . Alva Lewis to Wm. L. Finley, 5 May 1909 and L . Alva Lewis to T. S. Palmer, 3 April 1910, Wildlife Refuge Reference List, Division of Wildlife Refuges, Bureau of Biological Survey Records, R G 22, N A R A - C P . 4 5 L. Alva Lewis, "Month Ending August 31, 1909," Wildlife Refuge Reference List, Division of Wildlife Refuges, Bureau of Biological Survey Records, R G 22, N A R A - C P . 4 6 L . Alva Lewis, "Month Ending October 31, 1909," Wildlife Refuge Reference List, Division of Wildlife Refuges, Bureau of Biological Survey Records, RG -22 , N A R A - C P . 80 Although market hunters sought birds on the lakes, nearby residents also hunted ducks and other waterfowl, often out of season. Lewis had better luck apprehending local violators hunting out of season than market hunters illegally using the Klamath Lake Reservation. In August of 1909, he arrested four men for hunting waterfowl out of season after chasing them by boat across Tule Lake in the dark. Three of the four were prominent men in the area (one was the mayor of Merrill, a town bordering Tule Lake). 4 7 Lewis' willingness to apprehend such men shows how seriously he took his position. He also came across Native people in the area hunting on Lower Klamath Lake earlier that summer. "Two canoe loads of Indians were on the Lower Lake, out for the purpose of gathering eggs I suppose," Lewis wrote. He ordered them off the reservation, but they refused to comply. "They became quite ugly... They were eight to one and so thought they had the balance of power. As soon as I saw they would not move out peaceably, I backed the launch off and suddenly ran forward and rammed one of the canoes giving it a glancing blow. The canoe turned over tipping the occupants out. I backed off preparatory to giving the other canoe a dose of the same medicine, but they surrendered."48 Given the number of wildlife in the marshes of Lower Klamath Lake and Tule Lake and Lewis' willingness to apprehend violators, it is surprising there were not more of such incidents. The creation of the Klamath Lake Reservation had interfered with 4 / L . Alva Lewis, "Month Ending August 31, 1909," Wildlife Refuge Reference List, Division of Wildlife Refuges, Bureau of Biological Survey Records, R G 22, N A R A - C P . 4 8 L . Alva Lewis to Mr. Finley, 15 May 1909, Wildlife Refuge Reference List, Division of Wildlife Refuges, Bureau of Biological Survey Records, R G 22, N A R A -CP. The Indians Lewis encountered were most likely Klamath or Modoc from the Klamath Reservation north of Klamath Falls. 81 established uses of the marshes. Lewis' encounter with the two groups shows that the lakes were recreational space for local sport hunters as well as a commons for Native people. Although Lewis was hired to stop market hunters, he rarely came across them. The lack of plume hunters and other market hunters on the reservation suggests that there must be other reasons for the decline in illegal hunting activity besides Lewis' vigilance. Granted the reservation was large, but access to the lake was only possible by a few channels through the tules surrounding on the lake's margins, and the repeated shooting of guns by market hunters would have attracted attention. The decline in market hunters most likely reflects the diminishing demand for plumes in the early twentieth century. Bird protectionists had successfully targeted many of the consumers of bird plumes (namely women for fine hats), turning the wearing of bird feathers into a shameful act.49 Lewis' eagerness to arrest hunters on and off the reservation could easily have put his life in jeopardy. Although he escaped from these encounters unscathed, other wardens working for the N A A S were not so lucky. Occasionally poachers and plume hunters killed wardens when they tried to interfere. The most famous killing was of Guy Bradley, a warden working near Ft. Meyers in the Florida Everglades. Ornithologists and other bird enthusiasts had long traveled to the remote parts of the state to see the colonies of waterbirds. Plume hunters also frequented the area, and their presence led early Audubon leaders to assign Bradley to locate and protect the last remaining colonies. Plume hunters considered Bradley a real threat, and in 1905, one of them shot 4 9 Jennifer Price, Flight Maps: Adventures with Nature in Modern America (New York: Basic Books, 1999), 57-109 and Robin W. Doughty, Feather Fashions and Bird Preservation: A Study in Nature Protection (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1975). 82 him. A local grand jury refused to indict the accused killer, and no one was ever convicted for the murder. Among eastern bird protectionists, Bradley became a martyr for the movement; his death testified to the dangers wardens faced. It also demonstrated that wardens often threatened long-established patterns of resource use. Since wardens often worked alone in remote areas confronting other men with guns, Bradley's death was not surprising. Rather, it is surprising that plume hunters and poachers did not kill more of them.5 0 When Lewis was not patrolling the reservation, he was either trying to shoot animals that he believed preyed on waterfowl in the area or assisting other people trying to do so. Lewis was particularly worried about raptors killing the ducks in the marshes, and he regularly shot birds of prey like Cooper's hawks. Like many conservationists of the time, he believed that raptors were vicious killers of birds that needed to be eliminated. In one evening, he killed eight hawks. "As these were off the Reserve, and knowing their character as I do I considered I was doing good work killing them."51 Trappers also captured mink, raccoon, skunks, and weasels. Though the ability of Lewis and a few trappers to affect the population of hawks or mammals was limited, their actions demonstrate a willingness to control many other species in order to protect 52 waterfowl. On the work and death of Guy Bradley, see Graham Jr., The Audubon Ark, 28-43. Louis Warren examines the often violent resistance to the enforcement of game laws in The Hunter's Game: Poachers and Conservationists in Twentieth-Century America (New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 1997), 21-47. 5 1 L . Alva Lewis, " Report of the Warden of the Klamath Lake Reservation for the Month ending May 31, 1910," Reports of the Wardens, 1910, A-173, National Audubon Society Records, New York Public Library, New York, 189. L. Alva Lewis, "Report of the Warden of the Klamath Lake Reservation for the Month Ending April 30, 1910," and "Report of the Warden of the Klamath Lake 83 A more substantial threat to the wildlife reservation came from the Reclamation Service, which still intended to dewater most of the reservation. Lewis informed Finley and the N A A S that this was a possibility as early as 1909 when the Southern Pacific Railroad constructed an embankment across the northwest corner of the reservation. The embankment had a small opening over Klamath Straits that allowed water to pass from the Klamath River into Lower Klamath Lake. For the time being the channel remained open. Lewis saw a calamity in the making if the Reclamation Service decided to close the channel, though at the time, he worried more about how the blockage would interfere with his regular patrols rather than with the affect it might have on the lake. 5 3 The Reclamation Service left the channel open for another seven years as it focused on developing other parts of the Klamath Project. In 1917, however, it closed the straits and, in effect, starved the lake of water (Figure 2.5). Over the next four years, its waters slowly evaporated leaving the vast tule marshes to wither and die. 5 4 Finley and other conservationists were livid. An immense marsh that supported an extraordinary profusion of bird life was turned into a desert waste (Figures 2.6 and 2.7). Once the waters receded and exposed the tules, fires were set to burn off the Reservation for the Month Ending November 30, 1910," Wildlife Refuge Reference List, Division of Wildlife Refuges, Bureau of Biological Survey Records, R G 22, N A R A - C P . 5 3 L . Alva Lewis to William L. Finley, 5 May 1909, Wildlife Refuge Reference List, Division of Wildlife Refuges, Bureau of Biological Survey Records, R G 22, N A R A - C P 5 4 Ann E. Huston, "A History of the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge," in A River Never the Same: A History of Water in the Klamath Basin, edited by the Shaw Historical Library, (Klamath Falls, Oregon: Oregon Institute of Technology, 1999), 61 and Robbins, Landscape of Promise, 252-53. 84 vegetation. Smoke and dust from the dry lakebed clogged the skies over the towns of Merill and Klamath Falls, occasionally closing schools and businesses. Years later when the Biological Survey ornithologist Frederick Lincoln visited the area, the sight of the former reservation disgusted him. "It doesn't even support a good crop of weeds.. .A jack-rabbit would starve on it..." 5 6 What incensed Finley and others even more was that the drainage was done for an agricultural scheme of dubious value. An evaluation by soil scientists in 1909 concluded that most of the soil underlying the lake bed was too alkaline to support most crops. Farmers successfully cultivated some of the land, but most of the soil was as poor as the soil survey said it would be. Many homesteaders 57 never secured title to their land because of repeated crop failures. Executive orders signed by Theodore Roosevelt created the Klamath Lake Reservation. Yet presidents could reduce the size of the reservations, too. A number of executive orders signed by Presidents Woodrow Wilson and Warren Harding between 58 1917 and 1921 eliminated parts of the bird sanctuary to open them for homesteading. Such legal reductions hardly seemed necessary when closing the Klamath Straits had effectively starved the reservation of water. Ultimately, the Klamath Bird Reservation proved not to be an impediment in the Reclamation Service's plans for the Klamath It is unclear whether these fires were purposely set or if they were accidental. Homesteaders or the Reclamation Service may have set the fires to clear the dead vegetation in order to prepare the land for settlement. 5 6 Frederick C. Lincoln, "Western Field Trip, 9/7-10/20/35," Records of the Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife, Records of the Division of Wildlife Research, Office Files of Frederick C. Lincoln, 1917-60, R G 22, N A R A - C P . 5 7 "Agreement Between Reclamation Service and Klamath Drainage District," William WFP, William L. Finley, "Report of William L. Finley, Field Agent for the Pacific Coast States," Bird-Lore, Nov.-Dec. 1919, 412-414 and "Passing of the Marshlands," Nature Magazine, March 1926, 173. 5 8 Executive Orders, No. 2200 (14 May 1915), No. 3187 (2 Dec. 1919), No. 3422 (28 March 1921), KBNWR-HQ. 85 Basin. Other nearby bird refuges could not compensate for the lost marshes. Clear Lake, one of the primary storage facilities for the Klamath Project, was also given refuge status in 1911. However, the Reclamation Service adjusted the level of the lake based on needs of irrigators downstream. The annual fluctuations in lake levels destroyed most of the marshes on the lake, limiting its usefulness for birds. Nor had Clear Lake ever supported more than a small fraction of the birds that used Lower Klamath Lake and Tule Lake. 5 9 It seemed as though the Malheur Lake Bird Reservation, the other federal refuge in Oregon, might meet with a similar fate. Although the Reclamation Service chose not to pursue an irrigation project in the Malheur Valley, it later supported the dewatering of Malheur Lake for agricultural purposes. In 1916, a report created by the Oregon state engineer and a federal reclamation official recommended diverting the Blitzen and Silvies rivers, which flowed into Malheur Lake, for use by irrigators. Five years later the Blitzen River Irrigation District was organized to construct the needed control structures to provide water for farms.60 Finley tried to rally the support of the Oregon state legislature and bird lovers across the country to stop these schemes.61 The State of Oregon laid claim to the lake saying that the state had rights over any navigable body of water - a particularly dubious claim given the shallowness of Malheur Lake. 5 9 Ira N . Gabrielson to E. W. Nelson, Chief Bureau of Biological Survey, November 1922 and Smith Riley to E. W. Nelson, (no date) 1922, Clear Lake, 1922-24, Wildlife Refuges Reference File, Division of Wildlife Refuges, R G 22, N A R A - C P . 6 0 Langston, Where Land and Water Meet, 66-83. 6 1 William L. Finley, "Report of William L. Finley, Field Agent for the Pacific Coast States," Bird-Lore, Nov.-Dec. 1918, 407-408; "Report of William L. Finley, Field Agent for the Pacific Coast States," Bird-Lore, Nov.-Dec. 1919, 412-414; "Report of William L. Finley, Field Agent for the Pacific Coast States." Bird-Lore, Nov.-Dec. 1920, 393; and "Passing of the Marshlands," Nature Magazine, March 1926, 173. 86 Newspapers in Portland claimed that the refuge stood in the way of progress. "The [Portland] Spectator is heartily in favor of bird refuges, but is much more in favor of bringing into cultivation the small fraction of Central Oregon lands that can be cultivated, even if the entire Malheur reservation should thereby be destroyed. Let us not by our votes doom Eastern Oregon to remain a howling wilderness."62 Countering such claims and protecting the few remaining areas for migratory birds from irrigators would require "eternal vigilance" from conservationists.63 The fate of the reservation would remain in limbo until the 1930s when the federal government finally bought out the groups that controlled the water and riparian areas along the rivers that fed the lake. The Bureau of Biological Survey had largely forgotten these sanctuaries in Oregon and California. H . F. Stone, the man in charge of the bureau's refuges, took an inspection trip of the nation's sanctuaries in 1920. He wrote that the refuges received little funding and that the staff was "incompetent." Lower Klamath was merely the most egregious example of the neglect common to all of the nation's federal refuges. On the Malheur Bird Reservation, locals did not take the bureau seriously. "There is already a feeling in Burns that the Bureau is handling this reservation in a weak manner and without any definite policy," Stone wrote. "As a result of this feeling, I am told that the opinion is openly expressed that there would be no danger in local people using the Quotation from Langston, Where Land and Water Meet, 77. William L. Finley, "Report of William L. Finley, Field Agent for the Pacific Coast States," Bird-Lore, Nov.-Dec. 1923, 452. 87 reservation as they see fit." Stone's report showed a refuge system in disrepair and that the bureau had only a tenuous hold on these western sanctuaries.64 While fighting threats to the Malheur Basin marshes, William Finley never gave up trying to restore those of Lower Klamath Lake. It had become obvious, even to the Bureau of Reclamation65, that the irrigation project it planned for the area had largely failed. Few farmers had successfully homesteaded on the lakebed, though some had managed to raise crops on the land that was once covered by tules. Instead of cultivating the lakebed, the Bureau of Reclamation decided to convert it into a sump for wastewater from part of the Klamath Project.66 Finley and others wanted the entire area restored and the channel connecting the Klamath River and the Lower Klamath lakebed reopened. The Bureau of Biological Survey commissioned a report by drainage engineer L . T. Jessup to investigate the feasibility of the sump serving as the new basis for the Klamath Lake Bird Reservation. Jessup concluded that even though the sump would cover part of the former lakebed, without drainage it would quickly become too alkaline to support wildlife. Neither Jessup nor the Reclamation Service considered constructing a drain between the lake and the Klamath River, which is how the Klamath 67 Straits had functioned during times when the river level was low. 0 4 H . F. Stone, "Report of Inspection Trip, 1920,"General Reservations, 1920-1935, Wildlife Refuges Reference File, Division of Wildlife Refuges, Fish and Wildlife Service, R G 22, N A R A - C P . 6 5 The Reclamation Service changed its name to the Bureau of Reclamation in 1923. 6 6 "Lower Klamath Lake, Klamath Project, Oregon." New Reclamation Era, November 1925, 172 and El wood Mead, "Memorandum for the Secretary of the Interior," 30 January 1926, Box 7, WLF. L.T. Jessup, "Report on the Proposed Reflooding of a Portion of Lower Klamath Lake California," Bureau of Biological Survey, October 1927, Box 7, WLF. 88 There were more than technical impediments. Restoring the lake would require significant changes to how irrigators, power companies, and the Bureau of Reclamation divided the basin's water. By the 1920s, users had appropriated all the water in the basin, including water from the Klamath River, the potential source for reflooding Lower Klamath Lake. Even if the technical problems could have been overcome, there was no water available. The Bureau of Reclamation could divert water from the Klamath River for the purposes of irrigation. But due to the legislation that ceded control of Lower Klamath Lake from the States of Oregon and California back to the federal government, it could not be used for other purposes, such as reflooding the lake. In short, the Bureau of Reclamation could dewater the lake but claimed it lacked the authority to restore it. The agency was willing to accept a dry lakebed rather than attempt to restore the lake to any semblance of its earlier condition.6 8 Instead of restoring Lower Klamath Lake, the agencies proposed to enlarge marshes and ponds located on the margins of the Great Salt Lake over four hundred miles to the east in Utah. Private sport hunting groups had already constructed dikes and canals to increase the freshwater marshes along the Bear River, one of the main sources of water for the lake. With more work and federal funds, the Biological Survey hoped to convert this area into the largest wetland for migratory birds in the western United States. How waterfowl that once used the Klamath Basin would know to fly to the Bear River marshes rather than the Klamath Basin was unclear. In fact, later migration studies would reveal that Bear River was a major nesting site for waterfowl that would 6 8 Ibid., 12-15 and "Reflooding of Lower Klamath Lake Held Impracticable," Press Release, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of Information and Press Service, 5 November 1927, Box 7, WFP. 89 then fly to marshes in Oregon and California to winter. Since waterfowl used the Klamath Basin marshes primarily as a stopover point during autumn and spring migrations, merely increasing the marsh area in Utah did little good for the birds that traveled through the West Coast states. Those bird populations required marshes for resting and feeding during their migrations - functions once provided by the wetlands in the Klamath and Malheur Basin. 6 9 Although the Bear River marshes could not serve as a substitute for the lost Klamath Basin wetlands, efforts to protect and enlarge these marshes would have long-range implications for Lower Klamath Lake. Congress established the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge in 1928, and over the next five years, the refuge became a testing ground for restoring wetlands. Diversions upstream for irrigation earlier in the century had led to the drying up of approximately 45,000 acres of marsh that once existed on the Bear River Delta. By the 1920s, only 2,000 to 3,000 acres of marsh remained. Whenever the Great Salt Lake receded, it exposed vast mud flats which proved a fertile environment for the spread of avian diseases such as botulism. Thousands of birds died at a time. To increase the amount of marsh area, refuge managers constructed dikes to enable easier control over water levels. Personnel with the Bureau of Biological Survey would used the technical knowledge they gained on the Bear River Refuge to construct similar water control structures on other refuges 70 throughout the West in the 1930s, including the Klamath Bird Reservation. Copley Amory, "Agriculture and Wild Fowl Conservation at Lower Klamath Lake," New Reclamation Era, May 1926, 80-82. 7 0 Ira N . Gabrielson, Wildlife Refuges (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1943), 15, 17, 151-152 and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, "History - Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge," <>. 90 The same year that congress established the Bear River Bird Reservation, the president established two new refuges, Tule Lake and Upper Klamath Lake, in the Klamath Basin. By this time Tule Lake, which once had covered thousands of acres, was reduced to little more than a shallow pond (Figure 2.8). A diversion dam constructed on the Lost River, the source of water for the lake, had led to the contraction of the lake as the water evaporated. Though homesteads had only begun to establish farms on the former lakebed, the Bureau of Reclamation had allowed farmers to lease land near the edges of the lake for farming or grazing. The Upper Klamath Refuge only included the marshes at the northern end of the lake, and the lake had never been as important for migratory birds as those in Lower Klamath and Tule lakes. Even though there were four wildlife refuges in the Klamath Basin by the 1920s, reclamation had either destroyed or drastically compromised their usefulness for migratory birds.7 1 It was clear to Finley and the leadership of the Bureau of Biological Survey that, without adequate habitat, migratory waterfowl throughout the western United States might perish. Edward Nelson, Chief of the Biological Survey during the early 1920s, criticized the recklessness shown by many drainage schemes. Like Finley, he was reluctant to criticize all drainage of wetlands, but pointed out that what was gained in agriculture often came at a high price for migratory birds and other species of wildlife. The modest growth in migratory waterfowl populations since the passage of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in 1918 had stopped, and Nelson feared that the number of migratory waterfowl would plummet if more were not done to protect and restore wetlands. The existing refuges were quickly reaching capacity. The thousands of birds 7 1 Gabrielson, Wildlife Refuges, 184-85. 91 concentrated on such refuges left them susceptible to starvation, lead poisoning (from spent ammunition), and botulism. The government and private landowners across the country needed to realize that "water and water areas have a community value entirely apart from that of private ownership, and this relationship should be borne in mind when drainage operations are being considered." Without substantial federal intervention, Nelson, Finley, and other bird conservationists feared a catastrophe for the continent's migratory birds.7 2 Livestock grazing also took its toll on the Clear Lake and Tule Lake refuges (Figure 2.9). Citing the fact that these refuges were superimposed on the Klamath Project, the Bureau of Reclamation authorized livestock grazing on both of these refuges during the late 1920s and early 1930s. For many conservationists, allowing livestock to graze on the refuges was a disaster for migratory birds and yet another demonstration of the Bureau of Reclamation's complete disregard for wildlife. Livestock trampled nests and ruined the vegetation birds needed for protection. Both Finley and the federal warden in the area, H . M . Worcester, complained to the Bureau of Reclamation about the problem to no avail. In a detailed response to their protests, the chief commissioner for the agency, Elwood Mead, wrote that ranchers had the right to graze between the maximum level of the lake and the current level. He added that most of this grazing occurred during the winter months, not during the summer when the birds nested. Regardless of the true environmental impact, conservationists Quotation from E.W. Nelson, "Unwise Drainage," Bulletin of the American Game Protective Association 13, no.l (1924): 8-9, 11. See also William L. Finley, "Game Refuges," Nature Magazine, May 1926, 305. 92 considered it absurd that grazing could continue, particularly without consulting the 73 Bureau of Biological Survey, which managed the refuges. Finley argued that the potential environmental cost to migratory bird habitat was severe, but benefit to stockmen was minimal. To provide a paltry amount of forage and to collect a few dollars from livestock owners for the Reclamation Fund, the Bureau of Reclamation allowed the destruction of cover and vegetation in what remained of two of the most important refuges in the United States. In one of many angry letters to Commissioner Mead, Finley argued that "I cannot see why one department of the government concerned with the uses of land and water is so utterly thoughtless of resources in charge of another department.. .The Reclamation Service has gained a few thousand dollars in rentals, but I feel that this does not pay for the damage to bird life. A natural resource belonging to the public has been lost."7 4 Finley also sent complaints to Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes and met with the new head of the Bureau of Biological Survey, Jay 'Ding' Darling. Despite years of protest and the continued erosion of the few sanctuaries established for migratory birds, the Bureau of Biological Survey had virtually no say in the management of these protected areas. They remained 75 hollow sanctuaries. While Finley and the Biological Survey were fighting the Reclamation Service over livestock grazing, they started another movement to reflood Lower Klamath Lake. H . M . Worcester to Chief, Bureau of Biological Survey, 4 August 1934, Box 7, WFP. B.E. Hayden to Commissioner, 9 October 1934; Elwood Mead to William Finley, 22 October 1934; William Finley to Elwood Mead, 27 December 1934, Box 8, WFP. 7 4 William Finley to Elwood Mead, 5 September 1934, Box 7, WFP. 7 5 William Finley to H . M . Worcester, 27 September 1934 and 25 August 1934; H . M . Worcester to Mr. A . Fungate, 21 August 1934, Box 7, WFP. 93 With the onset of the Great Depression, farmers in the Klamath Drainage District had difficulty making their payments to the Bureau of Reclamation. To aid the farmers in the Klamath Basin and on other Bureau of Reclamation projects, the federal government placed a moratorium on all payments beginning in 1930. With the drainage district in poor financial shape, Finley saw this as an excellent opportunity for the federal government to buy out the district using funds acquired from federal hunting permits known as Duck Stamps. As it had many times before, the Bureau of Reclamation provided a list of reasons why the plan was impossible. The federal government would need to purchase land from approximately fifty land owners. Since water to reflood the lake would come from the Klamath River, the federal government would need to compensate the California Oregon Power Company for the loss of river water used to power downstream generators. Even if the water were available, the Bureau of Reclamation argued that it was prohibited from using the water for non-irrigation purposes. Once again, conservationists had offered a creative situation to the restoring Lower Klamath Lake, only to have the Bureau of Reclamation stonewall them.76 Conclusion The hydrologic landscape in the southern portion of the Pacific Flyway was transformed in the early twentieth-century. The Central Valley - a region where over 60 percent of the migratory waterfowl spent the winter months - lost most of its wetlands. 7 6 Elwood Mead to William Finley, 13 April 1934; Finley to Mead, 24 April 1934; Finley to Mead, 2 July 1934; Finely to Mead, 30 July 1934; Finley to Mead, 20 August 1934, Box 7, WFP. The Bureau of Reclamation explains why reflooding Lower Klamath Lake is impossible in M . A. Schnurr to Finley, 9 July 1934, Box 7, WFP. 94 Diking along the Sacramento River and water diversions along the San Joaquin River resulted in the destruction of marshes on the flood plain. Important lakes used by migratory waterfowl, such as Tulare Lake and Owens Lake, vanished altogether. Just beyond the California and Mexico border, the Colorado River delta still supported a network of marshes and lagoons until the 1930s, but after the completion of Boulder (Hoover) Dam in 1936, the Colorado River would cease to reach the delta at all. Without the fortuitous creation of the Salton Sea decades earlier, there would have been no major lakes or marshes left for migratory waterfowl in this portion of the flyway. Though these changes to the waterscape occurred for a variety of local reasons rather than as a result of one centralized program, Pacific Flyway waterfowl experienced it as a collective loss. Since there were no detailed bird surveys conducted at the time, there is no way to estimate the decline in waterfowl population during this period. The elimination of wetland habitat was so widespread and occurred in so many key sites along the migration route, that it is difficult to imagine that the consequences were other than catastrophic. Natural events like drought, which had always affected wetlands along the flyway, could now be disastrous. Formerly, if drought had led to the loss of wetlands in one part of the wintering range, waterfowl could potentially move to other areas where wetlands were still in good condition. Now, however, with the elimination of so many wetlands due to water diversions, diking, and draining, there were fewer and fewer 'safety valves,' for the birds. This posed severe ramifications for the future of migratory waterfowl. The federal government established refuges during this period, but did not protect them. Meanwhile, other arms of the federal government and irrigators 95 systematically altered the hydrology of bird refuges in the Klamath and Malheur Basins. By the early 1930s, most of the wetlands and shallow lakes in these areas were destroyed or severely degraded. Decades of activism on behalf of the birds that used these wetlands had barely slowed the reclamation movement. Although Finley's vision of a bird paradise had captured the imagination of many amateur bird watchers, sport hunters, and ornithologists, it paled in comparison to the reclamation drive. Most Americans still considered wetlands as impediments to progress and supported efforts by the Bureau of Reclamation to drain western marshes. This would change in the 1930s just as the migratory waterfowl populations were at their lowest and many feared for their survival. During later years of that decade, the federal government launched a major program to restore damaged wetlands throughout the nation. Wetlands along the Pacific Flyway would become testing grounds for the use of hydrologic engineering and the techniques of irrigators to construct industrial refuges. Irrigated agriculture -responsible for so much of the wetland loss in the Far West - would serve as a model for wetland restoration. Figure 2.1: Lower Klamath Lake marshes, 1907. Source: Record Group 115 Records of the Bureau of Reclamation, Box 63, #185, National Archives - College Park. 98 Figure 2.3: "Here lay the land of my dreams..." William Finley in the Tule Lake marshes, 1905. Source: Oregon Historical Society, Finley Collection, A-1823. Figure 2.4: Photograph of Caspian terns by William Finley and Herman Bohlman taken during their 1905 expedition to the Klamath Basin. Source: Oregon Historical Society, Finley Collection, A1934. 100 Figure 2.5: Klamath Straits, 1927. The Reclamation Service closed Klamath Straits in 1917 as part of an effort to dewater Lower Klamath Lake. Closing the channel eliminated the lake's main source of water. By the early 1920s, most of Lower Klamath Lake had evaporated. Source: Record Group 22: Records of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Box 27, B-32031, National Archives - College Park. 101 Figure 2.6: Lower Klamath Lakebed, 1929. Images like these along with the written accounts of the 'dewatering' of Lower Klamath Lake were used by conservationists such as William Finley to encourage the federal government to reflood the lakebed. Source: Record Group, Box 27, B-35777, National Archives - College Park. 102 103 fTJ J fp 1 7-^4 '"ita- 11 • L „_ Figure 2.8: The Lower Klamath Lakebed, 1929. By this time, the closing of Klamath Straits had led to the destruction of Lower Klamath Lake and water diversions along the Lost River resulted in the shrinking of Lower Klamath Lake. In the mid-1920s, the lake covered just a fraction the area it did at the beginning of the century. Source: Bureau of Reclamation, "Klamath Irrigation Project, Oregon-California," 1926, HQ-KBNWR. 104 Figure 2.9: Livestock grazing on the Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge, 1933. Source: Record Group 22: Records of the U . S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Box 27, National Archives - College Park. 105 Chapter Three A Place in the Grid: Refuges and the Irrigated Landscape The Migratory Bird Treaty in 1916 recognized the need to consider the entire life cycle and migrations of waterfowl when devising bird protection plans. In the years immediately following passage of the act, the U . S. Bureau of Biological Survey lacked sufficient resources to implement a coherent plan to restore dwindling waterfowl populations. In Canada, the federal government had no agency responsible for managing waterfowl and relied on the provinces to handle the protection of birds.1 While the Migratory Bird Treaty was an impressive milestone in conservation diplomacy, in practice, it did little to counter loss of habitat, the most pressing issue affecting migratory birds. During the 1930s in the United States, the fortunes of migratory waterfowl - and the Biological Survey - began to change. An infusion of federal funds and labor allowed the Biological Survey to undertake restoration projects throughout the country. The wildlife refuge system grew dramatically as the federal government bought marginal land to convert into wildlife sanctuaries. Using the flyway concept, the Biological Survey 1 Until the creation of the Dominion Wildlife Service in 1947, migratory bird officers employed by the Wildlife Division of the Parks Branch enforced the Migratory Bird Convention Act (1917). Such officers were few. During the 1920s, for instance, the Parks Branch employed one officer to cover British Columbia and the prairie provinces. Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers were also expected to enforce the act, but their willingness to do so was limited. J. Alexander. Burnett, A Passion for Wildlife: The History of the Canadian Wildlife Service (Vancouver: U B C Press, 2003), 12-30 106 selected key sites along major bird migration routes to provide waterfowl with a dependable chain of wetlands throughout their annual journeys. The agency also sought to replace its earlier ineffectual management with an increasingly rationalized waterfowl restoration program. National wildlife leaders and heads of the Bureau of Biological Survey such as Jay 'Ding' Darling, Ira Gabrielson, and Albert Day approached the protection of migratory waterfowl with missionary zeal. Continental (or at least national) migratory waterfowl protection was a grand experiment. Never before had the United States or Canada attempted to manage wildlife on such a scale. There were limits to what Biological Survey could achieve, even during an era when the power of the federal government grew considerably. It might have created more refuges during the 1930s, but those refuges still lay within an agricultural landscape where farmers were often hostile to the aims of wildlife protectionists. Refuges depended on water supplied by irrigators, and in the case of the Klamath Basin refuges, by other federal agencies like the Bureau of Reclamation. Since most refuges consisted of only a few thousand acres, refuge managers sought to make every drop of water count. The Biological Survey designed refuges to make them support the maximum number of waterfowl. Engineering allowed the Biological Survey to create ponds and wetlands in the refuges. By the late 1930s, the agency began raising crops to feed waterfowl, which connected the refuges and the irrigated countryside more tightly together. 107 The New Deal, Planning, and Wildlife Before the Great Depression, the Biological Survey was a troubled agency beset by critics, some of whom wanted it abolished. Sport hunters criticized the agency's wildlife regulations and its inability to halt the decline of North American waterfowl populations. While the agency successfully lobbied for passage of the Norbeck-Andersen Migratory Bird Conservation Act in 1929, the onset of the depression slowed funding to a trickle and the agency purchased very little land. The agency stood watch over dozens of refuges, but remained powerless to halt their further deterioration. The Bureau of Reclamation and irrigation districts drained premier refuges including Lower Klamath, Tule, and Malheur Lakes. The Biological Survey protested to no avail. 2 The number of migratory waterfowl fell dramatically during the early 1930s. The populations of ducks and geese had increased briefly after the signing of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, but began to decline shortly thereafter. Fewer market hunters killed ducks and geese in the 1920s, and stiffer hunting regulations limited the toll sport hunters exacted on waterfowl. Yet farmers continued to drain wetlands to expand crop production, particularly in the Prairie Pothole Region of the United States and Canada where half of the continent's waterfowl nested. Drought conditions that began during the 1930s dried many of the remaining marshes on the prairies and elsewhere, leaving few places for waterfowl to nest in the summer or to live in the winter. For waterfowl, the 108 Dust Bowl that consumed the Great Plains during the early 1930s was an ecological catastrophe.3 The drought hit farmers especially hard. In 1930, many of the nation's farmers were already under financial stress due to low crop prices during much of the preceding decade. To offset low prices, more land was brought into production. The subsequent glut of crops depressed commodity prices even further. Midwest farmers were in a precarious position. Hard times left them without a cushion to soften the blow of the droughts that often struck the plains states. The drought that gripped the Prairies between 1930 and 1936 helped push many farmers into financial ruin.4 In an effort to address the agricultural crisis, reformers suggested that the federal government purchase surplus crops, impose limitations on the amount of land farmers could cultivate, and remove marginal farmland from production. Agricultural reformers proposed a number of solutions to raise crop prices. Some of the proposals included purchasing surplus crops and the imposition by the federal government of limitations on the amount of land farmers could cultivate. In early 1934, the National Recovery 2 U.S. Department of Agriculture, Report of Chief of Bureau of Biological Survey, 1927, (Washington, D.C., 1927), 4, 18 and Report of the Chief of the Bureau of Biological Survey, 1932 (Washington, D.C., 1932), 1-2, 18-19. 3 Ann Vileisis, Discovering the Unknown Landscape: a History of America's Wetlands (Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 1997), 167-175 and James B. Trefethen, Crusade for Wildlife: Highlights in Conservation Progress (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: The Stackpole Company, 1961), 251-264. 4 On the social and economic effects of the Great Depression, see David M . Kennedy, Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945 (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1999), 160-217 and Donald Worster, Dust Bowl: the Southern Plains in the 1930s (New York: Oxford University Press, 1979), 99-164 109 Administration began to pursue the latter strategy. Some of this land taken out of production was developed for recreation, transferred to Indian tribes, or given to the Biological Survey to convert into wildlife refuges. On the Great Plains, refuges were part of a larger conservation strategy to control wind erosion. The federal government hoped to address the plight of migratory waterfowl and farmers simultaneously.5 As these actions suggest, the protection of migratory waterfowl had become a priority for President Franklin D. Roosevelt. At the urging of his friend Thomas Beck, one of the founders of the More Game Birds in America Foundation, the President formed a committee to develop solutions to solve the nation's waterfowl shortage. Beck was appointed head of the committee, which included Jay 'Ding' Darling, a political cartoonist, and Aldo Leopold, then a professor in wildlife management at the University of Wisconsin - Madison. A l l three men were passionate conservationists, though they each had different perspectives on how to solve the waterfowl problem.6 Beck promoted the view of the More Game Birds in America Foundation. This organization sought to apply the techniques of business management to wildlife restoration. In this view, waterfowl and other game birds were a crop, production of which could be boosted by the application of business principles. Many sport hunters and wildlife officials agreed with this position. Implementing it meant purchasing land in the 5 Theodore Saloutos, The American Farmer and the New Deal (Ames: The Iowa State University Press, 1982), 194-198, 259. Minutes of a Meeting with the Senate Wild Life Committee at the Capitol, Washington, D.C., 9 January 1934, Bureau of Biological Survey Records, Office Files of J.N. 'Ding' Darling, 1930-35, R G 22, N A R A - C P . 6 Trefethen, Crusade for Wildlife, 264-267. 110 breeding ground of waterfowl, supervising the reservations with trained personnel, growing food for the birds, eliminating predators, and suppressing fire. Indeed, the Biological Survey tried to implement such an approach over the preceding decade, but rarely had the funds to do the job adequately. Reflecting his organization's lack of faith in the Biological Survey, Beck advocated the private ownership of breeding and wintering areas as well as the artificial propagation of waterfowl through captive breeding programs.7 Leopold saw the need to protect wildlife habitat, but challenged many of Beck's suggestions. Shortly before joining the committee, Leopold had finished Game Management, a textbook that would have an enormous influence on wildlife conservation for decades to come. In it, he argued that conservationists should raise wildlife like a crop for the benefit of all Americans. Though Beck and Leopold both saw game as reproducible, Leopold realized that there were complex relationships between wildlife and the environment, and that wildlife managers needed to consider many intangibles if they wanted to perpetuate the resource. A more fundamental difference turned on Leopold's belief in the public ownership of wildlife and keeping hunting areas accessible to all Americans as long as they honored necessary regulations. For much of his career Leopold had fought the 'European model' of hunting, where game belonged to a wealthy W.G. Leitch, Ducks and Men: Forty Years of Co-Operation in Conservation (Winnipeg, Manitoba: Ducks Unlimited (Canada), 1978), 13-15; Curt Meine, Aldo Leopold: His Life and Work (Madison: Univ. of Wisconsin Press, 1988), 314-15, 318-19; David E. Lendt, Ding: The Life of Jay Norwood Darling (Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1989), 36-37. I l l elite on privately owned land. To Leopold, Beck's plan seemed an attempt to privatize America's public hunting commons.8 Darling lacked Leopold's scientific background in game management and Beck's experience managing a conservation organization, but what he lacked in scientific expertise, he made up for with political aptitude. He had a keen sense of the political process and of how to achieve results in Washington, D.C. Darling was one of the most influential political cartoonists of his day. As such, he was in a unique position to publicize his conservation views and criticize the federal government for its failure to protect migratory waterfowl. Darling lived in Iowa, a state where farmers had suffered greatly from drought and falling crop prices during the early years of the Depression. He had also seen thousands of acres of wetlands in Iowa drained to make way for agricultural land. A program that could remove marginal land from production and convert it into marshes for waterfowl, he believed, might save North American waterfowl from extinction.9 Despite the disagreements between Beck and Leopold, the committee reached an agreement and completed their report in February 1934. Leopold and Darling convinced Aldo Leopold, Game Management (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1933) and Meine, Aldo Leopold, 316-317. For a detailed study of Leopold's views on keeping wildlife public, see Louis Warren's The Hunter's Game: Poachers and Conservationists in Twentieth-Century America (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997), 71-73, 80-81. 9 On Darling's life and work, Lendt, Ding: the Life of Jay Norwood Darling; Philip A . Du Mont and Henry M . Reeves, "The Darling-Salyer Team," in Flyways: Pioneering Waterfowl Management in North America, ed. A .C . Hawkins, R.C. Hanson, H.K. Nelson, andH.M. Reeves, 107-112 (Washington, D . C : The United States 112 Beck not to include suggestions for the artificial propagation of waterfowl and the abolition of the Biological Survey. Instead the group concluded that unwise development of marginal agricultural land was primarily responsible for the decline of waterfowl populations, and that bird numbers would not be increased simply by imposing more stringent regulations. The committee proposed a nation-wide restoration effort to include the purchase and conversion of four million acres of poor quality grazing and farm land to convert into refuges. Other money from New Deal agencies like the Public Works Administration and the Civi l Works Administration would go towards restoration work on newly acquired refuges or the poorly maintained refuges already in existence. The report had widespread support among dozens of the country's leading conservation organizations including the National Association of Audubon Societies, the Izaak Walton League, - and even though the report lacked some of Beck's key suggestions - the More Game Birds in America foundation.10 When the chief of the Biological Survey Paul Redington resigned shortly after the committee submitted its report, Roosevelt and Secretary of Agriculture Henry Wallace offered Darling the position.11 In accepting the post, Darling extracted a guarantee from Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, 1984): Peter Matthiessen, Wildlife in America (New York: Viking Press, 1959), 220 and Meine, Aldo Leopold, 318-19. 1 0 U.S. Department of Agriculture, "Report of the President's Committee on Wild-Life Restoration," Original Copy of President's Committee on Wildlife Restoration, Bureau of Biological Survey Records, Office Files of J.N. 'Ding' Darling, 1930-1935, R G 22, N A R A - C P , 1-6, 22-23. The committee singled out the draining of Lower Klamath Lake as a glaring example of an ill-planned draining scheme. See Report, 5. 1 1 It is not clear whether Wallace asked Redington to step-down. No doubt, he recognized that the report showed the Biological Survey's inability to halt the decline in 113 Wallace that hunting club members would not dictate Biological Survey policy and a promise from Roosevelt to allocate one million dollars immediately for wildlife conservation. Wallace and Roosevelt agreed to this, though as Darling learned, Roosevelt often failed to keep his promises. Four months later, Congress had not allocated the funds promised by Roosevelt, and the Biological Survey's ambitious refuge enlargement program lay dormant. Darling asked Senator Peter Norbeck of South Dakota, who had supported conservation measures in the past, to attach a resolution to the Duck Stamp Bi l l in 1934 (which used funds generated from an annual federal waterfowl hunting stamp to finance refuge acquisition) granting one million dollars in unallocated relief funds to the Biological Survey. He agreed, and raised the figure to six million dollars. The Senate passed the bill, and Roosevelt signed it without noticing the funds Norbeck had added. This instance shows that the new chief was a craftier politician than were previous chiefs of the agency and that Darling was willing to adopt creative tactics to further his conservation goals.12 The Biological Survey garnered funds from a number of sources. It used money raised from the sale of Duck Stamps and the Emergency Relief Program to buy land for refuges. It also used funds and labor from the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), one of Roosevelt's most popular New Deal programs, to develop refuges. For the Biological waterfowl populations and that it called Redington's leadership into question. See Lendt, Ding, 67. 1 2 Lendt, Ding, 69-70,15-11. Report of the Chief of the Bureau of Biological Survey, 1934 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Agriculture), 2; Trefethen, Crusade for Wildlife, 263-64. 114 Survey, which had never received sustained attention or adequate funding from the federal government, the new pool of labor offered by the C C C was a windfall. By 1935, the C C C operated twenty-six camps on refuges throughout the country. Now it could implement a wildlife restoration program of sufficient magnitude to match the scale of the waterfowl crisis. The refuge system was growing, too. Between 1935 and 1937 the number of national wildlife refuges doubled; by 1940 they doubled again.1 3 The C C C began in 1933 as a make-work program run by the U.S. Army to employ young men in forestry and soil protection projects throughout the nation. The men enrolled in the program lived in camps with military-style barracks and were subjected to the discipline of camp managers. The word 'conservation' in the program's name had a dual meaning: Roosevelt wanted the program to help conserve natural resources and conserve the bodies of young men going to waste due to the Depression. The C C C would heal the wounds on the land of years of neglect while restoring both the bodies and souls of the nation's youth.14 The Biological Survey eagerly tapped the pool of labor the C C C offered. Certainly, other land management agencies like the U.S. Forest Service and National Park Service also benefited from work projects carried-out by the C C C . For the Biological Survey, which had never received adequate funding or sustained attention 13 Report of the Chief of the Bureau of Biological Survey, 1935, (Washington, D . C : U.S. Department of Agriculture), 5. 1 4 Richard Lowitt, The New Deal and the West (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1984), 75-80 and Neil M . Maher, "A New Deal Body Politic: Landscape, Labor, and the Civilian Conservation Corps," Environmental History 7, no. 3 (2002): 435-61. 115 from the Department of Agriculture, the C C C provided the labor it needed to undertake restoration projects. It could implement a wildlife restoration program of sufficient magnitude to match the scale of the waterfowl crisis. 1 5 During the New Deal years, the power of the federal government increased in nearly every facet of American life. For all of its importance, the New Deal role of the federal government in wildlife conservation was an extension rather than an innovation. This was particularly true in the American West where the federal government still retained control over a large percentage of the region. Fifty percent of the lands in the western states remained in federal ownership in 1930. Two agencies managed the bulk of this land: the U.S. Forest Service, which controlled forested mountainous areas, and the General Land Office, which retained lands that homesteaders had never claimed or that were primarily used for livestock grazing.16 Except in the National Forests, the federal government exercised only modest power over these lands; it was an absentee landlord for the most part, and there were few restrictions on how residents used the land. 1 7 Creating refuges was not simply a matter of transferring control of the land from different government agencies to the Biological Survey. Homesteaders who depended on such areas to farm or water their stock in the predominantly semi-arid region claimed most Bureau of Biological Survey Annual Report, 1935, 5. 1 6 With the passing of the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934, the remaining land under the jurisdiction of the General Land Office was removed from potential homesteading and transferred to the new Grazing Service in the Department of the Interior. See Lowitt, New Deal, 65-72 and White, "It's Your Misfortune", 479. 116 western wetlands. In few areas where large marshes once existed - in the Klamath Basin, the Malheur Basin, the Sacramento Valley, and coastal estuaries - farmers encouraged by laws such as the Swamp Land Acts had drained large areas of wetlands for agricultural development. Most of the land that remained in federal hands was too forested, rocky, or mountainous for use as farmland. These areas did not include wetlands of large enough extent to attract many waterfowl. By the 1930s, it was clear that if the Biological Survey wanted to restore waterfowl along the Pacific Flyway, it would have to purchase lands and develop them into refuges. Federal influence expanded considerably in the West during the 1930s. Roosevelt and Harold Ickes, the Interior Secretary during the New Deal, saw federal projects in the region as a way to develop the West and help it shed its colonial relationship with the East. In order to do this, Ickes and other New Deal planners believed that western development hinged on expanding the manufacturing capacity of the region. No longer would the region's timber and mineral be shipped to be processed in the East. New factories and growing cities would lift the West from its dependent status. With careful, rational management places like the Pacific Northwest could become the "planned promised land" and support a flourishing society.18 William Riebsame, James J. Robb, and University of Colorado at Boulder Center of the American West, ed., Atlas of the New West: Portrait of a Changing Region (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1997), 58-59. 1 8 Lowitt, The New Deal in the West, 138-152; White, "It's Your Misfortune," 472-477; Carl Abbott, "The Federal Presence," in The Oxford History of the American West, ed. Clyde A Milner, II, Carol A. O'Connor, Martha A . Sandweiss (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994), 474-482; Gerald Nash, The Federal Landscape: An 117 Hydroelectric dams would provide the energy for this industrial expansion. The Bureau of Reclamation, whose irrigation projects had often been the subject of ridicule in earlier decades, emerged as a powerful agency during the New Deal. With the completion of the Boulder Dam (later renamed Hoover Dam) in 1935, the agency demonstrated it was capable of building large, multi-purpose water projects that would satisfy both urban and rural residents in the West. The dam straddled the Colorado River and provided electricity for southwestern cities like Los Angeles and parts of Arizona as well as water for the Imperial Irrigation District near the Mexico border in California. Similar multipurpose projects became commonplace after World War II as the Bureau of Reclamation and the Corps of Engineers undertook massive development projects on other western rivers like the Sacramento and Columbia. 1 9 The Biological Survey's refuge program formed a small component of this massive federal deployment in the West. The agency enlarged its domain during the New Deal, but the resources at its disposal were modest compared to other federal agencies. More than any president since Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt had a keen interest in wildlife, forestry, and the outdoors in general, and he was willing to pursue a conservation agenda. Despite his enthusiasm for conservation and the eagerness of his Economic History of the Twentieth-Century West (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1999), 22-24, 39. 1 9 Surveys of the Bureau of Reclamation and water development projects during the New Deal include, Lowitt, The New Deal in the West, 81-99; Donald Worster, Rivers of Empire: Water, Aridity, and Growth in the American West (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985), 209-211, 237-245; White, "It's Your Misfortune", 483-487; 118 cabinet members to implement his plans, the president's wildlife recovery plan was riddled with contradictions. He was a fervent champion of large-scale water projects like Hoover Dam and the Central Valley Project even though these projects often destroyed waterfowl habitat that the Biological Survey sought to protect. The small refuges created during the New Deal as well as the ones restored during this time could hardly withstand the onslaught of water development. Given the resources allocated towards dam construction, the meager funds given for wildlife protection were like throwing cash into a hurricane. A Bird's Eye View of the Continent - Developing the Flyway Concept After the signing of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in 1916, the Biological Survey began a more concerted effort to understand the migration patterns of North American birds. While the Biological Survey had conducted research on bird migration since its inception in 1885, most agency research in the early-twentieth century focused on how to use birds for controlling insect pests. To enforce the act and devise hunting regulations for migratory waterfowl, the Biological Survey needed a more detailed knowledge of bird migration. Ornithologists, however, were only beginning to study the life histories and ecology of birds. Though some ornithologists had studied bird migration since the founding of the American Ornithologists' Union in 1883, most workers in the discipline were preoccupied with collecting and classifying bird specimens. The Biological Survey Norris Hundley Jr., The Great Thirst: Californians and Water, 1770s-1990s (Berkeley: 119 and non-governmental associations tried various means of tracking the arrival and departure dates of migrating birds. Only after the ornithologists began banding birds on a large scale did their migration patterns begin to come into focus. Ornithologists attached aluminum bands with the address of the bander or of a recording agency engraved in the metal to the legs of birds. When someone killed or found the banded birds, she could return the band to the address with information on where it was found. Using this method, ornithologists were able to determine the sites used by birds and to devise 20 theories about the routes the birds took between them. The Biological Survey chose Frederick C. Lincoln to manage its migration study (Figure 3.1). Formerly a curator at the Colorado Museum in Denver, Lincoln came to his new post with a reputation for carefully analyzing data and conducting his research efficiently. Lincoln encouraged ornithologists and bird enthusiasts to band birds while at the same time he raised the standards to certify them for the task. During the 1920s, he cultivated a network of volunteer bird banders throughout the United States and Canada that included both professional and amateur ornithologists. Sport hunters and others sent bands collected from dead birds to Washington, D.C. Lincoln and his staff matched the University of California Press, 1992), 201-272; Nash, The Federal Landscape, 24-27. 2 0 Frederick C. Lincoln, "Bird Banding," in Fifty Years' Progress in American Ornithology, 1883-1933, ed. Frank M . Chapman andT.S. Palmer, 65-87, (Lancaster, Pennsylvania: American Ornithologists' Union, 1933); Keir B. Sterling, "Builders of the U.S. Biological Survey, 1885-1930," Journal of Forest History October (1989): 180-187; Barrow, Passion for Birds, 184-190; and Matthew D. Evenden, "The Laborers of Nature: Economic Ornithology and the Role of Birds as Agents of Biological Pest Control in North American Agriculture, ca. 1880-1930," Forest & Conservation History 39 (October 1995): 172-83. 120 numbered bands with cards containing information on where and when the birds were banded. By 1930, volunteers had banded over 740,000 birds and returned 10,000 bands from dead birds to the Biological Survey (Figure 3.2).21 In effect, Lincoln had turned the research offices of the Biological Survey into what Bruno Latour calls a centre of calculation.22 Lincoln and his staff were at the heart of a data collecting network that included bird banders, hunters, and of course, the birds themselves. Under Lincoln's guidance, the Biological Survey was able to centralize the production of bird banding data. Instead of bands being sent to a number of different agencies or countries, under his program all bands were sent to the bureau's offices in Washington, D.C. (This is in sharp contrast to Europe where many countries had their 23 own banding programs.) As Lincoln mapped the banding sites and retrieval points for individual birds, a pattern began to emerge. The birds did not migrate to different areas year after year as previously thought. Rather, birds repeatedly followed the same route each season even though other members of the same species might travel elsewhere. For instance, although Canada geese had a continental distribution, and many of them bred in the Arctic, various populations wintered in different areas. What had previously seemed a confusing Frederick C. Lincoln, Bird-Banding; Its First Decade Under the Biological Survey, U.S. Bureau of Biological Survey (Washington, D . C : Government Printing Office, 1931), 29. Barrow, Passion for Birds, 165-172. 2 2 Bruno Latour, Science in Action (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1987), 219-37. 2 3 Frederick C. Lincoln, The Migration of American Birds (New York: Doubleday, Doran & Company, Inc., 1939), 109. 121 movement of birds south each fall became a set of paths that biologists could trace on maps. Lincoln called these broad migration paths flyways, and he named four of them: the Pacific, Central, Mississippi, and Atlantic (Figure 3.3. See also Figure A in the Introduction). Using the flyway concept, federal and state officials could compartmentalize space even further to manage waterfowl. Shortly after Lincoln developed the concept, the Biological Survey divided waterfowl management into four administrative regions that roughly corresponded to the flyway boundaries drawn by Lincoln (Figure 3.4). Region One, the area encompassing the American section of the Pacific Flyway, included all the West Coast states as well as Idaho, Nevada, and Arizona. Each region had a flyway biologist who reported on regional conditions and processed data on waterfowl populations. Fish and game departments in each state were responsible for enforcing hunting regulations. This bureaucratization of waterfowl management served to blur the distinctions between the biological flyway Lincoln described and the administrative structure constructed to manage it . 2 4 Adding Links to the Chain - the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge To sustain migratory waterfowl along the Pacific Flyway the Biological Survey needed refuges in the heart of the birds' wintering range, the Central Valley of California. Albert Day, North American Waterfowl (New York: Stackpole and Heck, 1949), 71-88. 122 While thousands of birds wintered on or near the Salton Sea, millions more wintered in the great valley to the north. But freshwater marshes were spread unevenly through the area. Marshes once bordered the San Joaquin River and filled the Tulare Lake basin. By the 1930s, irrigation districts had drained these marshes and replaced them with orchards, fields of cotton, and other crops. To the north, marshes were only slightly more abundant. Diking along the Sacramento River allowed irrigators to establish farms in these newly protected areas, but starved the wetlands nourished by the river's seasonal flooding. Within a few decades, the fertile marshes of the Central Valley had been replaced by an agricultural countryside. By 1939, over 85 percent of the wetlands in the Central Valley were gone.25 These figures hide a more complicated process. Water development in California and Oregon may have destroyed vast stretches of migratory waterfowl habitat, but it also created it, too. Important wintering areas for migratory waterfowl like Tulare Lake and Owens Lake literally disappeared as irrigation districts and metropolitan areas diverted the water coming into these lakes for other uses. Yet the irrigation disaster in the Imperial Valley created the Salton Sea, and ducks and other birds quickly began to use it. Waterfowl also adapted to the fields of crops that replaced the wetlands and lakes that once spread across the valleys of California. The replacement of the wetlands with an agricultural landscape did provide some opportunities for migratory birds. Yet the actions W.E. Frayer, Dennis D. Peters, and H . Ross Pywell, Wetlands of the California Central Valley: Status and Trends, 1935 to mid-1980s (Portland, Oregon: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1989), 6. 123 of farmers, sport hunters, and wildlife mangers would largely determine how migratory waterfowl used this new landscape. The most promising place to establish a wildlife refuge in the Sacramento Valley was the Spalding Ranch near Willows, California (Figure 3.5). Sport hunters considered the ranch to be one of the best places in California to hunt geese, and the ranch served as a private hunting reserve for the Spalding family and their business associates such as bankers, lawyers, and officials of the Southern Pacific Railroad. Although the ranch had poor soil, the Spalding Trust Company was able to grow rice on part of the property and graze sheep on the rest. As rice prices dropped in the early 1930s, the company opened more of the ranch to hunters willing to pay a fee. Even with the added revenue brought in by sport hunters, the ranch continued to lose money. By 1935, the company owed over two hundred thousand dollars to the Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District, which supplied the ranch with water, and the local reclamation district that was responsible for maintaining canals that carried water away from the fields. With the company unable to pay its debts, . the Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District assumed title to the Spalding Ranch. 2 6 The Biological Survey inspected the ranch in 1935 to determine whether it was suitable for a migratory waterfowl refuge and whether the agency could develop the property. The report the agency produced not only describes the condition of the land at that time, it also provides a valuable indication of how the land could fit into the Biological Survey's overall plans for the Pacific Flyway. Here, as elsewhere, the bureau 124 thought of the potential refuge as a sanctuary where hunting would be prohibited. Although market hunting had decreased substantially in California since the turn of the century and sport hunting was more closely regulated, the bureau still believed that refuges should be protected areas where birds could find relief from shooting during hunting season. Moreover, the proposed Spalding refuge held an important place in the Biological Survey's management of Pacific Flyway birds. The number of hunters in southern California was increasing as Los Angeles, San Diego, and other cities in the area grew. Without a substantial refuge in the Sacramento Valley, migratory waterfowl would continue to fly southward past an increasing gauntlet of California hunters. The bureau did not expect a Sacramento Valley refuge to stop further migration entirely, but did hope "that further southern migration might to some degree be halted." Indeed it was confident, "that with water and feed conditions made favorable, this expectation [was] not unreasonable."27 While the size of the Spalding Ranch attracted the interest of wildlife officials, they knew that the extent of a refuge mattered little without sufficient water to nourish wetlands. The early surveys of the Spalding Ranch devoted considerable attention to the water situation on the ranch and to how the agency could find enough water to make a refuge viable. To supply the refuge with water, the Biological Survey could buy water from the Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District, pump it from wells on the property, or divert Cynthia F. Davis, Where Water is King: the Story of the Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District (Willows, California.: Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District, 1984), 89-96. 125 drainage water flowing through the ranch into ponds constructed by the bureau. To conserve funds, the agency favored the last option. It hoped to divert water from Logan Creek, an ephemeral stream running through the property, for its ponds. The Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District maintained that the water belonged to them since farms using district water were the source of the creek's flow. Even if the irrigation district had no right to the water, the quality of the water in Logan Creek was often poor. Sewage from the town of Willows to the north flowed into Logan Creek (the Biological Survey hoped the California State Board of Health would force the town to cease this practice). Pumping water from creeks outside the property would be even more contentious. Buying water from the district was the least attractive choice financially, but legally the Biological Survey realized it might have no other option.2 8 Negotiations with the irrigation district revealed the Biological Survey's inexperience with land purchases. The agency demonstrated its interest in the Spalding Ranch throughout 1935 and 1936 by surveying the land and by sending high-level Biological Survey officials to visit the ranch. With only a cursory knowledge of the area and limited experience in purchasing real estate, the agency exposed itself to deception. As negotiations to buy the land proceeded in the summer of 1936, the Biological Survey learned that no provisions for water had been made in the preliminary contract with the Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District. S. A. Young, "Spalding Ranch," Records of the Pacific Northwest Regional Office, Portland, Oregon, 1937-67, R G 22, N A R A - S , 2-3 2 8 Ibid., 3-10. 126 A representative from the Spalding Company told the agency that without an agreement on water the new refuge might not receive any water whatsoever or be forced to buy water from the irrigation district at a premium rate. Federal attorneys working on the negotiations for the Biological Survey were furious that the U.S. government had nearly purchased a wildlife refuge without water. L . M . Windsor, an irrigation engineer for the Department of Agriculture, believed that the Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District knew "perfectly well what that outcome of the transaction would be. They have water to sell and they realize perfectly well that there is no other adequate supply for the property." The agency renegotiated the contract and managed to secure water from the district at a reduced rate. The Biological Survey's enormous blunder demonstrated that even though it was part of the federal government, long-established powerful interests 29 like the irrigation districts would check the agency's power in the Sacramento Valley. Water was crucial to the development of the Sacramento Refuge. The agency was not attempting to restore lost wetlands so much as create new wetlands where few had existed before (Figures 3.6 - 3.9). The Spalding Ranch was an attractive addition to the federal refuge system, but not because it contained remnants of the Central Valleys lost marshes. Rather, the property was attractive for its low price and as a site where new marshes might be created. The Biological Survey envisaged the property as a migratory waterfowl sanctuary amid an intensely managed agricultural countryside. Yet its plans L. M . Winsor to Chief of U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Bureau of Engineering S. H. McCrory, 1 July 1936, 6 July 1936 and L. M . Winsor, "Report: Construction Program for 127 would change over the decade to accommodate the interests of farmers, irrigation districts, and sports hunters. Like a water vane, it was turned by shifts in the winds of local and national politics. Attempts by the Biological Survey to bolster its public image had material consequences on the ground as the agency managed water, vegetation, birds, and other species to accommodate them. By acquiring the refuge, the Biological Survey became more deeply involved in conflicts over the depredations of waterfowl in the Sacramento Valley. One of the agency's surveyors, S. A. Young, wrote in 1935 that "with the development of the Spalding Ranch into a refuge, responsibility for whatever trespass exists will undoubtedly be placed on Bureau shoulders, and there will arise the demand that the refuge produce at least some of the meals [for waterfowl]."30 The refuge was not only a sanctuary from the guns of sport hunters; it was a space in which to segregate waterfowl from farmland. Achieving this required the careful development of refuge lands. The debate over how to achieve these dual goals hinged on whether to grow suitable aquatic plants in the refuge's new ponds or to undertake a rice farming program to grow more feed in a limited area. In the end, this debate was secondary. Above all, the refuge needed water. Conflicts between the Biological Survey and the Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District flared between the two groups throughout the late 1930s and early 1940s. To reduce operating costs, the Biological Survey wanted to divert water from Logan Creek which carried Spalding Ranch (Sacramento Migratory Waterfowl Refuge)," 11 May 1937, Historical Files, SNWR-HQ. 3 0 Young, "Spalding Ranch," 15. 128 drainage water through the refuge. The bureau realized that the creek would rarely contain enough water to supply all of the refuge's needs, but using water from the creek was preferable to buying all of it from the irrigation district. It also realized that filing a legal claim on water in the creek would antagonize the irrigation district. Given the choice of either buying sums of water it could not afford or using water from Logan Creek, the bureau chose the latter.31 The Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District responded swiftly to the Biological Survey's water application in February 1938. Lawyers for the district argued that the Sacramento Refuge lay within the district's boundaries and was subject to its water use regulations. According to the district, the water flowing through the refuge was not natural but artificially derived from fields irrigated with water the district pumped from the Sacramento River and diverted into the area. The lawyers urged the Biological Survey to proceed cautiously, and that pursuing this matter might jeopardize relations between the bureau and the district. The district was prepared to make things difficult for the Biological Survey if necessary. When the agency prepared to act on its filing and divert water from the creek into the refuges ponds, the irrigation district threatened to divert the 3 1 L . M . Winsor, "Report on Investigations, Surveys and Development Plans for the Sacramento Migratory Waterfowl Refuge (Spalding Ranch) California," U.S. Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Agricultural Engineering, 1936, Historical Files, SNWR-HQ, 4-8. 129 water around the sanctuary to another creek, a move that would leave the refuge entirely dry. 3 2 Postponing the delivery of water was another means by which the Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District could exercise its authority. In 1943, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ( F W S ) 3 3 attempted to negotiate an agreement to purchase water for growing rice on the refuge. Despite an agreement in principle, the district's board delayed signing the contract and called repeatedly for minor revisions. The district refused to grant requests for water even though the delay might mean the rice crop would not mature in time to feed the migratory waterfowl arriving in the fall. Recognizing that failure to secure the water and raise a rice crop would erode local support for the refuges and tarnish the agency's image, J. Clark Salyer II, the agency's chief of wildlife refuges, interpreted the district's recalcitrance "as a move to further embarrass us with the local farmers."34 For the FWS, the conflict over water supply on the Sacramento Refuge was also a struggle over space. Title to land in the semi-arid Sacramento Valley meant little without 3 2 S. J. Hankins to Brice McBride, 15 Feb. 1938 and L. M . Winsor to Brice McBride, Memorandum, 19 Aug. 1938, Historical Files, SNWR-HQ. 3 3 In 1940, the Bureau of Biological Survey was transferred from the Department of Agriculture to the Department of the Interior and renamed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 3 4 J.Clark Salyer II to Leo Laythe, 7 June 1943, Historical Files, SNWR-HQ. On FWS public relations in the Sacramento Valley, see J. Clark Salyer II to Leo Laythe, 28 April 1943, Historical Files, SNWR-HQ. For water conflicts between the Biological Survey/FWS and the Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District, see A .C . Elmer to Albert Day, 14 April 1943; Peter J. Van Huizen to Leo Laythe, 31 May 1943; Leo Laythe to FWS Director, 3 June 1943; J. Clark Salyer to Harry M . Creech, 7 June 1943; J. Clark Salyer to Leo Laythe, 7 June 1943; and Memorandum of Agreement Between Glenn-Colusa 130 water. Managing the refuge required controlling the flow of water in and out of its borders. As long as the refuge lay within the Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District, it was subject to its dictates. These often ran counter to the conservation goals of the FWS. Like the refuges in the Klamath Basin and the Salton Sea Refuge in the Imperial Valley, the Sacramento Refuge was a unit in a much larger irrigation network. The service's ability to manage its refuges were made possible by these districts; the districts delivered the water that sustained the refuge marshes and crops. Creating the Sacramento Refuge on a dry plain that had never held extensive wetlands would have been impossible without the irrigation network maintained by the districts. As a consequence, the Sacramento Refuge and other refuges in California regularly found themselves subservient to the dictates of 35 their water suppliers. As troubling as these disputes were, the FWS faced a more serious problem with duck and geese depredations in the Sacramento Valley. Even though rice production increased on the Sacramento Refuge, it failed to satisfy the needs of the waterfowl. The birds continued to feed in rice fields outside the refuge, though the damage they inflicted on private lands varied each year. The depredation problems only worsened during the early 1940s. Rice production remained more or less stagnant in the Sacramento Valley over the preceding decade. With America's entrance into World War II in 1941, however, Irrigation District and the Fish and Wildlife Service, May 1943, Historical Files, SNWR-HQ 3 5 Frank Arthur Hall Jr., "An Environmental History of the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge," (M.A. thesis, California State University - Chico, 1975), 7-10, 112-114. 131 rice acreage expanded dramatically just as it had during World War I. In Glenn and Colusa counties, the heart of California's rice growing district, rice acreage more than doubled between the mid-1930s and mid-1940s. As rice production increased, complaints about bird depredation rose as well. Although the Sacramento Refuge grew rice, birds continued to feed on crops outside the the refuge. As the original Biological Survey reports on the Spalding Ranch predicted, the federal government was held responsible for birds "trespassing" on private farm land. The increase in rice production throughout the Sacramento Valley had made growing feed for ducks on the refuge essential to prevent depredations. Poor soil and an inadequate water supply limited the FWS's ability to convert more of the Sacramento Refuge to rice production. Yet rice farmers generally blamed FWS ineptitude for the continuing depredations by birds. These attitudes jeopardized the agency's plans to expand the refuge program in California. If the FWS could not develop the Sacramento Refuge, its premier sanctuary in the middle of the state, how could it competently create new refuges elsewhere? The FWS wanted to added further links to the chain of refuges throughout the wintering range of migratory waterfowl along the Pacific Flyway, but criticism of the way the service handled the Sacramento Refuge threatened to undermine its larger goals. U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, United States Census of Agriculture: 1935, (Washington, D . C , 1936), Vol . 1, Part 3 and United States Census of Agriculture: 1950, (Washington, D . C , 1950), Vol . 1, Part 33. 132 In the fall of 1943 the FWS attempted to enlarge the Sacramento Refuge by purchasing condemned land east of the sanctuary. The property lay within the Provident Irrigation District, which was also run by the head of the Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District, Charles Lambert. Although the service wanted to create refuges elsewhere in the state, some officials in the FWS believed that enlarging the refuge was essential. The FWS used the Sacramento Refuge essentially as a rice farm for waterfowl. Albert Day, assistant head of the FWS, wanted to change this. Adding lands in the Provident Irrigation District would allow the service to grow more aquatic plants in the Sacramento Valley. "The present Sacramento Refuge does not have the element of naturalness such as Provident would have," Day wrote to regional director Leo Laythe and regional biologist Dr. E. E. Horn. But this, Day argued, was a temporary circumstance. The FWS should develop the Provident lands with the marsh and aquatic plant needs of the waterfowl in mind. Bigger refuges (in the Sacramento Valley and elsewhere in California) would not only give waterfowl a large area in which to feed, they would 37 provide a "sufficient area for them to be herded on during the crop season." Regional director Leo Laythe and regional biologist E. E. Horn disagreed strongly with the Provident purchase and with Day's plans for the post-war geography of Pacific Flyway refuges. Buying the property would only anger farmers and the Sacramento Refuge's water supplier, the Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District, even further. The district accused the FWS of stealing water pumped to the area by the district and of Albert Day to Leo Laythe and E. E. Horn, 11 March 1944, Historical File 133 failing to contain the birds. In a letter to U.S. Senator Hiram Johnson of California, the district claimed that the rice the FWS planted only encouraged more birds to congregate in the rice growing district. "Did these plantings [on the refuge] keep the birds home? NO, IT DID NOT.. .birds want to fly and roam to the hills, river and all over the country, or to any land that has any water standing on it." Sport hunters did not care about the farmers' legitimate grievances against the FWS and were interested in coming to the area "to hunt and have a good time." Though the FWS did not allow hunting on the refuge, sport hunters came to areas nearby and damaged fences, trampled crops, and shot farm animals. Purchasing the Provident land would also remove a large portion of land in the area from county tax rolls, adding to the land already removed when the federal government bought the Spalding Ranch in 1937.38 The sport hunters of California did not support enlarging the refuge either. Contrary to what the Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District said, most hunting groups acknowledged the damage the birds caused. The solution was not creating a large "super" refuge in the Sacramento Valley, but smaller refuges throughout the valley and to the south in the San Joaquin Valley. Despite their differences, both farming and sport hunting groups agreed on the need to disperse migratory waterfowl throughout the state. By creating feeding areas in other parts of California, farmers could distribute the bird menace as much as possible. For sport hunters, the reasons for supporting a system of SNWR-HQ. 3 8 George L . Otterson to Senator Hiram Johnson, 30 March 1944, Historical Files, SNWR-HQ. 134 smaller refuges were more complex. While they appreciated the protection offered by the Sacramento Refuge, they feared that too many ducks and geese would winter in the Sacramento Valley and not migrate further south. Sport hunters in southern California believed that without a wider distribution of refuges, they would have few chances to hunt migratory waterfowl in their part of the state. By law, lands bought with Duck Stamp revenue (the primary source of funds for purchasing federal wildlife refuges) were off-limits to hunting. Even so, the sanctuaries could serve as waterfowl magnets attracting ducks and geese to areas where southern Californians could hunt the birds on i n private land nearby. The debate over the Provident purchase revolved around more than the pressure of interest groups. Officials within the FWS also differed on the types of environments the refuges should foster. Political necessity had pushed the service to emphasize rice cultivation on the Sacramento Refuge. Growing rice was the simplest and most efficient way to raise large amounts of food for waterfowl and lure waterfowl away from private crop land. Yet agency officials at FWS headquarters in Chicago, Illinois 4 0, like the Minutes of Meeting of Joint Wildlife Management Committee of California, 3 March 1944, Historical Files, SNWR-HQ; Arthur T. Evans, Associated Sportsmen of California, to Harold Ickes, 22 March 1944, Historical Files, SNWR-HQ and H.L. Betten, "Rod and Gun," San Francisco Examiner, 12 March 1944. 4 0 During the early 1940s, the FWS was forced to move its headquarters from Washington, D.C. to a warehouse in Chicago, Illinois to make room for the growth in federal bureaucracy during the Second World War. Ira Gabrielson, the chief of the FWS, argued strenuously against the move, saying that it would hamper wildlife conservation and make management of the agency even more difficult. See Ira Gabrielson, "Memoirs of Ira M . Gabrielson, 1889-1977," unpublished manuscript, NCTC. On the reduction of 135 assistant head of the FWS Albert Day and the chief of refuges J. Clark Salyer II, still hoped to grow natural aquatic plants for ducks and geese to eat rather than just grains like rice and barley. Regional biologist Horn was skeptical of this goal and their intention to grow natural plants rather than rice on the Provident land if the FWS acquired it. "While Mr. Salyer refers to the naturalness of some of these units, I find that the ducks and geese concentrate in greatest numbers on areas that are thoroughly unnatural. The concentration of 100,000 ducks on several flooded rice fields, and their feeding upon 1,500 acres of adjacent rice.. .makes one wonder as to just what waterfowl prefer." While Horn may have sympathized with Salyer and Day's preference for natural aquatic plants, his experience in California had convinced him that grain fields in the Sacramento Valley would serve as irresistible attractions for migratory waterfowl. Developing a viable refuge for the birds meant growing what the ducks clearly preferred, and not what FWS officials in Chicago might have liked. 4 1 Restoring the Klamath Basin The 1930s and 1940s were also years of tremendous change in the Klamath Basin, the bottleneck for migratory birds along the Pacific Flyway. During the New Deal years, the basin was the site of a wildlife and wetland restoration program that dwarfed staff and funds during the war, see Annual Report of the Fish and Wildlife Service to the Secretary of the Interior, (Washington, D . C , 1943), 225-26, 254. 4 1 E. E. Horn to Director, FWS, 15 March 1944, 20 March 1944, and 23 March 1944, Historical Files, SNWR-HQ. 136 those in the Sacramento and Imperial Valleys. This was one of the largest restoration programs in the country. Labor and federal funds poured into the basin as the Biological Survey strove to rehabilitate its damaged marshes. But the efforts did not mean that the Bureau of Reclamation ceased to dictate water use in the basin. Rather, the management of the basin's refuges proceeded only when they served the interests of the Bureau of Reclamation and the farmers to whom they supplied water. Like the refuges further south in California, the Klamath Basin refuges lay within a shared space - hydrologically and politically. This simple reality frustrated attempts to develop sharp distinctions between different types of land. Confusion, rather than clarity, often reigned during these years. In the 1920s, the Biological Survey had struggled to establish new refuges in the Klamath Basin to compensate for the drainage of Lower Klamath Lake. The federal government established Upper Klamath Lake Refuge in 1928 with little opposition by sport hunters or business groups in Klamath Falls. The refuge encompassed the freshwater marshes where the Williamson River entered the northern part of the lake. Few sport hunters ventured there, and the refuge threatened no farms, so there was no opposition to its establishment. At the Tule Lake Refuge, the story was different. The Bureau of Reclamation began diverting water from the Lost River, the source of Tule Lake's water, to supply new homesteads in the first decade of the Klamath Project. Starved of water, Tule Lake shrank to a fraction of its former size over the following two decades. Although the 137 Bureau of Reclamation opened northern parts of the lakebed to homesteading, most of the area that Tule Lake had once covered remained unsettled. To extract revenue from the area, the Bureau of Reclamation leased land ahead of this advancing front of permanent farms. Hunters used the fields along the margin of Tule Lake during the fall season to hunt ducks and geese. For a time, farming, hunting, and limited grazing co-existed in this unclaimed area. The establishment of Tule Lake and the land immediately surrounding it as a wildlife refuge in 1928 should have pleased sport hunters, yet many of them reacted with outrage. The boundaries of the new refuge eliminated some of the prime hunting areas beside the lake, while allowing hunting in some of the areas south of the lake. In planning the refuge, the Biological Survey had considered banning hunting from most of the new refuge.42 It abandoned the position for fear of losing public support. Sport hunters reacted strongly against the configuration of the refuge because Tule Lake was the best place in the West Coast states for public waterfowl hunting. In the Central Valley, the increasingly limited acreage of marshes and the lands surrounding them had been converted into private hunting clubs. The outcry to the establishment Tule Lake Refuge At no time did the Biological Survey consider banning hunting from the refuge entirely. The agency understood that opposition by sport hunters and civic organizations in Klamath Falls might prevent the creation of the refuge if hunting was not allowed. That the Biological Survey never considered making Tule Lake a sanctuary where hunting was not allowed shows how the rising influence of sport hunters had changed how the Klamath Basin refuges would be managed. 138 showed the difficulty the Biological Survey faced in establishing refuges for migratory birds without upsetting West Coast sport hunters, its main constituency.43 Livestock grazing pushed aside hunting as the most pressing issue on the Tule Lake Refuge in the early 1930s. The Bureau of Reclamation issued grazing permits to cattle and sheep owners living nearby that allowed them to graze livestock on the refuge. The service granted a handful of permitees grazing privileges to large tracts of refuge land; one sheep outfit received a lease for 3,850 acres, over one-third of the refuge. Hundreds of sheep grazing on the refuge had a disastrous effect on the grasses and tules used by waterfowl for nesting. During the fall migration, geese regularly fed in the grass covered areas between the dikes separating the leased farm land and the open water of Tule Lake. With the grasses the birds ate either trampled or eaten by livestock, the geese flew to the leased farm land nearby and caused further depredations.44 The Bureau of Reclamation rarely consulted the Biological Survey before issuing grazing leases on the refuge, but the survey vigorously protested permitting grazing on For discussions on hunting in the proposed Tule Lake Refuge and protests over the size of the refuge, see Ray C. Steele to Paul Redington, 22 December 1927; Steele to Redington, 4 October 1928; Steele to Redington, 13 October 1928; L.W.T. Waller, Jr. to Marshall-Wells Company, Portland, Oregon, 14 October 1928; W. Sheldon, 27 December 1928; and the untitled petition opposing the size of the refuge sent to Paul Reddington and W . M . Jardine, "Tule Lake, 1934-1944" file, Reservations, Bureau of Biological Survey General Correspondence, 1890-1956, R G 22, N A R A - C P . Editorials in Klamath Falls newspapers also denounced the refuge. See "Organize Against Huge Reserve," Evening Herald, 12 October 1928. 4 4 H . M . Worcester to Chief, Bureau of Biological Survey, 13 Sept. 1933 and 19 Sept. 1933; W.E. Crouch to J.N. Darling, 12 Oct. 1934, Box 152, "Tule Lake, 1934-1944" file, Reservations, Bureau of Biological Survey General Correspondence, 1890-1956, R G 22, N A R A - C P . 139 Tule Lake after it learned of the service's plans. The service struggled through the early-1930s to exclude grazing from the refuge. Without restrictions on grazing, field officers with the Biological Survey stationed in southern Oregon questioned whether the refuge would have any value as a migration stop or nesting area for migratory birds. William Finley, who continued to protest the activities of the Bureau of Reclamation in the 1930s, echoed these concerns. In 1934 he wrote that "if we can't protect the birds on a federal reservation established by Executive Order, these sanctuaries have no specific value."45 Even the Biological Survey's attempts to maintain the refuge as public hunting ground were often disrupted. Some farmers who leased land on the refuge posted signs prohibiting hunting, which was against Bureau of Reclamation orders. The Linskey Brothers, who leased 5,000 acres on the refuge, posted signs on part of their leased land and collected fees from willing hunters. The reservation protector H . M . Worcester complained that wealthy doctors, attorneys, and friends of the Linskeys' continued to hunt in the area while other hunters were excluded. 4 6 For most of the 1920s and the early 1930s, Tule Lake was little more than a pond. In three decades it had shrunk from nearly 50,000 to only 2,000 acres. To be sure, 3 Quote from William Finley to J.N. Darling, 27 September 1934, Box 152, "Tule Lake, 1934-1944" file, Reservations, Bureau of Biological Survey General Correspondence, 1890-1956, R G 22, N A R A - C P . See also William Finley to Harold Ickes, 30 June 1934 and U.S. Game Conservation Officer to Paul Redington, 14 December 1933, "Tule Lake, 1934-1944" file, Reservations, Bureau of Biological Survey General Correspondence, 1890-1956, R G 22, N A R A - C P . 4 6 H . M . Worcester to Chief, Bureau of Biological Survey, 13 Jan. 1934, "Tule Lake, 1934-1944" file, Reservations, Bureau of Biological Survey General Correspondence, 1890-1956, R G 22, N A R A - C P . 140 the margins of the lake had fluctuated considerably before Euroamerican settlement, but these natural adjustments had never reduced the lake surface so dramatically. Both farmers leasing land surrounding the diminished lake and hunters along the shoreline claimed newly exposed land. Neither group accounted for the way precipitation and runoff varied in the basin, nor how sudden changes in rainfall could threaten these uses of the lake bed. When hydrologic conditions changed during the mid-1930s, reclamation officials, wildlife managers, and sport hunters tried to adapt. Despite claims by the Bureau of Reclamation that it controlled water in the basin completely, it was still learning how to deal with extreme weather events. The Lost River Diversion Dam directed water away from Tule Lake and into the Klamath River. Normally, the dam could easily divert most of the Lost River's flow. However, in 1937 heavy rains in October sent a torrent of water down the river that the Bureau of Reclamation struggled to contain. The flood destroyed part of the dam and sent water cascading into Tule Lake. The lake level rose quickly and breached the simple dikes surrounding the lake. Farmers and men from the C C C camp tried to contain the flooding with little success.47 Even without the this flood, the Bureau of Reclamation would have had difficulty restricting Tule Lake to only 2,000 acres. While the Lost River was the main source of water for Tule Lake before the reclamation project began, the development of irrigated 141 farms brought in water through new, partly artificial routes. After the fields were watered their fields, drainage canals carried excess water to Tule Lake. Also, return flow (water traveling below the ground surface) carried water to the lowest part of the basin where it collected. Since the basin lacked a natural outlet, water traveling by these means steadily enlarged the lake and threatened the dikes surrounding it. In the end, the Bureau of Reclamation was unable to control water in the basin completely. Draining Lower Klamath Lake had proved an unmitigated disaster. Dust from the exposed lakebed continued to plague residents within the Klamath Project's boundaries in places like Merrill, Malin, and Klamath Falls. Even the Tule Lake basin, which held rich soils and better prospects for homesteaders, was threatened by erratic water flows. The Lost River Diversion Dam was designed to regulate this flow for use by farmers in the basin, but heavy rains breached the dam and sent flood waters downstream into the basin. J. R. Iakisch, a Bureau of Reclamation engineer, designed an engineering solution to this dilemma. Employing the skills and mindset of his profession to address the oversupply of water in Tule Lake and the lack of it in Lower Klamath Lake, Iakisch developed a plan that included restoring the two lakes for migratory waterfowl, a development that sport hunters and bird protectionists had long requested. The center-piece of the plan was a mile-long tunnel through Sheepy Ridge, which separated Tule 4 / L . M . Winsor, L . M . Winsor to W . M . Rush, 11 April 1938, K B N W R - H Q and Narrative Report: Clear Lake Camp, Tule Lake Camp, Jan.-April 1938, Tualatin National Wildlife Refuge, Tualatin, Oregon. 142 Lake from Lower Klamath Lake. Excess water in Tule Lake would be pumped into the tunnel to flow into Lower Klamath Lake. Canals would then direct the water through a series of smaller ponds or units divided by dikes. After flowing through this system, the excess water would pass through a large canal into the Klamath River. By diverting its water into the Klamath River watershed where it had never flowed before, Tule Lake would have the outlet that the Bureau of Reclamation wanted. Work on the dikes in Lower Klamath Lake slowed during the early 1940s, but shortly after the Second World War ended the FWS and Bureau of Reclamation completed most of the key features of the project described by Iakisch. This engineering blurred the distinction between the natural hydrological regime of the basin and the constructed network of canals, dikes, and sumps built by the Bureau of Reclamation and the FWS. When possible, both agencies used pre-existing features of the landscape such as streams and lakes as the base for their engineering. It was cheaper and more practical to build a dam that raised the level of Clear Lake or to channel the Lost River to allow water to pass quickly into canals. Yet the agencies also created entirely new structures to manage water. The tunnel through Sheepy Ridge connected basins that had remained separate since the end of the Pleistocene epoch, and the miles of dikes built on Lower Klamath Refuge introduced features never seen before on this lake. USDI, Bureau of Reclamation, "Report on Tule Lake Reclamation, Klamath Project, Oregon, Report #5," (April 1938), K B N W R - H Q ; USDI, Bureau of Reclamation, "Klamath Project, Modoc Unit, California, Report #5A," (September 1944), K B N W R -HQ, 1-5; and W . M . Rush, C.G. Fairchild, and L . M . Windsor, "Memo for Dr. Ira N . Gabrielson," 4 February 1938, KBNWR-HQ, 1-6. 143 Each additional piece of engineering make it more difficult to tell where the natural and artificial lay within the Klamath Basin. 4 9 The changing fortunes of Lower Klamath and Tule Lake refuges mirrored the new found power of the FWS within the basin. By the 1940s, the agency had greater control over water within the refuges and the infrastructure to manage it more systematically. After disappearing for nearly twenty years, flocks of ducks and geese returned to the Lower Klamath Refuge in stunning numbers. In the coming years, the agency would undertake more ambitious schemes to curb the spread of avian diseases and to develop a farming program to provide food for migrating waterfowl. The beleaguered agency that seemed unable to save even itself, much less the wildlife under its care, was now emboldened to attempt large restoration programs in the Klamath Basin and on other refuges throughout the country.50 However, there were serious limits to the agency's ambitions. It still held no water rights for any of the refuges. The FWS signed agreements with the Bureau of Reclamation to manage water in the project. Even so, Tule Lake and Lower Klamath refuges lay within the Klamath Project, and the Bureau of Reclamation still managed Mark Fiege discusses hybrid irrigated landscapes in Irrigated Eden:: The Making of an Agricultural Landscape in the American West (Seattle: University of Washington Pres, 1999), 205-207, 208-209 0 For an account of FWS work on other refuges during this era, see Ira N . Gabrielson, Wildlife Refuges (New York: Macmillan Company, 1943), 133-181. The FWS also undertook major restoration work at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, the other large migratory waterfowl refuge in Oregon. See Nancy Langston, Where Land and Water Meet: A Western Landscape Transformed (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2003), 91-113. 144 water in the basin primarily for the needs of irrigators, not of refuges. In the coming decades, irrigators took control over more of the operation of the Klamath Project. The FWS would find that dealing with the irrigators was just as challenging as working with the Bureau of Reclamation had been. The Second World War, Japanese Internment, and the Refuges The war years brought additional problems to the Klamath Basin refuges. Labor and funding provided through Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal programs quickly disappeared after the war started. The Tule Lake C C C camp shut down, and the staff of the refuge shrank as personnel joined the armed forces. Agency officials in Washington, D.C. watched as Congress slashed FWS funding. The relocation of the agency's headquarters from Washington, D.C. to Chicago in 1942 further hampered the ability of the FWS to manage refuges effectively. Conservation was quickly sidetracked in times of war.51 Budgetary and labor shortages were not the only problems. In April 1942, the newly formed War Relocation Authority (WRA) began constructing an internment camp for Japanese-Americans on the eastern boundary of the Tule Lake Refuge. The camp was one of many built by the federal government during the Second World War to house Japanese-Americans, but it was the largest. Eventually it housed over 18,000 people. 5 1 Ira Gabrielson, "Memoirs of Ira M . Gabrielson (and What Others Have Said About Him), 1889-1977," unpublished manuscript, NCTC, 298-300. 145 There is little indication that the W R A or the Department of the Interior consulted with the FWS before building the camp beside the Tule Lake Refuge. J. Clark Salyer II, the FWS director of the Division of Refuges, was furious about the placement of the camp, saying that the agreement struck between the War Relocation Authority and the Bureau of Reclamation reduced the FWS to "the role of an innocent bystander." Even though the camp was built away from the refuge, Salyer worried that hunters might lose access to the hunting areas near the camp on the refuge's public shooting grounds. There was also the possibility that the War Relocation Authority might build additions to the internment camp on the refuge itself.53 From the Bureau of Reclamation's perspective, the lands where the camp was located were not yet private property, but lands leased to farmers on the Klamath Project. The agency had little problem terminating these leases since the W R A claimed these internment camps were needed for national security. To the W R A , these lands were an attractive location to place a camp for many reasons: they were relatively isolated, far from the Pacific Coast, and crucially, the federal government already owned them. The W R A could use the lands to construct a camp without purchasing the property from 3 J. Clark Salyer II to Regional Director Leo L . Laythe, 3 June 1942, "Tule Lake, 1934-1944," Bureau of Biological Survey General Correspondence, 1890-1956, R G 22, N A R A - C P . 5 3 Chas. E. Jackson, Acting Director, to William Finley, 24 June 1942, "Tule Lake, 1934-1944," Bureau of Biological Survey General Correspondence, 1890-1956, R G 22, N A R A - C P . 146 private owners. The agreement between the bureau and the W R A showed almost a complete disregard for the refuge or the wildlife that depended on those lands.5 4 While the W R A did not use the Tule Lake Refuge for the camp, it did start a farming program on the refuge. Salyer worried that FWS could not protect waterfowl that used the areas where internees grew crops, and that the birds would devour many of the grains and vegetables they planted. He accused the Japanese internees of harassing geese and ducks by driving trucks through flocks of waterfowl and harvesting waterfowl illegally using fishhooks baited with food to capture the birds. Salyer also felt that the W R A wasted much of the vegetables internees grew on the refuge by allowing potatoes and lettuce to freeze in the fields while boxcars of food were delivered to the Tule Lake Camp. In his letters to Ira Gabrielson and other FWS officials, Salyer revealed that he shared the suspicions of Japanese-Americans held by many Americans during the war. He considered the internment camp a menace to the refuge. He likened the Tule Lake Refuge to a group of American soldiers held in captivity by the Japanese, and claimed that the W R A had little control over the internees. Passes to leave the camp were easily obtained, and while working in the fields, the internees pestered waterfowl and made bird management difficult. Unless the internees were controlled, Salyer argued, the credibility See "Memorandum of Understanding Between the Director of the War Relocation Authority and the Secretary of the Interior," undated (internal evidence suggests April 1942), "Tule Lake, 1934-1944," Bureau of Biological Survey General Correspondence, 1890-1956, R G 22, N A R A - C P . 147 of the FWS would suffer among sport hunters who would criticize the agency for failing to protect the birds from the "Japs" in the internment camp.5 5 Despite Salyer's concerns, the internment camp and its farming program caused no more damage than the other farming operations on the Tule Lake Refuge during the war. Klamath Project farmers probably would have leased that land if the War Relocation Authority had not done so. It did show, however, the unwillingness of other federal agencies to consult with the FWS before it took action that might affect federal refuges. Over the 1930s, the FWS had established itself as a partner in the use of the basin's water and it had argued for the needs of waterfowl. Once the war began, its views were disregarded as the War Relocation Authority and the Bureau of Reclamation developed a farming program for the Tule Lake Internment Camp. Conclusion During the late 1930s and early 1940s, the U.S. federal government developed viable refuges within the grid of irrigated agriculture in Oregon and California. After decades of haphazard management and the destruction of important bird sanctuaries, the FWS was able to secure water supplies for these protected areas and establish new refuges. Even so, the Bureau of Reclamation and irrigators continued to threaten refuges J. Clark Salyer II to Mr. Day, Mr. Chaney, and Mr. Gardner, Memorandum, 23 Oct. 1942; Dillon to Leo Laythe, Telegram, 13 Nov. 1942; and J. Clark Salyer II to Dr. Gabrielson, Memorandum, 26 Jan. 1943 "Tule Lake, 1934-1944," Bureau of Biological Survey General Correspondence, 1890-1956, Box 152, R G 22, N A R A - C P . 148 by diverting water. The FWS was most successful when its restoration programs complemented the water plans of these groups. As a consequence, federal refuges often became sumps for the wastewater produced by irrigated agriculture. This seemed like a win-win situation for irrigators and bird enthusiasts, but its consequences would become apparent in later decades. If the quantity or quality of irrigated wastewater changed, refuges would suffer. Managing migratory waterfowl was a transnational affair. But international borders were not the most important borders ducks and geese crossed. The border between Canada and the United States was a political border with no ecological significance. The same was true for state and provincial borders. The borders dividing private land from wildlife refuges were a different matter. They often had real ecological consequencs since they divided wetlands from farmland. For some waterfowl, these borders were sharp. Diving ducks such as northern shovelers and canvasbacks fed almost entirely on wetland plants and aquatic insects. For them, farmland was useless as habitat. For other species of waterfowl, the situation was more complicated. Canada geese, snow geese, pintails and other waterfowl devoured grains and crops on farms near refuges. In doing so, waterfowl became trespassers in a private realm. This was a hybrid landscape where the boundaries between domesticated farmland and public wildlife spaces blurred. Mobile forms of nature - water, weeds, and waterfowl - crossed these borders. The grid of private property was supposed to divide individual plots of land from one another and private land from public spaces, but some species crossed these borders with abandon. These border crossings posed the greatest 149 challenges to wildlife managers. Mapping migration was a relatively simple matter compared to managing birds in the irrigated landscape. 150 Figure 3.2: Returns from ducks banded at the Malheur Refuge in central Oregon. Source: Ira N . Gabrielson, Wildlife Refuges (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1943), between pagesl48-49. Figure 3.3: The Pacific Flyway. Source: Frederick C. Lincoln, The Migration of American Birds (New York: Doubleday, Doran & Company, Inc., 1939). 175. 153 Figure 3.4: Regions for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service management. Working with state wildlife agencies, the FWS developed annual hunting regulations for each of the flyways. Source: Albert M . Day, North American Waterfowl (New York: Stackpole and Heck, Inc., 1949), 87. 154 Figure 3.5: The Spalding Ranch, 1937. Record Group 22: Records of the U . S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Box 9 California, N A R A - C P . 155 Figure 3.6: Much of the Sacramento Refuge was barren before the Biological Survey bought the property. This photograph shows a part of the refuge in 1937 before the bureau flooded it. Source: Record Group 22: Records of the U . S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Box 9 California, B-53130, N A R A - C P . 156 Figure 3.7: Draglines were used by the Bureau of Reclamation and irrigation districts to build dikes and canals. The Bureau of Biological Survey also used equipment such as this to construct ponds, straighten creeks, and develop habitats for migratory waterfowl. This photograph shows a dragline at work on the Sacramento Refuge, 1937. Source: Record Group 22: Records of the U . S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Box 9 California, B-52765, N A R A - C P . 157 Figure 3.8: Ross and white-fronted geese in flooded units on the Sacramento Refuge, 1938. Images like the previous two photographs and this one were used to show how engineering could develop new habitat for migratory waterfowl. For instance, see Albert M . Day, North American Waterfowl (New York: Stackpole and Heck, Inc., 1949), 164-66. Source: Record Group 22: Records of the U . S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Box 9 California, B-64-X4, N A R A - C P . 158 Chapter Four Duck Farms World War II was a difficult time for Pacific Flyway refuges. Although the war never reached the continental United States, the refuge system felt its effects just the same. The abundant supply of labor and funds that the FWS had put to good use during the late 1930s disappeared during the war. Many projects remained unfinished. In the Klamath Basin, a tunnel now connected the Tule Lake Refuge and the Lower Klamath Refuge, allowing water to flow into Lower Klamath Lake for the first time in over two decades. On that refuge, and others in the Far West, the FWS had grander plans to make these protected areas into productive habitat for waterfowl. After World War II, the FWS tightened the links between irrigated agriculture and the federal refuges in the West. By the 1940s, reclamation had destroyed most of the wetlands that had cloaked the valleys and basins of the Far West. For the refuges to function, the FWS needed plentiful water to fill ponds and to irrigate the crops it grew for waterfowl. The water that once nourished these wetlands and riparian areas had been allocated long before for other uses. Networks of canals and drains now brought water to irrigated farms, and to obtain needed water the FWS integrated the refuges into this new plumbing system. In effect, the refuges became another unit in the irrigated landscape created by reclamation. Flowing water connected the irrigated fields and the refuges, but there were other links between modern agriculture and refuge management. During the 1940s and 1950s, the FWS adopted the same technologies to manage its refuges that farmers in California and Oregon used. Refuge managers used chemical insecticides and herbicides to 159 safeguard their crops and boost production. Like the commercial wheat and rice that surrounded the refuges, the monocrops grown on the refuges were susceptible to insect pests and weeds, which passed freely between refuges and farms. The FWS found itself in a challenging predicament in the 1940s and 1950s. Irrigated agriculture had destroyed most of the waterfowl habitat in the wintering range, but to save the birds, the FWS believed it had little choice but to transform large portions of the refuges into mirrors of the agricultural landscape. By the 1960s, the FWS moved beyond altering the habitat of migratory waterfowl to modify the tempo of migration itself. Feeding Waterfowl When they were established, the FWS considered protected areas such as the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge to be sanctuaries from overhunting. To attract larger numbers of waterfowl as well as different bird species, the FWS built ponds on the refuge. Even though the service spent most of the late 1930s constructing these ponds with C C C labor, it had only developed 1,800 acres by 1942. As waterfowl populations recovered from their collapse during the previous decade due to improved conditions in the birds' breeding grounds, the Sacramento Refuge had to accommodate more and more ducks and geese.1 It was apparent that the Sacramento Refuge and other federal refuges in the valley did not provide enough aquatic vegetation or cultivated crops for the birds to eat. Without adequate food, the ducks and geese flew to private farms nearby in search of 1 Clinton H . Lostetter, "They've Got to Eat Someplace," in Flyways: Pioneering Waterfowl Management in North America, ed. A.S. Hawkins, R.C. Hanson, H.K. Nelson and H . M . Reeves (Washington, D.C.: The United States Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, 1984), 461-62. 160 food. By the early 1940s, waterfowl and farmers were coming into more frequent conflict as the birds fed in the rice fields. The rising number of waterfowl along the Pacific Flyway contributed to the problem, but the conflict also arose because of changes in the surrounding landscape. In the rice-growing region of the Sacramento Valley, the number of acres in rice production fell from a high of 162,000 in 1920 to 88,000 during the 1930s. Federal officials encouraged rice farmers to grow less rice during most of the depression years, but during World War II, conditions changed. Rice acreage increased dramatically, reaching 192,000 acres by 1942. To satisfy the demand for rice, farmers began cultivating marginal areas. Shortages of labor and machinery due to the war made it challenging to harvest all of the grain. Prices were high for rice, but cultivating it under the conditions imposed by the war put enormous pressures on farmers. The increased production of rice in the Sacramento Valley had a mixed impact on migratory waterfowl. For some ducks such as mallards, pintails, and wood ducks and for all of the geese that wintered in California, rice served as a much needed source of food in a part of the flyway that had once supported extensive wetlands. These birds proved their ability to adapt and utilize this new food source. However, farmers harassed birds that fed in rice fields with shotguns and flares. Sometimes they killed the birds, an illegal 2 Johnson A. Neff, Peter J. Van Huizen, and James C. Savage, "Rice and Ducks in the Sacramento Valley of California, Season of 1942," 28 Jan. 1943 and California Farm Bureau Federation, "Statement of Position of California Farm Bureau Federation on Crop Damage Caused by Migratory Wild Fowl, 27 May 1943, Research Reports, 1912-1951, Records of the Branch of Wildlife Research, R G 22, N A R A - C P , 3. 161 practice, but one that the FWS and California Division of Fish and Game found difficult to stop.3 Many rice growing practices contributed to the problem. Farmers flooded their fields early in the season and drained them before harvesting. In their rush to increase production, farmers often failed to level their fields each year, an expensive practice made even more so because of labor shortages and lack of farm machinery. On the margins of rice fields, depressions often formed between the rice paddies and the checks - small dikes surrounding the shallow water in the fields. The open water such areas provided easy sites where ducks could land and begin eating rice. As the ducks consumed the grain, they created open water in their wake, which attracted yet more waterfowl. Some species were particularly troublesome in this regard. Farmers and FWS biologists noticed that wood ducks were among the most difficult species to frighten. Despite persistent harassment from shooting and explosives, wood ducks often refused to move. Even worse for farmers, wood ducks often left the refuge earlier than other waterfowl each morning to feed in the fields and attracted other ducks. Through their sheer numbers and persistence, waterfowl were a huge problem for California rice farmers.4 The numerous private hunting clubs throughout the Sacramento Valley did little to improve the situation. Duck club 'clusters' developed in areas where waterfowl congregated in the autumn and winter. Seven duck clubs formed one such cluster around the Sacramento Refuge.5 Rice farmers also rented all or parts of these lands at other times 3 E. E. Horn, "The Duck Problem," 6 January 1944, Office Files of Frederick C. Lincoln, 1917-60, Records of the Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife, Records of the Branch of Wildlife Research, R G 22, N A R A - C P . 4 Neff, "Rice and Ducks in the Sacramento Valley," 8-11. 5 Ibid., 13-14. 162 of the year. During the hunting season, club operators partially flooded their land to attract waterfowl. Game regulations prohibited the dispersion of food for birds by gun club owners. Since the clubs only provided water for a few months of the year, these temporary ponds lacked the aquatic plants the birds once found in the marshes and riparian areas in the Sacramento Valley. Open water attracted birds, but once on the clubs, they found little or nothing to eat. Most clubs were either surrounded by rice fields or near them; some clubs even grew rice.6 Rice farmers grew resentful of the FWS and the game policies it enforced. "No attempt should be made to belittle the supreme contempt with which a duck's life is considered in Colusa and adjacent counties," wrote one FWS official in California. "When conditions come to the point where some rice farmers studiously hunt for and destroy all waterfowl nests found in their fields one has reached a climax in anti-conservation."7 Farmers complained that they provided feed for waterfowl that only wealthy sport hunters on duck clubs hunted. There was truth in their accusations. The Sacramento Refuge was not open to hunting, and as of 1942, the state and federal governments had established no public hunting grounds in the Central Valley. Unless they belonged to duck clubs, sport hunters had no place to hunt ducks and geese legally. One rice grower complained that the FWS "pasture their ducks on our rice fields night after night, lie there watching and waiting for market hunters while the ducks eat our rice 6 Ibid., 13-14. 7 Neff, "Rice and Ducks in the Sacramento Valley," 16. Some advocated for the abolishment of the refuges. See NR-SNWR, Sept.-Dec, 1947, 22-23, SNWR-HQ. 163 Q crop..." FWS officials feared that without significant action, the entire waterfowl conservation program in California might collapse. FWS officials in California urged the leaders of the agency to act quickly. They advocated creating more feeding areas for waterfowl, establishing public shooting grounds, and separating hunting clubs from commercial rice growing. Since the creation of the Sacramento Refuge in 1936, the FWS had prohibited hunting on the refuge. The development of ponds and marshes on the Sacramento Refuge successfully attracted more species of waterfowl than the land had previously. Yet the refuges did not provide enough food to prevent them from seeking-out rice on private farms.9 Creating public shooting grounds had less to do with the ecological needs of birds than with improving the public image of the FWS. To save the refuge program in the Central Valley, the FWS needed to quell opposition to the refuges and to develop support (or at least acceptance) for more federal and state refuges in the valley. By making future refuges public shooting grounds rather than inviolate sanctuaries, the FWS hoped to develop more support for the agency throughout California. FWS officials in the valley said that "this project [the refuge program] is closely tied in with the proposal of a land-use policy, and with the operation of feed units, that it can not be longer avoided. It would be the most popular move possible in the Sacramento Valley." 1 0 Future waterfowl Neff, "Rice and Ducks in the Sacramento Valley," 17. The reference to market hunters is unusual, since there is not mention of them in other parts of this report or in the annual reports of the Sacramento Refuge from this period. 9 Horn, "The Duck Problem" and Johnson P. Neff, "Sacramento Valley Rice -Duck Studies," 7 December 1943, Research Reports, 1912-1951, Records of the Branch of Wildlife Research, R G 22, N A R A - C P . 1 0 Neff, "Rice and Ducks in the Sacramento Valley," 46-47. Conservationists and game officials had long worried about restricting public access to hunting lands. For instance, see Aldo Leopold, Game Management, (New York: Scribner's, 1933). 164 refuges in the valley would serve as public hunting grounds and as feed growing operations for ducks and geese. In response to these concerns, the FWS developed a program in the 1940s to lure waterfowl out of the private farms and into the refuges. The FWS had grown crops for waterfowl on the Tule Lake and Sacramento Refuges during the late 1930s, but the onset of the war prevented the service from expanding the program. FWS officials debated whether service personnel should grow the crops or whether the service should hire farmers to share-crop on the refuge. Under the latter arrangement, farmers would harvest part of the crop for themselves and leave the remainder as feed for waterfowl. E. E. Horn doubted that many farmers would agree to share-crop since many of them were struggling to cope with waterfowl on their own lands. Ducks and geese might wipe-out the farmers' share of the grain as well as the grain designated for the birds. Horn predicted that the service would have to undertake the program itself if it hoped to raise sufficient feed for birds. 1 1 New refuges in the Central Valley were established primarily to serve as food-raising areas for waterfowl. In 1944, the FWS leased 800 acres near the town of Colusa and 420 acres in the Sutter By-Pass, upon which the service raised over 24,000 bags of 12 rice. The following year the FWS purchased these properties (and other land nearby) to create the Colusa and Sutter National Wildlife Refuges. The FWS managed the Sacramento Refuge as a mixture of crops, ponds, and natural vegetation. In 1945, it planted 335 acres of barley, 475 acres of rice, and flooded 1,500 acres of ponds and 1 1 Horn, "The Duck Problem." 165 marshes. In 1948, the U.S. Congress passed the Lea Act, which provided funds for the federal government and the State of California to purchase land for waterfowl. The goal was to create small feeding areas throughout the agricultural regions of California to disperse waterfowl. Using funds from the federal and state governments, the California Department of Fish and Game also created refuges (called Waterfowl Management Areas) to raise food for waterfowl. Most of these federal and state refuges were between 2,500 and 8,000 acres. (All of these refuges, except the Sacramento Refuge, were open to hunters.) These refuges amounted to islands within the agricultural landscape of the Central Valley (Figure 4.1).13 At the same time, the FWS expanded its farming program in the Klamath Basin. The service started planting barley for waterfowl in the late 1930s, and increased the acreage under cultivation throughout the war. As on the refuges in the Sacramento Valley, the service farmed some of the land itself and leased refuge land in a share-cropping arrangement with farmers to raise grain. By 1948, the Lower Klamath and Tule Lake refuges produced over 100,000 bushels of grain for waterfowl. About 45 percent of which was grown by the service.14 The farming operation was so successful that the service also shipped grain to other wildlife refuges in the Sacramento, San Joaquin, and 1 2 The Sutter By-Pass was one the main canals of the Sacramento Flood Control Project. Except in times of flood, this canal was mostly dry. To run its farming program, the diverted water from irrigation districts. 1 3 "Waterfowl Pose California Problem," Outdoor California, September 1935, 1, 3; J. Clark Salyer II and Francis G. Gillet, "Federal Refuges," in Waterfowl Tomorrow, ed. Joseph P. Linduska (Washington, D . C : United States Department of the Interior, Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife, Fish and Wildlife Service, 1964), 504; and Albert M . Day, North American Waterfowl (New York: Stackpole and Heck, Inc., 1949), 168, 173. 166 Imperial Valleys to supplement the feed grown there for waterfowl.15 Crops grown on the Tule Lake and Lower Klamath Lake refuges not only supported birds in the Klamath Basin, but throughout California as well. It was possible for ducks and geese to pass through the state while feeding on Klamath Basin grain at each refuge. The FWS relied on the farming program more and more, not only because it needed to feed the growing numbers of waterfowl using Pacific Flyway refuges, but also because of farmers' complaints about depredations. Refuges served a dual function as protected areas and as bait to lure waterfowl away from crops and to hold them until farmers completed their harvest on farms nearby. But segregating the birds from nearby farms proved a challenging task. FWS chief Albert Day got a sense of the circumstances faced by Pacific Flyway waterfowl during a flight over the Sacramento Valley in 1947: The situation from the air was startling. We could see mile after mile of rice fields pointed up by the irrigation ditches and rice checks which wove intricate patterns on the landscape below. But those were privately-owned rice fields. Where was a duck to go if he wanted to get an honest bite without encroaching upon someone's $4.00 per hundred rice?...In more than three hours of flying over this whole section, we saw mighty little for the birds. There were tiny spots of green vegetation on the Colusa and Sutter Federal Refuges, a larger patch as we flew over the Sacramento Refuge, and another small one to the eastward on the state's Grey Lodge Refuge. Interspersed throughout the general area we spotted a few duck clubs where water had been spread in anticipation of the forthcoming hunting season. These represented the sum total of all the places available for birds in the vast level stretch of productive farmland. Everywhere else ducks were about as welcome as grasshoppers.16 1 4 "Summary of Year's Activities," NR-KBNWR, 1944; "Summary of Year's Activities," NR-KBNWR, 1945; "Annual Summary," NR-KBNWR, 1947, 3; "Annual Summary," NR-KBNWR, 1948, 3, KBNWR-HQ. 1 5 The FWS sent six box carloads by rail to these California refuges in 1948. NR-KBNWR, Jan.-March, 1947, 2, KBNWR-HQ and Paul T. Kreager to Regional Director Laythe, 25 July 1945, Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge, F .Y. 1946-49, Wildlife Refuges, 1946-1955, R G 22, NARA-S . 1 6 Day, North American Waterfowl, 170-71. 167 Day's comments point to one of the contradictions created by the destruction of wetlands and development of grain farming in California. Irrigated agriculture and flood control had eliminated most of the marshes on which geese and ducks depended. The new landscape was not necessarily inhospitable to waterfowl. Many species of ducks and geese adapted to feeding on rice and barley. The challenge was to direct waterfowl to grain on refuges while keeping them out of private farms. In order for waterfowl to find the refuges, someone needed to point the way. To do this, refuge staff and farmers experimented with a number of methods. Some farmers used shotguns or flares to scare the birds from their fields. During the early 1940s in the Klamath Basin, they stationed laborers in the fields at night to prevent ducks and geese from devouring crops. To aid the farmers, the FWS developed mortars that projected small explosives into the air above flocks of feeding waterfowl. More often then not, the explosions and harassment shifted the birds to move to someone else's farm. Over time, the birds grew accustomed to the harassment and stopped moving very far. In the Klamath Basin and Imperial Valley, farmers and refuge officials were moderately successful using antiaircraft searchlights to prevent waterfowl from landing in their fields at night. When farmers were vigilant, they could keep birds from destroying at least part of their crops, but if they let their guard down, ducks and geese could wipe-out acres of rice, barley, or lettuce in a matter of hours.17 Aerial herding was the most successful method for directing birds into refuges. Using surplus aircraft acquired from the military after the World War II, FWS pilots swooped in above flocks of waterfowl in grain fields, sometimes dropping grenades 168 among the birds to frighten them into the air. Once the birds were aloft, the pilots herded the ducks and geese like cattle into the refuges.18 FWS director Day marveled at the pilots' skill: It is fascinating to watch a good pilot swoop down on a flock of birds feeding in a rice field, and if they do not flush as a result of the noise, circle back over them and drop a small and noisy but harmless hand grenade in their midst. They come out without further argument and take to the air with loud squawking and beating of wings.. .Maneuvering back and forth in wide sweeps, he manages to keep the fleeing birds ahead of him and guides them toward the refuge. As he pulls away they settle down and soon learn that they are welcome in this particular spot even if they are not wanted elsewhere.19 Even with aerial herding, depredations remained a serious problem in the early 1950s. The numbers of migratory waterfowl was still high at the time. In the Klamath Basin, for instance, up to four million waterfowl rested and fed on Tule Lake Refuge during the peak of the fall migration. It was nearly inevitable that the birds would come into conflict with farmers who were homesteading land nearby or leasing land on the refuges.20 By the late 1940s, depredation control was becoming the primary purpose of new refuges. FWS Flyway Biologist E. E. Horn oversaw the Pacific Flyway refuges and played the most important role in influencing the service's views on mitigating waterfowl crop damage, establishing new refuges, and deciding how the service should develop them. In a report sent to the FWS regional director in Portland, Horn outlined his vision for existing and future refuges in California. A l l refuges needed to have a balance between ponds, marshes, and cultivated areas. Unless the service was willing to 1 7 "Summary of Year's Activities," NR-KBNWR, 1944 and "Annual Summary," NR-KBNWR, 1947, 4, KBNWR-HQ. 1 8 Clinton H. Lostetter, "They've Got to Eat Someplace," 465-67. 1 9 Day, North American Waterfowl, 169. 2 0 NR-KBNWR, Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Sept.-Dec, 1955, 24, KBNWR-HQ. 169 undertake farming programs on the refuges, Horn insisted, there was no point in establishing additional refuges in the Sacramento Valley or in the San Joaquin Valley. "Any creation of ponds without adequate quantity and quality of waterfowl foods to compete with adjacent agricultural crops is most certain to create a worse crop depredation situation than now exists," Horn wrote. "Such an area would only concentrate more birds there without providing adequate food at the critical seasons."21 Horn believed that the state's agricultural industry was too well-organized and profitable to tolerate "crop losses, be they caused by rodent, predation, insect, plant disease, or by migratory birds." 2 2 Given the extreme loss of habitat in California, the service had little choice but to increase its production of grains to lure waterfowl out of private farmland. The FWS adopted many of the same methods and tools used by post-war farmers in California. To reduce costs and dependence on transient labor, rice farming in the state became highly mechanized during the 1940s. Instead of paying a large number of laborers to plant, tend, and harvest rice, farmers employed a smaller number of skilled laborers to operate farm machinery. Farmers used tractors to prepare fields for planting and large-capacity grain combines to harvest mature rice. One of the most important innovations was the use of airplanes to spread fertilizer and rice seeds. Airplanes dispersed ammonium sulphate fertilizer over the rice fields, and after spreading the fertilizer, farmers flooded the fields with two to four inches of water before airplanes 21 E. E. Horn. "Suggested Program - Bird Depredations," Memo to Regional Director, Portland, Oregon, 3 June 1948, California, USFWS - Pacific Region, Wildlife Refuges, 1946-1955, R G 22, NARA-S . 170 spread the seeds. The FWS and share-croppers adopted these techniques on the Sacramento Valley refuges to cultivate rice (Figure 4.2).23 Over the 1950s and 1960s, the farming program hijacked refuge management. Instead of providing habitat and food for a number of species, the FWS concentrated on growing food for a relatively small number of ducks and geese. One refuge official at the Sacramento Refuge commented on this situation in a 1964 annual report: Our importance in preventing crop depredations by waterfowl has caused us to place extra heavy emphasis on habitat requirements for the "problem species", particularly pintail and mallard. In recent years, much work has gone into "marsh rehabilitation"—converting marsh areas of little waterfowl food production (i.e. bulrush-cattail marsh, deep open water areas, etc.) into high production millet pools. This has been necessary and justifiable, but we are fast approaching the point of having almost a monotypic refuge with food and cover for a few species but with nothing left over for many others. Diving ducks, cinnamon teal, wood ducks, and other waterfowl need something besides rice and millet. Herons, egrets, shorebirds, and many land species find their preferred habitats shrinking each year. We should be able to keep these species and still do our job as a depredation unit, but we must start planning now before we find ourselves on a 10,000 acre rice and millet farm, rather than on a wildlife refuge.24 Clearly some refuge staff realized that the rice and other crops being grown did not benefit all species. Indeed, wading birds like herons and egrets ate only aquatic insects, crustaceans, and fish, not grains. Referring to the Sacramento Refuge as a "depredation unit" reveals that the FWS saw the refuge primarily as place to prevent damage to private farms rather than primarily as a sanctuary for a variety of birds. Questioning of the farming program would intensify over the coming decades and would force the FWS to alter its management to benefit more species than just waterfowl. Norris A. Bleyhl, " A History of the Production and Marketing of Rice in California," (Ph.D. diss., University of Minnesota, 1955), 151-53, 175-77, 269-70; Ann Foley Scheuring, A Guidebook to California Agriculture (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983), 116-17; 171 Spraying, Trapping, and Medicating By building ponds, digging canals, and planting crops, refuge managers sought to create an ideal environment for waterfowl. They could not bring back the splendor of the marshes that Finley saw in the Klamath Basin or the seasonal inland sea in the Sacramento Valley, but they did try to foster an environment where waterfowl could thrive. Yet refuge managers could not escape the fact that refuges were part of the irrigated landscape that surrounded them. They depended on water supplied by the same network of canals that nourished nearby farms. Since the refuges were now part of this landscape, they contributed to, and were affected by, a biological exchange of organisms. To achieve their management objectives, refuge managers attempted to control this exchange for their own benefit, as did farmers, who also tried to limit the movement of species to protect their crops. They often saw the refuges as the source of dangerous outbreaks of insect and weed pests. When necessary, they pressured the FWS to use pesticides and herbicides to control these outbreaks, and the agency also used these chemicals to help sustain its farming program. The environmental historian Mark Fiege has coined the term ecological commons to describe the space created when organisms cross human boundaries such as those between refuges and privately owned farmland. Many types of plants and animals moved unimpeded across these borders. Often the solution to such transgressions lay in developing ways to contain plants and animals within designated spaces. In the case of migratory waterfowl, refuge managers grew crops to lure ducks and geese to refuges and NR-SNWR, Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex, 1964, 3-4, SNWR-172 used explosives, flares, and shotguns to frighten birds from private fields. But waterfowl were not the only organisms that farmers and refuge managers sought to control. Weeds like Russian thistle or wild mustard could easily spread from the refuges to nearby fields and vice versa. Also, coyotes that hunted for prey in the refuges sometimes moved into farms and attacked livestock. In addition to being an architect on refuge property, the FWS also acted as a gatekeeper, trying to keep the movement of unwanted organisms within this ecological commons at a manageable level. 2 5 Weeds and insects found in irrigated fields also thrived in the refuges. Often development on the refuges aided the spread of unwanted organisms. Weeds in particular proved a troubling problem. The miles of dikes constructed on the Sacramento and Klamath Basin refuges proved ideal environments for weed dispersal. In a similar way, canals that distributed water throughout the refuges often filled with cattails that inhibited the flow of water. The growth and spread of such plants were more than nuisances; together they undermined the agency's capacity to manage the refuges. Prior to World War II, clearing weeds from these canals was a laborious task. During the 1930s, the Bureau of Biological Survey used machinery such as draglines to remove cattails from irrigation canals, although sometimes this work was done by hand, a labor-intensive and time-consuming process, only feasible during the years when men from the CCC were available (See Figure 3.9).26 HQ. 2 5 On the ecological commons see, Mark Fiege, Irrigated Eden: The Making of an Agricultural Landscape in the American West (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1999), 60-61, 69-73 and "Private Property and Ecological Commons in the American West," in Everyday America: Cultural Landscape Studies after J.B. Jackson, ed. Chris Wilson and Paul Groth, 219-31, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003). 26 NR-SNWR, 1939, SNWR-HQ. 173 The service had already experimented with chemical agents. During the 1920s, the Bureau of Biological Survey, in conjunction with the U.S. Chemical Warfare Service, tested chemicals such as mustard gas, chlorine, and chloropierin (all of which were used in combat during the First World War) on small birds farmers considered pests.27 At that time, the Biological Survey was also involved in research to determine the utility of birds for controlling insects. When the Biological Survey did poison animals, it was usually predators such as coyotes and wolves in the western United States.28 The agency believed that it could use these 'war gases' to prevent the destruction of crops by blackbirds in California's Imperial Valley. Despite their hopes for using such chemical weapons against birds, the researchers found that birds quickly escaped from the poisons before they could take effect.29 In the late 1940s, the FWS routinely sprayed the herbicide 2, 4-D on refuges in the Sacramento Valley, Klamath Basin, and the Harney Basin of eastern Oregon (Figure No doubt, this was part of the Chemical Warfare Service's attempts to find 'peaceful' uses for gases used after World War I. See Edmund P. Russell m, '"Speaking of Annihilation': Mobilizing for War against Human and Insect Enemies," The Journal of American History 82, no. 4 (1996): 1510-1518. 2 8 Matthew D. Evenden, "The Laborers of Nature: Economic Ornithology and the Role of Birds as Agents of Biological Pest Control in North American Agriculture, ca. 1880-1930," Forest & Conservation History 39 (October 1995): 172-83; Thomas R. Dunlap, Saving America's Wildlife (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1988), 38, 76, 112-14; and Donald Worster, Nature's Economy: A History of Ecological Ideas, 2nd ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 263-264. 2 9 E.R. Kalmbach,. "Report on Experiments in the Use of War Gases as Bird Control Agencies, Conducted at the Edgewood, Md. Arsenal of the Chemical Warfare Service," War Gases as Bird Control Agencies [sic], Research Reports, 1912-1951, Records of the Fish and Wildlife Service, 1922-1961, Records of the Branch of Wildlife Research, R G 22, N A R A - C P . 174 4.3). The herbicide was a common tool used by farmers on private lands. Although the herbicide seemed a powerful instrument to control weeds, some refuge managers used it with caution. On the Sacramento Refuge, for instance, refuge managers started applying herbicides on an experimental basis to waterways and plots of land in 1947.31 Many of the new structures constructed on the refuges encouraged the spread of weeds such as Russian thistle and mustard, especially the miles of dikes built by the C C C and FWS. To curb their spread, the FWS also sprayed the dikes with 2, 4-D. 3 2 Even when herbicides killed weeds, they often grew back very quickly. Herbicides had little effect on cattails, one of the most virulent weeds on the refuge. Wildlife officials also worried that herbicides might kill plants eaten by waterfowl. Later in the 1950s, the FWS contracted with the B. F. Goodrich Chemical Company to test other herbicides including VL-600 on -3-3 refuge lands. Many of the lands within the refuges were marginal and already infested with weeds. In a memo distributed in 1949 by the FWS Section of Habitat Improvement, FWS researcher Warren S. Bourn argued that herbicides were needed to bring these lands into Throughout this chapter, I use the terms herbicide in reference to chemicals designed to kill plants; insecticides for chemicals that targeted insects; and pesticides when discussing both types of chemicals. 31 NR-SNWR, Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, 1947, 13, SNWR-HQ. 3 2 NR-SNWR, Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, 1951, 10 and NR-SNWR, Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, 1953, 29, SNWR-HQ. •3-3 Rossalius C. Hanson, Pilot-Biologist, to Regional Director, Portland, Oreg., "Report on Use of Herbicides on Sacramento Refuge," 28 December 1950, and Warren S. Bourn to Regional Director, Portland, Oregon, "Procurement and Use of Herbicides," 31 March 1953, Sacramento, 1945-55, Habitat Improvement, Division of Wildlife Refuges, R G 22, N A R A - C P ; NR-SNWR, Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, May-Aug, 1953, 9, SNWR-HQ. For herbicide use on the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, see Nancy Langston, Where Land and Water Meet: A Western Landscape Transformed (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2003), 106-08 and Figure 7. FWS weed control 175 crop production for waterfowl feed and to limit the spread of weeds from refuges to private farms. He recognized that such spraying might spark controversy and stated that "in no case is the use of 2, 4-D or similar chemicals on refuge areas to be publicized." He feared that a botched spraying of herbicides on refuges might damage private crops and lead to lawsuits against the agency. "The loss of a crop from blight, insects or other causes may conceivably be blamed on 2, 4-D use in the vicinity. Therefore, appropriate secrecy should attend its application on refuge areas." Even at this early date, the FWS realized that new chemicals like 2, 4-D could spread beyond the refuges and lead to complaints against the agency.34 Weeds were a nuisance but did no real damage to dikes. Animals such as muskrats, however, were a more serious problem. Muskrats were common in western marshes before reclamation destroyed the wetlands, and they returned in abundance as the FWS undertook its restoration program. Muskrats benefited waterfowl in some ways. (Canada geese, for instance, build nests on top of muskrat houses.) However, when muskrat populations grew too high, they consumed large amounts of marsh vegetation -food intended for ducks. A more pressing concern was the damage they inflicted on dikes by burrowing into them, creating cavities that eventually collapsed. Sections with dense networks of tunnels could fail and send water flooding into other units.35 efforts were similar to those undertaken by farmers and irrigators. See Fiege, Irrigated Eden, 66-69. 3 4 Warren S. Bourn, "2, 4-D and Its Uses, Memorandum from Dr. Warren S. Bourn," 25 January 1949," Control-General, Wildlife Refuges, 1946-1955, R G 22, N A R A - S . 35 NR-SNWR, Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, Jan.-April., 1949, 12; NR-SNWR, Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, May-Aug., 1949, 4; "Highlights of the Year's Activities," NR-SNWR, Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, 1951, 1, SNWR-176 The FWS tried to keep the muskrat populations in check through an ambitious trapping program. Beginning in the 1930s, the FWS issued permits to trappers to capture muskrats in the Tule Lake and Lower Klamath refuges. The take was commonly 8,000 to 10,000 muskrats per year, though in the 1937-38 season, trappers killed over 16,000 muskrats on the Tule Lake Refuge alone. During the five and half month long trapping season, up to twenty trappers and skinners worked on that refuge and sold the pelts to the Seattle Fur Exchange. The challenge was finding enough trappers to work on the refuges, since the agency required them to pay one-quarter of the price they obtained for the pelts to the F W S . 3 6 To control insect pests, the FWS used the insecticide DDT. The chemical would have lasting consequences for the refuges and for the surrounding environment. Like the herbicide 2, 4-D, DDT was one of a number of pest-fighting chemicals developed during the 1930s and used by the U.S. military during the Second World War. During the Pacific campaign, the military found the insecticide to be effective in controlling lice and HQ. See Guy A. Baldassarre and Eric G. Bolen, Waterfowl Ecology and Management (New York: John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 1994), 202-203, 226, 459-460 and Fiege, Irrigated Eden, 49. 3 6 On the Tule Lake Refuge during World War II, the FWS allowed trappers to use buildings at the former CCC camp nearby to skin the animals and prepare the fur for shipment. This stopped after the federal government turned the facilities into a German prisoner of war camp, and later, into a jail for disruptive Japanese internees from the Tulelake War Relocation Center. Clinton S. Fairchild, Refuge Manager, "Five Year Development Program for the Clear Lake Migratory Bird Refuge, Upper Klamath Wildlife Refuge, Lower Klamath Refuge and the Tule Lake Refuge," (1938), "Five-Year Plan: Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge," Wildlife Refuge Management Plans, 1939-1945, R G 22, N A R A - S , 67-68, 111-113 and "Summary of Year's Activities," NR-KBNWR, 1944, KBNWR-HQ. 3 7 Edmund Russell III, War and Nature: Fighting Humans and Insects with Chemicals from World War I to Silent Spring (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 86. On the development of insecticides during this period, see John H . Perkins, 177 in killing mosquitoes, which carried malaria. By the end of the war, farmers and municipalities were already beginning to use DDT to kill insects that damaged crops or trees in parks, part of a move to bring the war against insects from the battlefield back to the United States. Although DDT was the most well-known of the new insecticides, other chemicals belonging to a group of insecticides known as chlorinated hydrocarbons and TO organophosphates were also widely used by farmers, and eventually, the FWS. The eagerness of the FWS to spray DDT on the refuges is surprising given that the agency was one of first institutions to study the effects of the insecticide on birds and mammals. Analyses conducted during the late 1940s showed that when incorrectly applied, DDT could lead to the immediate deaths of mammals and fish. Such studies suggested that problems with DDT were due to applying incorrect dosages rather than with the chemical itself. Investigators looked for unintended mortalities due to poisoning, not for deaths caused by long-term exposure to the chemical. Researchers at the agency's Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Maryland discovered that DDT could affect the reproduction of birds exposed to the chemicals, even in very small quantities. Other scientists not affiliated with the FWS would later argue that the insecticide had environmental consequences far beyond the insects targeted by spraying programs.39 Farmers used DDT and other chemical insecticides during the early 1950s, and the FWS soon followed their lead. They both considered the new insecticides a cheap and efficient way to control insects that harmed crops. The agency believed that using the Insects, Experts, and the Insecticide Crisis: The Quest for New Pest Management Strategies (New York: Plenum Press, 1982), 3-22. 3 8 Russell, War and Nature, 95-118, 165-175. 178 chemicals would help boost production of grain for waterfowl. However, pressure to use the chemicals also came from farmers, state agricultural agencies, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture all of whom saw the refuges as sources of insect outbreaks. On a number of occasions, regional insect control programs affected the refuges. In 1953, an outbreak of rice leaf miners spread through the rice growing districts in the Sacramento Valley. To bring the outbreak under control, farmers spent $1,200,000 to spray over 200,000 acres with dieldrin, a chlorinated hydrocarbon pesticide similar to DDT. Farmers sprayed rice fields at the refuge edge, and mists from the insecticide drifted on to refuge fields and waterways.40 The FWS also signed agreements with the Department of Agriculture to deal with insect problems in agricultural areas. In 1956, the FWS and the Plant Control Branch of the Department of Agriculture agreed to use DDT and other insecticides to control a grasshopper infestation on the Tule Lake Refuge. The agencies argued that if left unchecked, the insects would cause "serious damage to such croplands as well as to adjacent crops on lands leased to private individuals."4 1 Although in the 1950s scientists did not understand the long-term consequences of exposure to DDT and other insecticides, there were already clear signs that the The federal government supported research into DDT during the 1950s under the direction of the FWS. Thomas R. Dunlap, DDT: Scientists, Citizens, and Public Policy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1981), 76-97. 4 0 Norris A. Bleyhl, "A History of the Production and Marketing of Rice in California" (Ph.D. diss., University of Minnesota, 1955), 182-183 md NR-SNWR, Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, May-Aug., 1953, 5, 9, SNWR- HQ. On the characteristics of the pesticide dieldrin, see, Shirley A.. Briggs and the staff of Rachel Carson Council, Basic Guide to Pesticides: Their Characteristics and Hazards (Washington, D . C : Hemisphere Publishing Corporation, 1992), 134, 212-213. 4 "Memorandum of Understanding Between the U.S. Department of Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Plant Pest Control Branch," 16 Julyl956, NR-KBNWR, Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Sept.-Dec, 1956, 13-14, KBNWR-HQ. 179 chemicals could have serious effects on species not targeted by the spraying. The use of insecticides to kill rice leaf miners by farmers in the Sacramento Valley killed wading birds such as snowy egrets, black-crowned night-herons, and great blue herons on the Sacramento Refuge; refuge staff estimated that up to 10 percent of these birds were lost, as well as some ducks and upland birds.4 2 Richard E. Griffith, chief of the FWS's Section of Habitat Improvement, wrote that this was probably unavoidable given the need to grow rice for ducks and geese: .. .such losses are a calculated risk in the treatment for crop protection. In the case of the refuge rice fields, we will have to accept some slight losses if we are to produce the large amount of grain needed for waterfowl management during the critical harvest season.43 Even worse die-offs occurred on the Tule Lake Refuge. In 1960, refuge personnel noticed hundreds of dead grebes, pelicans, gulls, and egrets - all fish eating birds - within the Lower Klamath and Tule Lake refuges. Analysis of the carcasses revealed that many of the birds contained high levels of the chlorinated hydrocarbon insecticides toxaphene, DDT, and DDD. Of the nearly 360 dead birds refuge staff found, over 200 were white pelicans. FWS scientists suspected that the greater mortality of white pelicans was due to the type of fish they ate. Larger fish tested in the area had much higher concentrations of pesticides than smaller fish. Even more startling was the concentration of pesticides found in the developing eggs of one of the cormorants tested. The female had 2.6 parts The FWS also characterized the loss of fish as "severe." However, refuge officials were unconcerned by this since "the kill was predominantly rough fish and the resultant loss to fishermen was considered not too important." The FWS did not participate in this spraying. NR-SNWR, Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, May-Aug., 1953, 2, 5, 9, SNWR-HQ. 4 3 Richard E. Griffith to Regional Director, Portland, Oregon, 3 July 1953, Sacramento, 1945-55, Habitat Improvement, Division of Wildlife Refuges, R G 22, N A R A - C P . 180 per million of the pesticides. But the developing eggs contained 44 parts per million -nearly seventeen times more than an adult cormorant.44 Such a large die-off of birds on a wildlife refuge was bound to attract attention. Rachel Carson, a former editor and scientist for the FWS, discussed the death of the birds in her indictment of pesticides, Silent Spring. In her rendering, the birds' deaths were the result of insecticides finding their way into canals that carried waste water from private farms into the refuges, not from the application of pesticides by the F W S . 4 5 The omission is puzzling. As a former employee of the FWS she was well aware of how refuges were managed throughout the United States. While working for the agency, Carson authored a series of information booklets called Conservation in Action about important federal refuges in the country. She must have been aware that the FWS used insecticides and herbicides. Yet throughout Silent Spring, Carson portrays the FWS as the investigator of pesticide effects on wildlife and not as a pesticide user.46 The important point is that during the post-war period, the FWS was a leading investigator of the ecological effects of insecticides and herbicides as well as a frequent user of DDT, 2, 4-D, and other pesticides. For the FWS, the spraying of pesticides and herbicides was an important way to achieve its conservation objectives. In order to increase waterfowl production on the refuges, the agency needed to combat anything that 4 4 The results of the laboratory analyses can be found in the Klamath Basin refuges report from the following year. See NR-KBNWR, Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge, May-Aug., 1961, 7-8, 16, KBNWR-HQ. 4 5 Rachel Carson, Silent Spring (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1962; New York: A Fawcett Crest Book, 1969), 49-50. 4 6 Linda Lear discusses Carson's duties and experience working for the Fish and Wildlife Service in Rachel Carson: Witness for Nature (New York: Henry Holdt and Company, 1997), 95-96, 102, 106-111, 132-133, 138-146. 181 interfered with that goal. Insecticides and herbicides were cheap and effective tools for eliminating pests that could damage crops intended as feed for waterfowl. The actions of the agency shows that the 'war against insects' was a tactic of conservation. The FWS responded to the death of fish-eating birds on the Tule Lake Refuge by applying yet more pesticides. The agency did stop using DDT on the Lower Klamath and Tule Lake refuges, but immediately searched for other less harmful pesticides. Refuge managers recognized the potentially devastating consequences of DDT, though not enough to abandon the use of pesticides altogether. In 1963, as in previous years, scores of waterbirds perished on the refuges, and the agency suspected pesticides as the cause. Yet that same year the agency sprayed over a thousand acres on the Tule Lake Refuge with Sevin to control a grasshopper outbreak. It also began testing the effects of other pesticides including Dylox on captive waterfowl and pheasants. While now aware of the potential consequences of some pesticides on wildlife, the agency still needed to control insects that might damage refuge crops or spread to farms beyond.4 7 The corpses of western grebe and white pelican in the marshes of Tule and Lower Klamath refuges vividly demonstrated that modern pesticides could turn sanctuaries into death traps. But natural maladies could take a heavy toll on birds as well. While DDT might kill a few hundred birds a season, avian botulism and cholera could kill thousands of waterfowl in a matter of weeks. Such spectacular die-offs of birds were common even before the development of wildlife refuges. Birds afflicted with botulism became listless 47 NR-KBNWR, Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge, May-Aug, 1963, 9-10 and NR-KBNWR, Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Sept.-Dec.,1963, 11, K B N W R - H Q . The FWS also considered testing the insecticides Dibram, Diazinon, Dipterex, and Methoxychlor, though there is no indication in agency records whether refuge managers and weak, eventually lacking the strength to keep their heads above water and drowning. Avian cholera was even more insidious. Affected birds usually showed no signs of sickness before dying suddenly. Through the early to mid-twentieth century, ornithologists and refuge managers struggled to understand why birds along the Pacific Flyway were so susceptible to these diseases. A great deal of refuge management from the 1940s through the 1960s consisted of devising methods to combat these diseases and prevent their spread.48 Early research on avian botulism focused on identifying the environmental conditions that fostered the disease. Alexander Wetmore, an assistant biologist with Bureau of Biological Survey, was one of the first scientists to investigate what was then known as western duck sickness. During a number of summer seasons between 1913 and 1916 in the marshes around Utah's Great Salt Lake, Wetmore retrieved carcasses and examined birds stricken with duck sickness. Residents told him of a massive die-off of waterfowl in 1910. The number of dead birds at that time "is said to have been almost beyond belief. Dead birds rotting in the sun dotted the water in shallow bays, and long windrows of bodies were blown up on the shorelines and against the rushes."49 Wetmore estimated that an outbreak two years later claimed the lives of nearly 75,000 ducks in the deltas of the Bear River and Weber River which fed into the Great Salt Lake. 5 0 actually did so. See NR-KBNWR, Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge, J an.-April., 1961, 16, KBNWR-HQ. Baldassarre and Bolen, Waterfowl Ecology and Management, 306, 309. 4 9 Henry M Reeves, "Alexander Wetmore," in Flyways: Pioneering Waterfowl Management in North America, ed. A .C . Hawkins, R.C. Hanson, H.K. Nelson and H . M . Reeves (Washington, D.C.: The United States Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, 1984), 75. 5 0 Ibid., 76. 183 The exact cause eluded early researchers such as Wetmore. He concluded that the birds' physical environment was responsible for the disease. While he eliminated a number of possible causes including industrial pollutants and sulphuric acid in springs near the Great Salt Lake, he believed that alkali salts ingested by the birds acted as a toxin. Since duck sickness was most common in marshes lying in the arid parts of the western United States, the alkali salts that accumulated in such environments seemed likely culprits. Later studies demonstrated that while aridity contributed to the spread of the illness, the bacterium Clostridium botulism (more commonly known as botulism) was the source of the disease. The disease spread quickly due to a series of events that often spiraled out of control. First, waterfowl ingested spores containing the toxin (which could lie dormant for years in marshes). After the bird succumbed to the disease, maggots consuming the carcass concentrated the toxin; they were eaten in turn by other ducks and geese. This eventually caused the death of yet more birds whose decomposing bodies served as fertile environments for the disease to spread. Often thousands of birds died in the space of a few weeks before anyone could stop the outbreak.51 Waterfowl faced the threat of botulism before the twentieth century, but environmental changes made it worse. The destruction of waterfowl habitat forced surviving populations of ducks and geese to congregate in small areas of remaining habitat. Overcrowded on small refuges and forced to linger there throughout the wintering season, flocks of birds were highly susceptible to botulism. Droughts, which were all too common in the arid landscapes of Oregon and California, forced birds to congregate on smaller ponds and marshes. Since waterfowl are gregarious by disposition, 5 1 Ibid., 77 and Baldassarre and Bolen, Waterfowl Ecology and Management, 308. 184 epizootics of botulism could devastate birds on a given refuge very quickly. Migrating birds could also carry the toxin to other refuges along the flyway. This situation posed a particularly vexing conundrum for wildlife managers. Wildlife refuges provided rare sanctuary amid landscapes that once contained plentiful wetland habitat. Yet these same refuges crowded the waterfowl unnaturally and left them susceptible to epizootics that could kill thousands of birds at a time. One of the primary means of controlling such outbreaks was to manipulate the water on the refuges even more. Refuge staff learned that botulism thrived in very shallow ponds and marshes, which warmed quickly during the summer months. When an outbreak started in one part of refuge, wildlife managers drained the pool where the afflicted birds congregated hoping that healthy birds would move to other parts of the refuge free of the toxin. Of course, to drain or raise water on command, wildlife managers needed a network of canals to carry water, pumps to move it, and dikes to create ponds. Protecting birds from botulism meant that refuge staff had to regulate water on the refuge even more carefully.53 By the early 1940s, the FWS had medical means to treat sick waterfowl. Wildlife researchers tested an antitoxin for avian botulism at a research station established on the Bear River Refuge in Utah. Refuge personnel captured sick ducks, injected them with a small amount of the antitoxin, and allowed them to recover. This method was very successful, but it required many FWS employees or volunteers to capture the ducks, 5 2 Baldassarre and Bolen, Waterfowl Ecology and Management, 301-304. 5 3 U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife, "Report on Effects of 1959 Water Levels on Wildlife Values and Public and Economic Uses of Tule Lake," 2 December 1959, NR-KBNWR, Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge, 185 administer the medicine, and release them back into the wild. Some refuges actually constructed 'duck hospitals' where FWS officials cared for the sick birds. Not surprisingly, dealing with such outbreaks was a major undertaking. Many refuge personnel were involved in capturing sick birds and burning dead ones. A l l of this distracted refuge managers from other tasks and underscored the importance the FWS placed on controlling the disease.54 In effect, the FWS diligently collected sick birds, nursed them back to health, and released them to be killed by hunters a few weeks later. Its actions exposed one of the ironies of the refuge system: wildlife managers did not save the birds from death. Rather, they changed how the birds died. FWS personnel tried to prevent the unintended deaths of waterfowl by insecticides or avian diseases so the intended deaths by hunters could continue. The FWS mediated life and death on the refuges to meet management objectives. Fulfilling these objectives proved difficult in an environment where natural threats proved as challenging as human ones. 1959, 33-34, and NR-KBNWR, Lower Klamath Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Jan.-April, 1961,2, KBNWR-HQ. 5 4 Wayne I. Jensen and Cecil S. Williams, "Botulism and Fowl Cholera," in Waterfowl Tomorrow, ed. Joseph P. Linduska, 333-41 (Washington, D.C.: United States Department of the Interior, Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife, Fish and Wildlife Service, 1964); E.R. Quorturup and R.L. Sudheimer, "Field Notes on Botulism, Bear River Refuge, Utah, Season 1942," 12 December 1942, Research Reports, 1912-1951, Records of the Branch of Wildlife Research, R G 22, N A R A - C P ; E. R. Quortrup, "The Value of Antitoxin in the Treatment of Ducks Afflicted with Botulism," 11 December 1943 and "Memorandum for Regional Directors and Project Leaders Concerned with Botulism, Use of Antitoxin for Birds Afflicted with Botulism," 20 May 1944, Research Reports, 1912-1951, Records of the Branch of Wildlife Research, R G 22, N A R A - C P ; Bi l l Jenkins, "Tulelake Duck Hospital Saves Botulism Victims," Herald and News (Klamath Falls, Oregon), 31 August 1949, 15. 186 Directing the Flow - the Klamath Basin Refuges and the Kuchel Act While the FWS coped with the effects of pesticides and avian diseases, it also dealt with a new round of water conflicts with irrigators. In 1956, control over the irrigation structures and management of the water supply within the Tule Lake area passed to the Tulelake Irrigation District (TID). On all Bureau of Reclamation projects, homesteaders were expected to form private irrigation districts once the agency had built the major water control structures in an area. The district charged the farmers fees to deliver water, and these funds were used to maintain dams, canals, and pumps. Refuge managers on Tule Lake soon learned that the newly formed Tulelake Irrigation District could be just as difficult to deal with as the Bureau of Reclamation. The FWS realized that it needed assurances that the TID that would still provide the water it needed to manage the refuge for migratory waterfowl. When signing the agreement to form the irrigation district, the Department of the Interior insisted that the TID maintain water levels requested by the FWS in the Tule Lake Refuge sumps. There 'were a number of reasons for establishing specific water levels. During the summer, the FWS wanted levels to remain low enough to avoid flooding goose and duck nests. In the autumn, the FWS needed higher water levels so hunters could easily reach the sumps with their boats and so that hunters' dogs could retrieve birds that fell into the water. Throughout the late summer and early fall, the FWS also wanted to make sure that enough water was in the sump to prevent the spread of botulism.5 5 U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife, "Report on Effects of 1959 Water Levels on Wildlife Values and Public and Economic Uses of Tule Lake," 2 December 1959, NR-KBNWR, Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Sept. - Dec., 1959, 24, KBNWR-HQ. 187 The TLD soon failed to abide by the agreement. In 1959, the water levels were too high during the summer and flooded waterfowl nests. The previous winter, the TID lowered the level of the sump two feet below what the FWS requested, which may have contributed to the spread of an outbreak of fowl cholera that killed over four hundred birds. These water levels adversely affected the birds, but when the TLD kept the water levels so low in the fall of 1959 that hunters could not launch their boats, and vast mud flats formed on the margins of the shrinking lake, there was a huge outcry. Hunters were unwilling to venture into the quagmire. They also killed fewer birds that year. Their poor success infuriated hunters throughout California who visited the basin each year, and their complaints were heard in FWS offices, congressional offices, and regional newspapers. Hunters alleged that the TED was destroying the best public hunting grounds in the state.56 Poor water management was not the only threat to the refuges. During the late 1950s, the Bureau of Reclamation renewed its effort to open the Tule Lake Refuge for homesteading. Why it tried to do so is unclear. Much of the refuge was already open for farmers to lease; establishing homesteads within the refuge would bring no new land into production. While it had little success persuading Congress to allow homesteading on the refuge, it did manage to raise the attention of sport hunters and other bird enthusiasts who saw it as another threat to the important refuge. 5 6 Ibid., 27-32. See also Jack Curnow, "Someone Must Know Answers," Los Angeles Times, 30 October 1959. John D. Chambliss to Asst. Executive Director, Ducks Unlimited, 1 Nov. 1959; Lawrence J. Durkin, Executive Secretary, Ducks Unlimited to Daniel H . Janzen, Director, Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife, 17 Nov. 1959; Crawford F. Carter to Sen. Thomas H. Kuchel, 17 Dec. 1959; J. Allen Bray to Fred A. Seaton, 21 Dec. 1959, Ross Leffler, Asst. Secretary of the Interior to J. Allen Bray, 13 188 In 1963, Senator Thomas H . Kuchel of California introduced a bill to protect the Klamath Basin refuges from homesteading and to allow the lease-farming arrangement to continue. It ensured that farmers could continue leasing land within the refuge, defined the area they could lease, and established water levels for the Tule Lake sumps. In some respects, the bill simply restated what the Bureau of Reclamation, the FWS, and the Tulelake Irrigation District had agreed to in 1956. But it went further by assigning specific acreages to agricultural areas and to the Tule Lake sumps.57 By this time, the TID realized that it had to alter its management of the sumps within the Tule Lake Refuge. At the hearings regarding the bill, representatives from the district worried that the needs of farmers there were not being considered. Lester M . Cushman, vice president of the TID, said, "the conflict which has arisen is caused by the fact that those who want to protect the migratory waterfowl intend to do so without CO regard to the cost to the farmers and people of the area." Migratory waterfowl used private farmland, too, he said, and agricultural areas provided important habitat and feed for the birds. Since the sumps served as a place to divert excess irrigation water, he worried that the water levels established by the act might limit the ability of irrigators to handle floods. A flood in 1962, for instance, nearly breached the dikes surrounding the two sumps before the TID could release water into an uncultivated area of the district. Jan. 1960, Tule Lake, 1945-1960, Reservations, Bureau of Biological Survey General Correspondence, RG-22, N A R A - C P . 5 7 U.S. Congress, Senate, Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs, Hearing Before the Subcommittee on Irrigation and Reclamation of the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs, 784 and S. 793 Bills to Promote the Conservation of Migratory Waterfowl and Wildlife Resources in the Tule Lake, Klamath, and Clear Lake National Wildlife Refuges in Oregon and California, 88 t h Cong., 1 s t Sess., 24 April 1963. 5 8 Ibid., 89. 189 The TDD feared that managing the refuges primarily for migratory waterfowl might undermine the district's ability to sustain an agricultural economy in the Tule Lake area.59 Throughout the hearings, members from the Klamath Basin's agricultural community insisted on the primacy of farming within the region. The states of Oregon and California gave lands within the area to the federal government for reclamation, and during the past half-a-century, the Bureau of Reclamation had transformed the hydrology of the basin. The executive orders establishing the basin refuges recognized that the lands within the basin were to be used primarily for agriculture. At every opportunity, the TDD and its supporters pointed out the need to place agricultural interest needs first.6 0 Conservationists stressed the importance of the Klamath Basin for waterfowl along the Pacific Flyway. They also emphasized that further diminishing the basin's waterfowl habitat and crops would mean the earlier arrival of ducks and geese in the agricultural areas of the Sacramento and Imperial Valleys. Losing the refuges of the Klamath Basin would worsen the problem of depredations in other parts of California, which by the early 1960s, was largely under control. In effect, the Klamath Basin would serve as a temporary holding pen for ducks and geese until farmers completed their harvest elsewhere in California.6 1 3 y Ibid., 89-93. 6 0 See the testimony of Tulelake Irrigation District lawyer Alvin Landis, Ibid., 83-86, 95-96. 6 1 It is unclear whether farmers in the Sacramento and Imperial valleys saw this as a major problem. No farming organization from these areas spoke during the hearing for the bill or submitted letters to the sub-committee considering it. See Ibid., contents, 101-02; Daniel A Poole, "Crossroads for Western Waterfowl," National Parks Magazine, March 1961, 4-7; Statement of Stewart L . Udall, Secretary of the Interior, on S. 1988 (Kuchel Act) to the Subcommittee on Irrigation and Reclamation, Interior and Insular Affairs, U.S. Senate, February 23, 1962," Historical Files, K B N W R - H Q . 190 Congress passed the Kuchel Act in 1964, which ended the threat of homesteading by allowing farmers to continue leasing land on the refuges under the condition that farming not interfere with waterfowl management.62 The attempt by the Bureau of Reclamation and farmers to allow further homesteading failed, but not just because of opposition by sport hunters and bird enthusiasts concerned about the welfare of migratory waterfowl. The conflicts over migratory waterfowl in California during the mid-twentieth century demonstrate that wildlife managers were not the only ones using the flyway concept. Once conservationists and California farmers realized that ducks and geese traveled along an identifiable route, they tried to adjust the rhythm of migration for their own benefit. Sport hunters and bird protectionists supported these efforts since it helped to sustain the birds they enjoyed to hunt or view. The fate of the waterfowl lay between these groups as the FWS and state wildlife agencies manipulated the habitat that birds depended on for survival. Refuges, Public Hunting, and the End of the Sanctuary Ideal In the two decades after the Second World War, the number of hunters using the refuges increased dramatically. During the war, government restrictions on the purchasing of ammunition, the rationing of gasoline, and the drafting of many men into the military meant that fewer people were able to hunt waterfowl. After the war ended, hunters returned to the Klamath Basin and Sacramento Valley to hunt ducks and geese; in 1946, two to three times as many hunters visited the Klamath Basin refuges as had come Kuchel Act, Public Law 88-567, 88m Cong., 2 September 1964. 191 the previous year. With greater leisure time and disposable income, more people were able to afford to hunt and to make the trip from coastal cities to these interior hunting grounds. Having survived the war on limited budgets and reduced staff, the FWS was unprepared for the mass of hunters that descended on the refuges.63 The growing number of hunters had important ramifications for the Klamath Basin refuges, which collectively formed the largest public waterfowl hunting area in the West Coast states. Two thousand hunters came to the basin refuges for the opening weekend in 1948, and the following year the number of hunters increased to nearly 4,500. Almost half of the hunters came from northern California, but 20 percent traveled from central California and 29 percent from southern California. The distance these visitors traveled is some indication of the value of the Klamath Basin refuges to sport hunters. Despite the reflooding of Lower Klamath Lake, most of these visitors still hunted on the Tule Lake Refuge, though this would change over the next decade.64 In reports from this time, refuge staff noted that they felt overwhelmed by the number of people coming to the basin. A 1955 report depicts the pandemonium of opening day on the Tule Lake Refuge: ....1,100 were in the marsh and 900 in the fields...As these modern Hiawathas stealthily stalked their game they got in each others way, shot high, shot early and turned birds back in before they came over the line, squabbled, bickered, drove cars up to the blinds and parked them there, wandered all over the place, drove " "Annual Summary," NR-KBNWR, 1947, 4, K B N W R - H Q . National parks experienced a similar surge in use immediately following the war. See Richard West Sellars, Preserving Nature in the National Parks: A History (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997), 173. 6 4 NR-KBNWR, Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Sept.-Dec.,1949, 12-14 and NR-KBNWR, Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge, Sept-Dec, 1949, 9-11, K B N W R -HQ. Records from this era show that very few women hunted on the Klamath Basin refuges. Only 8 to 12 percent of hunters were women. NR-KBNWR, Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Sept.-Dec, 1953, 40, KBNWR-HQ. 192 back and forth across the firing line, refused to honor others shots and kills.. .One enterprising nimrod drove the front wheels of his convertible up on the embankment.. .let down the top, broke open a case of beer, lit his stogie, and scanned the sky for geese.65 Refuge staff described a similar scene on Lower Klamath Refuge as hunters chased waterfowl from one grain field to another. Hunters at a firing line dividing areas open and closed to hunting shot indiscriminately at the passing birds. "The crippling loss was staggering as the birds circled overhead just within gun range. Unable to cross the borrow ditch because of it being too deep or poorly equipped for waterfowl hunting, hunters shot to be killing. Others just as kill crazy were too lazy to walk to places where the ditch could be crossed." A l l told, the 19,111 hunters on the two refuges killed over 20,000 geese and nearly 60,000 ducks.6 6 Increasingly in the 1950s and 1960s, hunters expected the FWS and the California Department of Fish and Game to serve their needs. Most of the hunters using the Klamath Basin Refuges were unaffiliated with gun clubs. These were referred to by the wildlife agencies as 'unattached hunters'. Even though the federal and state government refuges established during this time all allowed hunting, hunters demanded more areas for public shooting. The only protected area that did not allow hunting was the Sacramento Refuge. Bird protection groups like the National Audubon Society had long insisted that this refuge served as a valuable sanctuary where birds could retreat from the guns of duck and goose hunters. Many California sport hunters, however, expected federal and state M NR-KBNWR Tule Lake Refuge, Sept-Dec, 1955, 24-25, K B N W R - H Q . 6 6 The FWS calculated these totals through hunter surveys. The actual number killed or crippled by hunters was likely far greater. NR-KBNWR, Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Sept.-Dec., 1955, 25 and NR-KBNWR, Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge, Sept.-Dec, 1955, 25, K B M N W R - H Q . 193 agencies not only to sustain waterfowl numbers but also to open the greatest number of areas to hunters unaffiliated with private clubs. As pressure to open the refuge began to build in the early 1960s, the FWS officials on the refuges, in the regional headquarters in Portland, and in the national headquarters in Washington, D.C. debated what stand to take. The California Department of Fish and Game was an enthusiastic proponent of opening the refuge, saying that the need for "public shooting areas in this State are very great."67 Federal FWS officials in Washington were sympathetic to this argument, but they worried about the response by conservationists nationwide. "In the interest of the national waterfowl program we cannot disregard the fact that the Sacramento is a symbol of waterfowl preservation in the minds of conservationists throughout the United States," wrote Lansing A. Parker, the agency's acting director. Opening the refuge might hurt relations with national conservation organizations on whose support the FWS depended if it hoped to prevent homesteading on the Klamath Basin refuges. Though opening the Sacramento Refuge might help the waterfowl refuge program in California, it jeopardized support for other FWS efforts in the Klamath Basin and elsewhere.68 The FWS regional headquarters in Portland concurred with the California Department of Fish and Game. Regional Director Paul T. Quick urged the FWS to reconsider its opposition. Public hunting opportunities were disappearing throughout the state, leading to diminishing interest in duck and goose hunting. "We are rapidly losing Walter T. Shannon, Director - California Department of Fish and Game to Daniel H . Janzen, Director - Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife, 13 August 1963, Historical Files, SNWR-HQ. 6 8 Lansing A. Parker to Walter T. Shannon, 9 September 1963, Historical Files, SNWR-HQ. 194 public support for the Bureau's land acquisition program because of decreasing opportunities for public participation in waterfowl hunting," said Quick. "There is inescapable evidence that the majority of waterfowl hunters are old-timers and there is an obvious shortage of new recruits. Duck hunting is definitely a specialized and comparatively costly sport and unless there is a reasonable opportunity for a man to hunt with some degree of satisfaction, the incentive for purchasing a duck stamp is lacking." 6 9 Since duck stamp revenues were still one of the primary ways the FWS funded refuge acquisition, the long-term consequences of declining numbers of hunters in California and elsewhere was clear. Maintaining support for more refuges depended on satisfying the needs of sport hunters. Not all waterfowl hunters shared the views of the California wildlife agency or the FWS's regional officials. Duck club owners near the refuge were generally against the opening. Hunting clubs were common in the Central Valley; over 200 clubs were 10 found within fifty miles of the Sacramento Refuge. Club owners feared that hunters on the Sacramento Refuge would scare birds away from the vicinity and reduce the number of birds flying over club lands. In a letter to J. Clark Salyer II (now a wildlife consultant for the FWS), Dr. Everett D. Ivey, a physician and club owner from Oakland, California, laid out his concerns about the proposal: I hope to at least indicate to some degree the great personal damage which will incur to my large investments and that to other neighboring clubs as well, if there is adjacent public shooting. And I am sure you know, after a few shots, and with public shooters running wild, wildfowl will largely disappear. At least that is our experience, on our property, despite the fact that our hunters have blinds, and also 6 9 Paul T. Quick to The Director, Washington, D . C , 11 April 1963, Historical Files, SNWR-HQ. 7 0 "Reasons for and Against Keeping the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Closed to Hunting," Historical Files, SNWR-HQ. 195 despite the fact that we quickly eliminate shooters who are uncontrolled in manner of hunting.71 Ivey's comments suggest that he saw 'unattached' hunters as undisciplined sportsmen who would lower the value of his land and compromise the hunting experiences of club members. Other landowners who hunted on their land or leased it to others for the same purpose also worried that permitting shooting on the refuge would reduce the number of birds crossing their land. It was precisely such an arrangement (a wildlife sanctuary surrounded by private hunting lands) that the California Department of Fish and Game and its supporters wanted to disrupt by pressuring the FWS to allow hunting on the Sacramento Refuge.72 Bird protectionist groups such as the National Audubon Society and even the Wildlife Management Institute, a conservation group often supportive of hunting, opposed hunting on the refuge. They still saw the Sacramento Refuge as a sanctuary to which birds could retreat from a hostile countryside where hunters abounded. Former FWS chief and institute president Ira Gabrielson felt that the service was going "over board" to provide more public shooting areas for California hunters when it was under no obligation to do so. The FWS was required to protect the waterfowl under the provisions of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and nothing more. In the view of Carl Buchheister, president of the National Audubon Society, the FWS was just capitulating to the demands 7 1 Everett D. Ivey to J. Clark Salyer II, 5 May 1962, Historical Files, SNWR-HQ. See also J. Clark Salyer II to Dr. Everett D. Ivey, 1 June 1962, Historical Files, SNWR-HQ. 7 2 Emmet Main, President, Willow Creek Mutual Water Company to Director Daniel H . Janzen, Director, Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife, 3 August 1964, Historical Files, SNWR-HQ. The FWS comments on opposition by private hunting clubs in Richard E. Griffith to Director, Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife, 27 March 1964, Historical Files, SNWR-HQ, 2. 196 of the California Department of Fish and Game. Abandoning the sanctuary ideal was not the answer. Public shooting was allowed on the Sutter and the Colusa federal refuges as well as the Delevan National Wildlife Refuge, a new area acquired near the Sacramento Refuge in 1963 (Figure 4.4). In the view of the Audubon Society, the FWS and California Department of Fish and Game had provided enough hunting places for people who were unaffiliated with shooting clubs.7 3 The opposition of these organizations and other groups did not sway the FWS or the Secretary of the Interior. In September 1964, the secretary approved the opening of 40 percent of the refuge to hunting, the maximum percentage allowed under the amended Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp Act . 7 4 The act came just in time to enable hunters to use the refuge in the fall of 1964. Over 8,500 shooters hunted on the refuge during the first season. Hunters along the refuge's western edge shot at waterfowl flying into the refuge, often disrupting traffic as they chased wounded and dead ducks and geese that fell in the highway bordering the refuge. With the opening, the Sacramento Refuge became a public Ira N . Gabrielson to Daniel H. Janzen, 26 August 1964; Janzen to Gabrielson, 21 September 1964; Carl W. Buchheister to Janzen, 10 July 1964; Janzen to Buchheister, 21 August 1964, Historical Files, SNWR-HQ. Devereux Butcher, author of a popular book about the national wildlife refuges, also opposed allowing hunting on the refuge. Devereux Butcher to Stewart Udall, Secretary of the Interior, 21 July 1964 and Udall to Butcher, 21 August 1964, Historical Files, SNWR-HQ. 7 4 Since the passage of the Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp Act (commonly know as the Duck Stamp Act) in 1934, Congress had amended the act two times, in 1949 and 1958. The first amendment allowed the Secretary of the Interior to open up to 20 percent of refuges to hunting; the second amendment allowed up to 40 percent. Critics of these amendments noted that many parts of refuges were unfit for waterfowl. Allowing hunting on two-fifths of a refuge might encompass most or all of the duck and goose habitat. This did not happen on the Sacramento Refuge. While much of the refuge was uplands and of little use to waterfowl, the FWS did not just open the best areas to hunters. The northern part of the refuges, which had marshes, ponds and rice fields was still closed to hunters. See Daniel H . Janzen, Director, Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife to Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife, 20 July 1964, Historical Files, SNWR-HQ. 197 hunting ground like the other federal and state refuges in California. The sanctuary ideal was dead.75 Conclusion The decision to permit hunting on the Sacramento Refuge was the culminating act of the post-war effort to create more spaces for public hunting in California. Refuges had gone from being sanctuaries with natural vegetation to support waterfowl, to depredation control units open to hunters unable or unwilling to join private hunting clubs. The dispute over permitting hunting on the refuge showed that differences among hunters mattered. Although waterfowl hunting was by no means a poor person's sport, there were class divisions among the hunters. To ensure support for their agencies, the California Department of Fish and Game and the FWS catered to 'unattached' hunters who, after all, bought most of the hunting licenses and duck stamps that funded the agencies and the acquisition of new refuges. The geography of Pacific Flyway refuges (at least in the wintering range) was the result of government responding to the demands of sport hunters unaffiliated with clubs and farmers seeking depredation relief. Bird watchers and other non-consumptive users of wildlife were growing in numbers, but their influence over FWS policies was minimal. In the early 1960s, sport hunters and grain farmers were the only constituency to which the agency paid close attention. Though it appreciated the support of non-hunting oriented conservation groups like the National Audubon Society and Wilderness Society, NR-SNWR, Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, 1964, 26, SNWR-HQ. 198 it did not seriously consider the views of these organizations when making FWS refuge policy. Hunters and farmers near refuges were concerned mostly with ducks and geese -either because they were game birds or because they threatened crops. Other birds that depended on refuges such as egrets, herons, red-winged blackbirds or non-avian species such as amphibians, fish, and mammals received little attention. Some species like muskrats were the subject of aggressive trapping programs since by burrowing into dikes they threatened the ability of the FWS to manage water for the benefit of ducks. The FWS lacked a broader vision of the refuges' landscape that included game and non-game animals. The FWS may have cared for other species, but this concern rarely manifested itself in refuge management. As refuge officials noted in their own reports, the single-minded pursuit of raising feed for a few species of ducks and geese left many other animals out of the picture. What was good for waterfowl was not necessarily good for the other species. 199 i_o«r«r Klamath N WR (Fed.) -Dear Lake N W R (Fed.) -Tule Lone (Fed ) -Madeline w.M A (State) -HoneyLoke W M A (State) •Socramento N V»R (Fed ) -Gray i T d « e W M A (State! Coluso N W R (Fed) -Sutler N W R. (Fed ) prSuisun W.M A. (State) ^ iGnziiy island w M A (Stote) Napa Marshes (Leased) Son Luis Waste«oy (State (Fed Bur of Reclamation) Merced (Fed ) Los eanos W M A (State) MendotaW MA.(State) Colorodo River (State Proposed) Salton Seo N.W. R. (Fed.) imperial \M M A (Sfate)-imperial N W R (Fed.)' • W o f e r f o w Management Areas - Cal i fornia Major Agricultural Areas Af fected by Waterfowl Depredat ions Figure 4.1: Federal refuges and state waterfowl management areas in California, 1955. Source: "Waterfowl Pose California Problem," Outdoor California, September 1955,6. Figure 4.2: Aerial rice seeding, Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, 1947. Source: Group 22: Records of the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, California, B-63364, N A R A - C P . 201 Figure 4.3 Experimental testing of the herbicide 2, 4-D on tules, Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, 1947. Source: Group 22: Records of the U . S. Fish and Wildlife Service, B-63361, N A R A - C P . 202 SACI^MEKTO NATIONAL ^VILDLIFE REFUGE COMPLEX f) 3 10 KJII Figure 4.4: National wildlife refuges in the Sacramento Valley, 2003. This map shows the refuges acquired by the FWS by 1963 (Sacramento, Colusa, Delevan and Sutter), as well as ones that were created in later years (Butte Sink and Sacramento River). Source: Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex web site, <>. 203 204 Chapter Five Refuges in Conflict: the Pacific Flyway in the Environmental Era "In low places consequences collect. — William deBuys, Salt Dreams Between the end of the Second World War and the mid-1960s, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service learned the limits of its capacity to manage the waterfowl of the Pacific Flyway. Local opposition, water availability, and recalcitrant birds hampered its ambition to manage migration as a continental system. Since the FWS had minimal control over the amount or the quality of water flowing into the refuges, it remained vulnerable to the demands of farmers who had preferential access to irrigation water. Despite these challenges, the FWS was able to carve-out space in the irrigated countryside for wildlife refuges. The passage of the Kuchel Act in 1964 forced farmers in the Klamath Basin to accept the continuing presence of the Lower Klamath and Tule Lake refuges in their midst. After over a half-century of conflicts with the Bureau of Reclamation and Klamath Project farmers, the homesteading threat was over. Despite their original opposition to the refuges, Klamath Basin farmers had now to accept their presence, albeit grudgingly. Debate over expanding the refuge system in the Sacramento Valley had also abated. By growing crops for waterfowl, the FWS had placated farmers who considered migrating ducks and geese a menace to their operations. In the process, wildlife refuges came to resemble the surrounding farms and became intimately connected with the 1 William deBuys and Joan Meyers, Salt Dreams: Land and Water in Low-Down California (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1999), 3, 223. 205 irrigated countryside. With feed now grown on refuges and farmers harvesting most of their crops before birds arrived in the fall, waterfowl were less likely to roam into farmers' fields seeking food. Yet as the previous chapter shows, connecting the refuges to the irrigated countryside in the Sacramento Valley and Klamath Basin came with a price. Refuge managers came to rely more on the agricultural practices and chemicals that characterized post-war agriculture. Farms and refuges increasingly resembled organic machines designed to boost crop and waterfowl production. Supporters of the refuges and the U . S. Fish and Wildlife Service were more or less united in their conviction that the primary function of these refuges was to support the millions of waterfowl that migrated through the Far West and to ensure that West Coast duck and goose hunters could still enjoy their sport. In her book Where Land and Water Meet, a study of the management of riparian areas and wildlife refuges in the Malheur Basin of eastern Oregon, Nancy Langston writes that refuge officials in the 1940s and 1950s sought to build "an empire of nature, a world aimed at increasing waterfowl production." Refuge officials elsewhere along the flyway shared this attitude. Langston does not see this as a consequence of blind faith in engineering, but as a response to crashing waterfowl populations during the 1930s. In the midst of this disaster, refuge staff needed to devise creative ways to supply refuges with water. The numbers of ducks and geese increased in the 1940s, and this seemed to confirm that the FWS's 2 Richard White, The Organic Machine: The Remaking of the Columbia River (New York: Hi l l and Wang, 1995). 3 Nancy Langston, Where Land and Water Meet: A Western Landscape Transformed (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2003), 91. 206 management approach was effective (the FWS counted over 3.5 million waterfowl during the 1950s and 1960s).4 This consensus began disintegrating in the 1970s. Like other federal areas in the western United States, wildlife refuges became contentious sites that were drawn into the wider debate over the purpose of public lands.5 Disputes between refuge officials and their supporters on the one hand and irrigators on the other became multi-faceted conflicts among the FWS, the Bureau of Reclamation, farmers, environmentalists, and Indian tribes. The environmental movement fractured the consensus over the purpose of the wildlife refuges and challenged the heavy-handed approach that had characterized refuge management for decades. Native groups including the Klamath Tribes - whom the Bureau of Reclamation and the FWS had never consulted when managing the lakes and marshes within their territory - now used their growing legal power to pressure the federal government to manage water in the Klamath Basin with their interests in mind. The claims made on the refuges by various social groups forced the FWS to reconsider its management practices. Contrasting visions made managing the refuges more challenging and more contentious. This chapter examines the consequences of three important developments - the breakdown in consensus, the implementation of the Endangered Species Act, and changing water policy in Oregon and California - on Pacific Flyway refuges. As the irrigators' power waned and the water that they once claimed was reallocated, wildlife 4 Integrated Land Management Working Group, "Integrated Land Management on Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge," 30 October 2000, K B N W R - H Q , 5, 8. 5 Richard White analyzes the breakdown of consensus over public lands management in "Contested Terrain: The Business of Land in the American West," in Land in the American West: Private Claims and the Common Good, ed. William G. Robbins and James C Foster, 190-206 (Seattle: University of Washington, 2000). 207 refuges were affected. . Farmers dependent on federally subsidized irrigation water have faced a number of threats over the past two decades. These threats have come from a number of regulatory and political changes. Legislation to protect endangered fish species has meant that more water must remain in the rivers of California and Oregon. Closer to the present, cities like San Diego as well as municipalities in northern California increasingly seek to transfer water now used for agricultural to urban uses. Farmers dependent on this water have fought this reallocation to ensure the profitability (sometimes the survival) of their operations. Lost in most of these debates over the protection of endangered fish or the transfer of water to metropolitan areas was the fact that the Pacific Flyway refuges were part of the irrigated landscape. For over half-a-century, wildlife refuges had depended on water supplied through irrigation systems set-up for farmers. Keeping water in rivers or directing it to metropolitan areas threatened water for refuges as well as farmers. In this changing political landscape, migratory waterfowl faced an uncertain future. A Changing Regulatory Environment The environmental movement encouraged the passage of a host of new laws to protect America's water, air, land, and wildlife. Among the most sweeping of them was the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA). It required refuge managers, farmers, and other land users to consider the effects of their activities on all threatened species, not just those of interest to sport hunters or those with economic significance. Some species -mostly conspicuous, 'charismatic' animals such as migratory waterfowl, the bald eagle, 208 and the bison - had been the focus of protection campaigns.6 The E S A differed from earlier legislation to protect species because it applied not only to well-known animals, but also to obscure species including the snail darter, northern spotted owl, and sucker fish.7 The act forced the FWS to broaden its mission and to alter the way it managed waterfowl refuges. Earlier versions of the act (in 1966 and 1969), lacked the scope and conferred less power than the 1973 act, which required all federal departments to ensure that their activities did not threaten the survival of endangered or threatened species and mandated o that the agencies take measures to restore endangered populations. It required these agencies to consider how their programs would affect the habitats of endangered species. Given the scope of the legislation, the ESA had the potential to affect American land use land in significant ways.9 In practice, the ESA had the greatest impact on federal public lands. Since most of these lands were in the western United States, the act had a greater effect on that region than other parts of the country. The act applied not only to waterfowl, which the FWS had managed for decades, but also to amphibians and to fish in the marshes, canals, and 6 See Mark Barrow Jr., "Science, Sentiment, and the Specter of Extinction: Reconsidering Birds of Prey during America's Interwar Years," Environmental History 7, no. 1 (2002): 69-98 and Andrew C. Isenberg, The Destruction of the Bison: An Environmental History, 1750-1920 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 164-92; 7 Shannon Peterson, Acting for Endangered Species: The Statutory Ark (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2002), 39-118. 8 Congress passed earlier version of the ESA in 1966 and 1969, but these precursors to the 1973 act were not as stringent. See Michael J. Bean and Melaine J. Rowland, The Evolution of National Wildlife Law, 3rd ed. (Westport, Connecticut: Praeger Publishers, 1997), 193-99. 9 Peterson, Acting for Endangered Species, 21-35 and Bonnie B. Burgess, Fate of the Wild: The Endangered Species Act and the Future of Biodiversity (Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 2001), 3-28. 209 open water of the refuges. Since the FWS did not monitor most of these species, it had a limited knowledge of their numbers and their vulnerability to extinction. As for plant species, the FWS had viewed vegetation on the refuges solely in terms of its utility for waterfowl. Staff managed the water on refuges to facilitate the growth of plants that ducks consumed (as well to cultivate the rice, barley, and other crops). They also cut willows, sprayed cattails with herbicides, and attacked other plants that interfered with the goal of improving waterfowl habitat. While the ESA hampered some of the traditional roles of the FWS within refuges, it dramatically increased the ability of the agency to influence land use outside refuges. Until the ESA, the staff of the FWS was largely unable to shape land use beyond refuge boundaries. The FWS could educate landowners about the role their lands played in perpetuating wildlife, and with the help of state wildlife agencies it could also enforce hunting regulations. Otherwise, the FWS had little say in the use of private lands. This changed with the passage of the ESA, for Congress gave the FWS primary responsibility for its implementation. (The National Marine Fisheries Service had jurisdiction over marine animals and anadromous fish.) The FWS had the power to list species, determine whether they were threatened or endangered, and propose recovery plans on public as well as private land. In effect, this meant that the FWS was partially responsible for determining the environmental suitability of projects carried out by other federal agencies including the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Reclamation. For an agency that had once been relatively powerless in the face of actions by other federal agencies that negated their conservation programs, this new authority was extraordinary. 210 The Short, Unhappy Life of the Kesterson National Wildlife Refuge Changes in water allocation also had major consequences for the Central and Imperial Valley refuges. In the 1960s, Californians increasingly questioned the unrestricted development of the state's rivers and the continued loss of wetlands. Previously, such concerns had rarely stopped projects. Owens Valley residents, for instance, futily opposed the diversion of water from the valley to supply Los Angeles in the early twentieth century (as discussed in Chapter Two) not because of the ecological consequences of the action but because it limited their own ability to put the water to use irrigating farms and grazing lands. The dispute centered on who would put the water to use rather than whether it should be used. Over forty years later, conservationists were emboldened by their success in stopping plans by the Interior Department to construct Echo Park Dam in the late 1950s (which would have flooded many of the valleys in Dinosaur National Monument in Colorado) and turned their attention to other water projects throughout the West. Federal agencies such as the Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that had once faced little opposition to their water projects now had to justify their actions economically and to reckon with the deleterious environmental effects of water development.10 Norris Hundley Jr., discusses these changes in The Great Thirst: Californians and Water: A History, rev. ed. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001), 303-362. See also Donald Worster, Rivers of Empire: Water, Aridity, and the Growth of the American West (New York: Pantheon, 1985), 308-26; Marc Reisner, Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water (New York: Penguin Books, 1986), 393-451. Worster and Reisner's scathing critiques of water development in the West influenced the debate over water policy in the region. For a critical analysis of the arguments and rhetorical strategies used by these two authors in these books, see Donald J. Pisani, "The Irrigation District and the Federal Relationship: Neglected Aspects of Water History in the Twentieth Century," in The Twentieth-Century West: Historical Interpretations, ed. Gerald D. Nash and Richard W. Etulain (Albuquerque: University of 211 The refuges established in the Central Valley after the 1960s were usually add-ons to new irrigation projects. One of these, the Kesterson National Wildlife Refuge on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, included the sumps for agricultural drainage from the Westlands Water District. Encompassing nearly 600,000 acres, the district is the largest irrigated land holding in the United States. District farmers received their water from the Bureau of Reclamation's Central Valley Project, which had played a key role in building dams and canals to service irrigators throughout the valley. The district was one of the last areas serviced by the project. Critics objected to its creation because of the poorly drained soils. 1 1 Impervious layers of clay within 3-10 meters of the surface prevented water from percolating through the soil. Without adequate drainage, salts and 12 other minerals would accumulate, eventually rendering the land unfit for agriculture. To solve the problem, the Bureau of Reclamation started constructing the San Luis Drain, a canal that would carry excess water from district lands north through the San Joaquin Valley and divert it into the San Joaquin-Sacramento River Delta. Farmers began widespread irrigation of lands in the district during the late 1960s before the drain New Mexico Press, 1989), 261-66. On Americans changing views toward dams, see Mark W. T. Harvey, A Symbol of Wilderness: Echo Park and the American Conservation Movement (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1994; reprint, Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2000) and John McPhee, Encounters with the Archdruid (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1971), 153-245. 1 1 Critics also said that servicing the district with water from the Central Valley Project was a blatant violation of acreage limitation in the Reclamation Act of 1902. See Worster, Rivers of Empire, 292-95. 1 2 Hundley, The Great Thirst, 429. Salinity, of course, is a problem in all arid regions with irrigated agriculture. However, the shallow clay layers made the salinity problem even worse in the Westlands Irrigation District. The large amounts of irrigation water used on the crops led to an accumulation of sub-surface water. As excess water evaporated from the surface, salts were left behind. See A. Dennis Lemly, "Agriculture and Wildlife: Ecological Implications of Subsurface Irrigation Drainage," Journal of Arid Environments 28 (1994): 88 and "Irrigation Drainage," in Encyclopedia of Deserts, ed. Michael A. Mares (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1999), 304 212 was finished. While the Bureau of Reclamation was building, the agency diverted water via canal into the Kesterson Reservoir, a sump approximately thirty-five miles northwest of the district. The FWS saw an opportunity to use this water for wildlife and successfully lobbied to have Kesterson designated a national wildlife refuge in 1970. Like the Lower Klamath, Tule Lake, and Clear Lake refuges, Kesterson was superimposed on a Bureau of Reclamation water project. From the bureau's perspective, Kesterson was a temporary sump for wastewater. In the 1970s, the Bureau of Reclamation tried to complete construction of the San Luis Drain, but opposition by environmentalists and state leaders forced it to abandon the plan. Critics worried that agricultural runoff carried by the drain would further degrade the already polluted delta from which many California municipalities derived drinking water. During most of the 1970s, Kesterson received surface water from local sources outside the district, but beginning in 1979, the principal source of water for the refuge became agricultural wastewater from the Westlands Water District. 1 3 Environmentalists worried that pesticides and other pollutants would harm migratory birds. Since the Bureau of Reclamation intended the reservoir to serve its needs as a sump, the FWS had little choice but to accept the water. The agency followed the water management model it had developed for other western refuges and carved the sump into units of managed wetlands (distributing the water also facilitated evaporation). The 1 3 Gary R. Zahm, "Kesterson Reservoir and Kesterson Wildlife Refuge: History, Current Problems, and Management Alternatives," Transactions of the Fifty-First North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference (1986): 325. 213 potential for water quality problems was high since the sumps were a "mechanism of waste disposal by design and a wildlife refuge only by coincidence."14 Troubles began to emerge when, in the early 1980s, the California State Water Resources Control Board refused the request by the Bureau of Reclamation to complete the San Luis Drain to the delta in the early 1980s. Scientists and refuge staff noticed a decline in the number of large-mouth and striped bass, carp, and catfish living in refuge ponds. By 1982, all of the fish were dead and fewer birds were hatching. When scientists examined bird eggs from the refuge, they found embryos with hideous deformities. Many were missing eyes or feet; some had brains protruding from theirs skulls. A l l the embryos, as well as many mature birds using the refuge had elevated levels of selenium, a naturally occurring mineral common in the soils on the western side of the San Joaquin Valley. Irrigation water leached selenium from soils in the Westlands Water District and sub-surface drains then carried the wastewater into the main canals that emptied into the Kesterson Refuge. As the irrigation water evaporated, salts and selenium were left behind and accumulated in the refuge marshes and ponds. Like DDT, selenium built-up in the tissues of fish and birds in toxic concentrations that caused deformities and death.15 The bird deaths at Kesterson quickly became a national controversy. Initially, the Bureau of Reclamation denied the problem, but then moved to cutoff water to the refuge. The next step - a far less appealing one for the bureau - was to stop delivering water to Hundley, The Great Thirst, 429 and Tom Harris, Death in the Marsh (Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 1991), 7. 1 5 Harris, Death in the Marsh, 12-13; National Research Council (U.S.) Committee on Irrigation-Induced Water Quality Problems, Irrigation-Induced Water Quality Problems : What Can Be Learned from the San Joaquin Valley Experience (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1989), 20-21; Lemly, "Irrigation Drainage," in Encyclopedia of Deserts, 304-07. 214 the approximately 40,000 acres of Westlands district farmland that were the primary source of the selenium. Opposition from the district forced the Department of the Interior to devise another solution. Instead of ending water deliveries to the Westlands district, the department filled the former wetlands and covered them with soil imported from areas without high levels of selenium. Wildlife advocates lost an important (albeit highly polluted) refuge. Irrigators in the Westlands Water District lost the sump for the water drained from their lands. Without adequate drainage, the district was forced to find methods to reduce the build-up of salts in the soil . 1 6 For a few years, the controversy at the Kesterson Refuge brought national attention to water quality problems facing other refuges in the United States. Reports from the Department of the Interior showed that many refuges depended on polluted water coming from agricultural areas. While contaminants affected refuges outside the West, refuges in the region were particularly susceptible to contamination since they relied on irrigation water to support ponds and marshes. The Department of the Interior denied that water quality problems on these other refuges were as severe as the problems afflicting the Kesterson Refuge. But they could not deny that a suite of pollutants including insecticides, fertilizers, and herbicides were finding there way into many of the nation's waterfowl refuges. Pollution did not make the Kesterson Refuge unique, selenium did, and it produced particularly grotesque results in bird embryos. The 1 6 Robert Lindsey, "Water That Enriched Valley Becomes a Peril in California," New York Times, 7 January 1985; Cass Peterson, "Farm Water Poisons Wildlife; California Refuge Contaminated," Washington Post, 10 March 1985; Cass Peterson, "Cleanup Pact 'Good News,' Hodel Says; Farming, Environment Interests Compromise," Washington Post, 30 March 1985; National Research Council, Irrigation Induced Water Quality Problems, 22-25; Hundley, The Great Thirst, 429-31. 215 pollutants draining into other refuges did not cause such dramatic problems, but, over time, they progressively degraded the quality of refuge waters. A Dying Refuge? After the passage of the Kuchel Act in 1964, Klamath Basin refuge staff were pleased with their success. With the help of sport hunters, conservation organizations, and farmers in other parts of California, the FWS prevented further homesteading of the Tule Lake Refuge. The Kuchel Act also signaled a truce between the FWS and the Tulelake Irrigation District, two groups that had fought through the 1950s over water levels in the sumps that formed the heart of the refuge. In 1952, the Tulelake Irrigation District agreed to maintain the sump at water levels agreed to by the district and the Bureau of Reclamation. Farmers could continue to lease lands on the refuge as long as farming did not interfere with waterfowl management. Despite its opposition to the irrigation district's water management practices and to the Bureau of Reclamation's plans to homestead part of the refuge, the FWS was not opposed to farming per se. The number of waterfowl using the refuge was still high in the 1960s and the agency needed to provide food for the birds. By continuing its own farming program and allowing leasing to continue, it ensured that there would be enough food for the waterfowl. The Kuchel Act protected the Tule Lake Refuge from immediate threats, but it also constrained the FWS's management. The agency managed the Lower Klamath, Sacramento, and many other refuges along the Pacific Flyway principally by 1 7 Philip Shabecoff, "Toxic Water Threatens Many Wildlife Refuges," New York Times, 30 April 1985; Cass Peterson, "The Interior Department; Various Pollution Problems Troubling Refuges," Washington Post, 1 May 1985; National Research Council, Irrigation Induced Water Quality Problems, 2-3, 47-48. 216 manipulating water. Extensive diking and canal systems enabled the agency to move water throughout the refuges to places where it was needed. Ponds and marshes were drained and filled to maintain wetland productivity. The temporary draining or drying of marshes from drought exposed the substrate to oxygen allowing vegetation to decompose. Without periodic disturbances, marshes steadily became less productive and the marsh habitats less diverse. There were other problems. The Lost River carried sediments to the Tule Lake Refuge sumps where they accumulated on the bottom of the marshes. Over time, this reduced the water depth and diminished the capacity of the sumps.18 Collectively, these processes affected the diversity of the Tule Lake marshes. Prior to the construction of the Klamath Project, the water levels of Tule Lake fluctuated considerably between spring and late summer and during long-term wet-dry cycles. The area of the lake changed, too, ranging from an estimated 53,000 acres in 1846 to over 100,000 acres in 1890.19 This dynamic hydrologic regime was largely responsible for the high productivity of Tule Lake, and the diverse habitats made the lake attractive for many species of waterfowl. After the completion of the Klamath Project, dams moderated the flow of the Lost River, dikes fixed the borders of the Tule Lake sumps, and the Kuchel 90 Act mandated specific water levels in the sumps. The productivity of the Tule Lake marshes declined as did the numbers of ducks and geese using the refuge (Figure 5.1). Integrated Land Management Working Group, "Integrated Land Management on Tule Lake," 8-9. 1 9 R . M . Abney, "A Comparative Study of the Past and Present Conditions of Tule Lake," USFWS, 1964, cited in USFWS, "Briefing Statement: Wetland/Farm Rotational Management, Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge," undated (presumably late 1990s), no page numbers, K B N W R - H Q . 2 0 USFWS, "Briefing Statement: Wetland/Farm Rotational Management." 217 By contrast, the number of ducks and geese using the Lower Klamath Refuge increased although the population of waterfowl along the Pacific Flyway had declined over the previous forty years. (In fact, more waterfowl used the refuge in the late 1990s than did in the 1960s.) Ducks such as redheads and gadwalls that are more dependent on the aquatic plant species and invertebrates common in seasonal marshes were particularly hard-hit by the ecological changes on the Tule Lake Refuge. Mallards, pintails, Canada geese, and other waterfowl that could consume grain fared better, but even their use of Tule Lake declined. The decrease in water depths also affected native fish - especially Lost River suckers - that lived in the sumps. The fish preferred deeper waters, yet with each passing year, the water depth decreased. Since sedimentation continued to affect the capacity of the sumps, the steady decline in wetland productivity and in the use of the Tule Lake Refuge by waterfowl seemed likely to continue.21 To stem further decline of the Tule Lake Refuge, in the 1990s the FWS proposed a creative solution that would diversify the refuges' habitats and continue leasing refuge land to farmers (Figure 5.2). Recognizing that the Kuchel Act requirement that farming be allowed to continue so long as it did not interfere with waterfowl management, the FWS sought to diversify habitat. This meant converting existing fields into new sumps and existing sumps into new fields. Wetland plants would colonize these recently flooded lands creating emergent marshes. Farmers would continue leasing refuge land, but in areas that had once been sumps. Over the years, the FWS would drain and flood different parts of the refuge to maintain the disturbance regimes common in Tule Lake 2 1 USFWS, "Sump Rotation: A Conceptual Plan, Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge," 22 November 1993, KBNWR-HQ, 7-9; Integrated Land Management Working Group. "Integrated Land Management," 8-9; and USFWS, "Briefing Statement." 218 before the development of the Klamath Project. This proposal would allow the refuge staff to maintain a variety of habitats throughout the refuge, including seasonal marshes, permanently flooded wetlands, and deeper water areas. As an added benefit, flooding would kill agricultural pests like parasitic nematodes and some plant diseases within the soil. If implemented, the plan would enable the uneasy relationship between farming and wildlife to continue on the Tule Lake Refuge by converting that area into a giant jigsaw of marshes, ponds, and fields of crops reordered periodically to maintain the productivity of wetlands and farms.22 As imaginative as this solution was, in many ways it simply maintained the status quo. While the plan might make sense as a way to reintroduce particular ecological factors (such as disturbance) to the Tule Lake Refuge, it was also a way to perpetuate commercial farming. The FWS said that it had limited options under the Kuchel Act. If it could devise a way to improve the waterfowl habitat on the Tule Lake Refuge while farming continued, it was obliged to do so. The act clearly stated that refuge officials must manage the refuges with full consideration of the needs of commercial agriculture. Environmentalists saw things quite differently. They viewed farming on the Tule Lake Refuge as a blatant violation of the National Wildlife Refuge Improvement Act of 1997, which made conservation the highest priority on national wildlife refuges. The Lower Klamath and Tule Lake refuges were the only ones in the federal system that permitted commercial farming. Refuges were for wild species, environmentalists insisted, not agricultural monocultures. Even worse, in their view, was that water that should have supported marshes and ponds on the two refuges irrigated crops like barley, potato, and 2 2 Integrated Land Management Working Group, "Integrated Land Management," 10-11, 13-14 and USFWS, "Sump Rotation: A Conceptual Plan," 14-16. 219 onion subsidized by the U.S. Government. And, like other farmers throughout the West, farmers leasing refuge lands also used pesticides and fertilizers that made their way into refuge waterways and marshes. In response to these criticisms, refuge staff insisted that they had limited options. "We inherited a compromised situation and we're managing a compromised situation," said Fran Maiss, assistant manager for the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuges. "If you're going to raise crops on a commercial scale, you're going to need some chemicals. If we tried to promote (organic farming), it wouldn't work. You can't make a conventional farmer into an organic farmer."23 Such arguments did not persuade environmentalists, who wanted the FWS to curtail commercial farming. In 1997, a coalition of regional and national environmental organizations filed a lawsuit against the Interior Department and the Tulelake Irrigation District, arguing against commercial farming on the refuge on a number of grounds.24 They insisted that the row crops (e.g., onions, potatoes, and sugar beets) that farmers grew on some of the leased lands were of little use to waterfowl and that farmers were increasingly dependent on pesticides and fertilizers. They cited the accumulation of pesticides in refuge sumps as a primary reason for the decline in Klamath Basin bird populations.25 Environmentalists correctly noted that farmers continued to use pesticides on Tule Lake Refuge lease lands. Yet this did not mean that farmers used pesticides Lance Robertson and Dustin Solberg, "Reviving a Refuge," High Country News, 16 August 1999, 3; 2 4The plaintiffs included national organizations like the Wilderness Society, Audubon Society, and Sierra Club as well as the Klamath Forest Alliance, a local environmental group based in the southern Oregon town of Ashland. 25 Klamath Forest Alliance v Babbit, 1-4, (United States District Court for Eastern District of California 1998) and Les Line, "Foul Play in the Klamath Basin," Audubon Magazine, May-June 1997, 199-20. 220 indiscriminately. The FWS adopted an Integrated Pest Management program (IPM) and limited the types, amounts, and places where farmers could apply pesticides. They sought a middle ground between industrial models of agriculture, which require frequent and widespread applications of pesticides, and organic agriculture, which avoids using pesticides altogether. Under an EPM program, farmers strive to use smaller amounts of pesticides by applying them only when conditions warrant, and to use non-chemical methods to control weeds and insects when possible. The goal is to reduce wildlife exposure to pesticides, but not to eliminate them. It was hoped that fewer pesticides would lower production costs.26 According to the FWS, there is no evidence, except in a few isolated cases, that pesticides have caused bird deaths. FWS officials argue that since pesticides are expensive, farmers rarely apply more than is necessary to control pests. Also, to protect refuge marshes, the FWS prohibits the use of pesticides within fifty feet of waterways and sumps. Farmers leasing lands on the refuge face greater restrictions on pesticide use than farmers on other lands within the Klamath Project. Thus, the FWS argues that few, if any, pesticides reach the Tule Lake marshes. The pesticide issue is part of environmentalists' broader criticism of the farming program. "The basic quandary before the agencies and national public is not so much 9ft The FWS discusses its IPM program on Klamath Basin refuge lands in U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, "Integrated Pest Management Plan and Environmental Assessment for the Leased Lands at Lower Klamath and Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuges Oregon/California (workbook)," <>, (1998), 3-4. For an examination of the aims of IPM, see Joel Bourne, "Bugging Out," Audubon Magazine, March/April 1999, 71-73. Some have claimed that IPM is a vacuous term and that IPM programs in the United States have done little to reduce pesticide use or to change conventional farming practices. See Lester E Ehler, and Dale G Bottrell, "The Illusion of Integrated Pest Management," Issues in Science and Technology, Spring 2000,61-64. 221 whether pesticide use on the refuges is in the public interest (clearly, it's not), but whether the lease-land farming system itself should be continued," writes William Kittredge, a well-known writer who grew-up and once farmed in southeastern Oregon.2 7 Wendell Wood, the Klamath Falls representative for the Oregon Natural Resources Council, an influential Portland-based environmental group, stated the problem in stark terms: "We view the continued and sanctioned use of pesticides on Wildlife Refuges as but a symptom of the greater problem. Refuges must be managed for wildlife first." In this view, the continued use of pesticides is an affront to the primary purposes of wildlife refuges. The refuges were supposed to be places where wildlife could flourish, not yet another place for growing potatoes or alfalfa. The point is not the amount of pesticides used. Rather, it is the continuance of modern commercial agriculture on what was once one of North America's premier wildlife refuges. As appealing as the 'wildlife refuges for wildlife' argument may be, it denies the uncomfortable but real connections between irrigated agriculture and the Lower Klamath and Tule Lake refuges. Since the refuges have no water rights, the FWS depends on water supplied by Klamath Project farms to sustain the refuges. The Tule Lake Refuge is the last stop for water that has flowed from the outskirts of Klamath Falls twenty-five miles to the northwest, through project farms, and finally into the Tule Lake Refuge sumps. Environmentalists argue that the refuges would be better off if the FWS Tupper Ansel Blake, Madeleine Graham Blake, and William Kittredge, Balancing Water: Restoring the Klamath Basin (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000), 129. Kittredge has written many other books about his years in the region and the environmental consequences of irrigated agriculture. See William Kittredge, Owning It All (Saint Paul, Minnesota: Graywolf Press, 1987), 55-71 and Hole in the Sky: A Memoir (New York: Vintage Books, 1992). 2 8 Quoted in ibid., 128. 222 eliminated the lease-land farming program. But if the refuge farming program ended immediately, the refuges probably would not receive any more water than they do already. The water used by farmers who lease land on the refuge would go instead to farmers upstream, who have senior water rights. Some of the return flow from that irrigation would make its way into the Tule Lake Refuge sumps, but it is unclear whether the refuge would gain water overall. Eliminating lease-land farming on the Tule Lake Refuge would solve the problem of pesticide use in the immediate vicinity, but stopping pesticide use on the refuges would do nothing to prevent the use of pesticides upstream. The refuges cannot escape their dependence on irrigation water. Environmentalists might argue that ending the application of pesticides (particularly in the immediate proximity of refuge marshes) is preferable to continuing to spray insecticides and herbicides on refuge lands. Yet the poor water quality of Klamath Basin lakes, canals, and marshes reflects decisions made throughout the basin, not just contamination from Tule Lake Refuge lease-lands. Water -which divides so many groups in the basin - connects them all through the natural and constructed waterways of the Klamath Project. Klamath Basin Crisis The turn of the century brought a new water conflict to the fore in the Klamath Basin. This time the Tule Lake and Lower Klamath Lake refuges were not at the center of the conflict. Rather, they suffered from federal government decisions to provide water for endangered fish species at the expense of irrigators. Following a severe drought - one of the worst in a century - during the spring of 2001, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 223 and the National Marine Fisheries Service recommended that the Bureau of Reclamation curtail the water supply to the 1,200 farms within the Klamath Project. Irrigators had coped with dry years before. Those with senior water rights could restrict their water use. For those with junior water rights, a dry year might mean that they received no water whatsoever. Typically, however, most farmers were able to get enough water to irrigate their alfalfa fields or rows of potatoes and garlic. For most of the previous half-century, the refuges had received water whenever irrigators did. Usually, there was enough return flow from irrigators to support refuge marshes. During droughts, irrigators and refuges suffered together, (though in severe droughts, the refuges suffered more because they received only residual water from farming operations). Beginning in the 1990s, the FWS attempted to rectify this situation by claiming water rights as part of the Klamath Basin adjudication held by the State of Oregon. The adjudication process is designed to grant water rights to individuals, groups, and organizations that used water within the basin prior to 1909, the year the State of 90 Oregon assumed responsibility for regulating surface water use within the state. Under the doctrine of prior appropriation, those who claimed water rights first were entitled to first rights to water ("First in time, first in right"). Those with senior water holdings had the right to use their allotment before those with junior rights. This meant that water went to non-Indian settlers, especially to farmers served by the Klamath Project. By virtue of the treaties they signed with the U.S. federal government, Indian tribes such as the Klamath and Modoc should have had superior rights to the non-Indian users, but in 2 9 Lawrence W. Powers and Karen Adams, "Contemporary Use of Water Resources in the Klamath Basin," in A River Never the Same: A History of Water in the Klamath Basin, ed. Shaw Historical Library (Klamath Falls, Oregon: Shaw Historical Library, Oregon Institute of Technology, 1999), 96-102. 224 practice, the federal government did not recognize their rights in the early twentieth century (though, as discussed below, this began to change after the 1970s). Fish, waterfowl, and other animals and plants that depended on the basin's water had no right 30 to water either. The institutional landscape had changed in the Klamath Basin since the last major drought in the early 1990s. The Bureau of Reclamation and farmers still managed the waters of the Klamath Project primarily for irrigation. They saw the basin's lakes and rivers primarily as units in a plumbing system, not as elements of ecosystems. In effect, the Lower Klamath and Tule Lake refuges depended mostly on water leftover from "j i upstream irrigators after it had flowed through the project's canals, pumps, and sumps. Water passed from irrigators into the Tule Lake Refuge, then through a tunnel into Lower Klamath Refuge, and then by canal into the Klamath River (Figure 5.4)32 Environmentalists and Indian tribes had a different view of the Klamath Basin waterscape. Environmental organizations such as the Oregon Natural Resources Council (ONRC), the Klamath Forest Alliance, and the Wilderness Society saw the Klamath Basin as a landscape of loss. To them, irrigators and the Bureau of Reclamation had destroyed the primal marshlands that existed nearly a century before. In its place, the Oregon Water Resources Department, "Resolving the Klamath," <>. 3 1 On occasion, the Tulelake Irrigation District diverted water to the Tule Lake Refuge when the FWS requested it and if the district could spare it. 3 2 Water supplies for the Tule Lake and Lower Klamath Lake Refuges are discussed in U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, "Draft Environmental Assessment: Implementation of the Agricultural Program on Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge," 19 January 2001, <>, 1.1-1.2, 1.8-1.14.1 discuss the different ways the Bureau of Reclamation and the FWS see the basin's waterscape in Robert Wilson, "Klamath's Federal Agencies Map Different Realities," High Country News, 13 August 2001. 225 bureau and farmers had constructed an artificial network of canals and sumps that supported a destructive form of chemically-dependent agriculture. Its casualties were the wild inhabitants of the basin: migratory birds, sucker fish, salmon, bald eagles, and other animals. The destruction of the basin's marshes was a tragedy; the leasing of refuge lands to farmers an abomination.33 Indians also lamented the transformation wrought by irrigators, but for different reasons. Klamath and Modoc Indians had long caught sucker fish in the marshes, lakes, and rivers of their traditional territories. The many structures constructed by irrigators destroyed riparian habitat and made much of the basin's water inhospitable to suckers and other native fish. Unlike the Indians, farmers saw the suckers as junk fish. When they irrigated their fields, water sometimes carried suckerfish across the land where they flopped on the ground and died. 3 4 After a series of lawsuits during the 1970s and the 1980s, the federal district courts recognized that the Treaty of 1864 signed by the Klamath Indians entitled the tribes to water rights that superceded those of other users in the basin. The basis for the decision was the clause in the treaty ensuring the tribes' right to use the resources of the reservation in exchange for ceding much f their former territory to the federal government. However, having rights to resources such as sucker fish and salmon meant little unless there was sufficient water to support them. The courts recognized this, and in later rulings decided that the Klamath Tribes were entitled to 3 3 Both the ONRC and the Wilderness Society have been closely involved with environmental issues in the Klamath Basin. Their web sites for each organization details the positions of each organization on water use and wildlife management in the Klamath Basin. Oregon Natural Resources Council, " Klamath Basin," < programs/klamath.html#KBCbackground> and The Wilderness Society, "The Klamath Basin: A Western Everglades," < klamath.cfm>. 3 4 Michael Milstein, "Fish Center of Swirling Storm," Oregonian, 8 May 2001. 226 enough water to protect the resources they traditionally hunted and fished - including suckerfish. The implications of this ruling were enormous. In effect, the ruling overturned a century of water allocation in the Klamath Basin. The tribes, who had long been marginalized socially and economically in basin affairs, now had priority rights to the most valuable natural resource in the Klamath Basin. 3 5 Enforcement of the ESA also had implications for water allocation. In the 1980s, the once abundant shortnosed sucker (Chasmistes brevirostris) and Lost River sucker {Deltistes luxants) populations in the Klamath Basin declined precipitously. In 1988, both species were classified as endangered under the ESA. The fish lived in Upper Klamath Lake, Tule Lake, and the Lost River (but not in Lower Klamath Lake). The draining of lakes and marshes by the Bureau of Reclamation was partly responsible for the populations' decline, but other factors contributed. Poor water quality made it difficult for the suckers to survive. In the summer and fall, algal blooms raised the pH levels of Upper Klamath Lake, and when the algae died, its decomposition removed oxygen from the water. Algal blooms were associated with major die-offs of suckers in 1971 and 1986. In June 1992, the pH level where Upper Klamath Lake emptied into the A-Canal (one the main Klamath Project irrigation channels) was 10.5 - only slightly less than the pH of ammonia. While scientists believe that eutrophic conditions were common in Upper Klamath Lake before the twentieth century, the changing water conditions created by the The Klamath Tribes' claim to water was based on the Winters Doctrine, which states that Indian tribes have reserved rights to water that flow through their reservations. This doctrine applies even when the federal government has terminated the reservation, as was the case with the Klamath Reservation in 1954. See David H . Getches, Water Law in a Nutshell, 3rd ed. (St. Paul, Minn.: West Publishing Co., 1997), 310-11, 316-17 and Charles F. Wilkinson, American Indians, Time, and the Law: Native Societies in a Modern Constitutional Democracy (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1987), 70-71. 227 Klamath Project have likely made the situation even worse. Nitrogen and phosphorous used in farm fertilizer and carried into basin lakes contributed to algal blooms and led to the worsening conditions for shortnose and Lost River suckers. After droughts in 1992, the Fish and Wildlife Service stated in a biological opinion that both species would likely become extinct unless the Bureau of Reclamation altered its management of the Klamath Project.36 The populations of coho salmon that spawned in the Klamath River were also declining in the 1990s. Unlike the shortnose and Lost River suckers, coho are not restricted to the Klamath Basin. Coho once lived in streams in rivers and streams between northern California and Alaska, but their numbers had declined greatly due to overfishing and the destruction of river habitat. The coho spawning in the Klamath River watershed are genetically distinct from other coho populations using other watercourses along the West Coast. Dams built on the Klamath River during the later 1950s and early 1960s impeded access to spawning areas upstream (Figure 5.5). Landscape changes affecting salmon habitat contributed to the species' decline. Logging and road construction on hillslopes above salmon-bearing streams led to greater erosion that eliminated spawning areas or reduced their quality. Hatchery raised coho also competed with wild coho for the remaining spawning areas. In addition to these threats, coho had to contend with reduced flows as irrigators in the upper reaches of the Klamath Basin used water for irrigation. Along the Trinity River, one of the main tributaries of the Klamath River, the Bureau of Reclamation diverted water outside the watershed and into the Central Valley. From 3 6 Fish and Wildlife Service Regional Director, Region 1, Portland, Oregon, "Formal Consultation on the Effects of the Long-Term Operation of the Klamath Project on the Lost River Sucker, Shortnose Sucker, Bald Eagle and American Peregrine Falcon," (1992), KBNWR-HQ. 228 there, canals and pumps conveyed the water hundreds of miles to farmers in the Westlands Water District in the San Joaquin Valley. Declining populations of coho salmon led the National Marine Fisheries Service to list the fish as threatened under the ESA in 1997.37 Together, the ESA and Indian reserved water rights were powerful legal tools for changing water allocation in the Klamath Basin - tools that would have significant consequences for the basin's wildlife refuges. The FWS and National Marine Fisheries Service argued that more water was needed in basin lakes and rivers to support endangered fish species. Since they harvested these species, members of the Klamath, Yurok, and Hoopa tribes also had a stake in the survival of suckerfish and coho salmon. Until the 1990s, the Bureau of Reclamation operated the Klamath Project with little regard for these species and the water rights of Indian tribes. As the number of sucker fish and coho salmon dwindled, the bureau came under increasing pressure from the agencies responsible for enforcing the ESA, from Indian tribes, and from environmentalists to do more to protect these species. The Bureau of Reclamation was able to fend-off critics for several years by promising to protect fish. But severe drought changed the situation. The bureau could keep these critics at bay only so long as severe drought did not affect the basin. When it did, the bureau had to decide whether to shut-off 3 7 This listing applied only to coho in northern California and southern Oregon. National Research Council, "Interim Report from the Committee on Endangered and Threatened Fishes in the Klamath River Basin, Scientific Evaluation of Biological Opinions on Endangered and Threatened Fishes in the Klamath River Basin," (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 2002), 5. Joseph Taylor III discusses the affects of landscape changes on Oregon salmon in "Burning the Candle at Both Ends: Historicizing Overfishing in Oregon's Nineteenth-Century Salmon Fisheries," Environmental History 4 (January 1999): 54-79 and Making Salmon: An Environmental History of the Northwest Fisheries Crisis (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1999), 39-67. 229 water to irrigators, and in so doing, stop the flow of water to refuges lying at the end of the Klamath Projects irrigation canals.38 This was the situation in the spring of 2001. The winter of 2000-2001 was the driest on record in the Klamath Basin. By early spring, most of the snow pack had melted leaving water levels in Upper Klamath Lake and Clear Lake (which were also reservoirs for the Klamath Project) much lower than normal. Under the ESA, the Bureau of Reclamation was required to consult with the FWS and National Marine Fisheries Service to determine the minimum lake levels in Upper Klamath Lake and the minimum flows in the Klamath River needed to support endangered fish. The Bureau of Reclamation wanted to lower the level of Upper Klamath Lake to 4,136.8 feet in summer, but the FWS insisted on a minimum of 4,140 feet. Since Upper Klamath Lake is shallow even in wet years, this amounted to a difference of roughly 200,000 acre feet of water. Not only did the Bureau of Reclamation need to keep more water in Upper Klamath Lake to protect endangered shortnose and Lost River suckers, it also had to release some of the remaining water into the Klamath River to support threatened coho salmon. In short, the Bureau of Reclamation had to ensure that water remained in the basin's major lakes and rivers to protect endangered fish, could not release it to project farmers.39 While the legal rulings affirmed the rights of the Klamath Tribes to some of the basin's water, the amount of their entitlement had to be determined by the State of Oregon. Since 1975, the state has been in the process of adjudicating the water rights of Indian tribes and federal agencies who claim the basin's water. Oregon Water Resources Department, "Resolving the Klamath." 3 9 Ron Hathaway and Teresa Welch, "Background," in Water Allocation in the Klamath Reclamation Project, 2001: An Assessment of Natural Resource, Economic, Social, and Institutional Issues with a Focus on the Upper Klamath Basin William S. Braunworth Jr., Teresa Welch and Ron Hathaway, eds., (Corvallis, Oregon: Oregon State University Extension Service, 2002), 31-43, 48; Michael Milstein, "Tensions Flare over 230 In April 2001, the Bureau of Reclamation announced that it would not release water from Upper Klamath Lake to Klamath Project farmers. Farmers who had wells or access to other lakes and streams could irrigate their fields, but for most, the closure meant they would receive no water. For most of the spring and summer of 2001, the Tule Lake and Lower Klamath Refuges received no water either. Refuge staff had been able to divert water into both refuges early in the winter of 2000-2001, so there was some water on the refuges after the cut-off. On the Lower Klamath Refuge, the FWS began a grim task of triage by selecting some ponds and marshes as sacrifice areas. Refuge staff diverted water from these units into other marshes deemed more important. As the summer progressed and the residual water in the drained units evaporated, the refuge began to resemble the dry Lower Klamath lakebed of the 1920s (Figure 5.6. See Figures 2.6 and 2.7 for comparison).40 For the FWS, this was a remarkable and disturbing turn of events. As one of the two agencies in charge of enforcing the ESA, the FWS had the power to list species as endangered and to issue biological opinions on whether the actions of other federal agencies might adversely affect endangered species. Based on the statements of FWS (and National Marine Fisheries Service) scientists, the Bureau of Reclamation shut-off water to the irrigators in the Klamath Project. An agency that once at the mercy of the Bureau of Reclamation at various times during the twentieth century was now able to compel the bureau to manage water with the needs of endangered species in mind. Yet Water Rights," Oregonian, 5 May 2001 and "Fish Center of Swirling Crisis," Oregonian, 7 May 2001. 4 0 Michael Milstein, "Klamath Refuges Go Thirsty," Oregonian, 13 July 2001 and Dave Mauser (Refuge Biologist), "Severe Water Shortages Expected for Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge," Words from the Wetlands Spring 2001, K B N W R - H Q , 1-4. 231 this new power was a devil's bargain. Since the FWS wildlife refuges depended on water from the Klamath Project, and had junior water rights in relation to project irrigators, they also suffered when irrigators went without water. Unless the FWS could demonstrate that endangered species were on the refuges and that low water conditions harmed them (or their habitat), the refuges, like the farms of the Klamath Project, would have to go without water. The FWS was faced with ordering more water to remain in the Upper Klamath Lake and the Klamath River. The result was that the agency's Lower Klamath and Tule Refuges went without water during the hot, dry summer of 2001. 4 1 Farmers' protests over the water cutoff drowned out concerns over the dire situation facing the refuges. The cutoff affected over 1,200 Klamath Project farms. Initially, the loss of water stunned farmers, but as they realized the full consequences of having to survive financially for a year without crops, their disbelief turned to rage. "We're real people here, and we're being annihilated," said Rob Crawford, a farmer dependent on Klamath Project water. He and other farmers blamed environmentalists for their plight, saying that the water shutoff was part of a systematic effort by environmentalists and the FWS to engage in "rural cleansing." Though it might appear unseemly to compare the effect of environmental protection on rural communities to genocide, comments like these demonstrated the depth of farmers' anger. Such comments became common after the Oregon Natural Resources Council proposed that the federal government purchase land and water rights from willing sellers in order to ease pressure on water supplies in the Klamath Basin. 4 2 Robert Wilson, "Klamath's Federal Agencies." 4 2 Douglas Jehl, "Cries of Save the Suckerfish Rile Farmers' Allies," New York Times, 20 June 2001 and Dan Hansen, "Phrase Takes Root in Forest Struggle," The 232 To bring national attention to their plight, farmers and their supporters launched a series of protests that demonstrated both their capacity to unite many in the Klamath Basin behind their cause and to garner media attention. During the spring and summer of 2001, stories about protests in the Klamath Basin against the actions of the federal government were common in regional newspapers and on television news programs, and occasionally, in national news outlets.43 In May 2001, over ten thousand farmers and their supporters rallied in Klamath Falls to protest the water cutoff and to call for amendments to the ESA. In a gesture designed to exemplify their plight to the media, protesters passed buckets of water drawn from Upper Klamath Lake through the Main Street of Klamath Falls and then dumped the water into the main canal of the Klamath Project. U.S. Congressmen Wally Herger (R-California) and Greg Walden (R-Oregon) and Senator Gordon Smith (R-Oregon) participated in the protest as well. "Urban people, people from the northeast, they just don't understand because they've never been affected by the Spokesman-Review (Spokane, Washington), 23 February 2003. Hansen credits the origin of the phrase to Ron Arnold, executive vice-president of the Center for Free Enterprise, a Wise Use group based in Bellevue, Washington. 4 3 See Brad Knickerbocker, "Fish Vs. Farmers Presents Test Case for Bush," Christian Science Monitor, 11 July 2001 and "West's Long, Hot Summer Flares up over Land Use," Christian Science Monitor, 9 August 2001; Seth Zuckerman, "Klamath Water Wars: Systems Our of Sync," Christian Science Monitor, 27 July 2001 and "Follow the Water," Tidepool, posted 8 August 2001 < klamath3.cfm>; "Oregon's Water War," New York Times, 15 July 2001; Eric Brazil, "Klamath Livelihoods Wither Water Shut-Off Along Oregon Border Takes Toll on Farmers," San Francisco Chronicle, 16 July 2001; Nancy Solomon, "Klamath River," National Public Radio Weekend Edition - Saturday, 16 June 2001, <http://discover.>; Elizabeth Arnold, "Klamath Basin, Oregon," National Public Radio A l l Things Considered, 16 July 2001, <http://discover.>; Andy Bowers, "Klamath Basin Protest," National Public Radio A l l Things Considered, 21 August 2001, < /features/feature.jhtml?wfld=1127763>; Lee Hochberg, "Fish Vs. Farmers," The Newshour with Jim Lehrer, 20 August 2001. 233 ESA," said Congressman Walden. Paul Christy, a World War II veteran and Klamath Project homesteader, also placed the blame for the water crisis with urban environmentalists, saying "we have some pretty nutty people - we call'em the green people - over the hill. It's hard to believe that it could all be wrecked."4 5 During the summer, smaller groups of protesters took measures beyond simply marching in the streets. On July 4 t h (Independence Day), protesters cut off the lock to the headgates of the Klamath Project's main canal and released water from Upper Klamath Lake. The Bureau of Reclamation closed the gates, but protesters returned to open them repeatedly during the next two weeks. Since the local sheriff refused to intervene and the district attorney refused to prosecute the perpetrators if arrested, the Bureau of Reclamation eventually called in U.S. Federal Marshals to protect the headgates from further vandalism and prevent the release of more water from Upper Klamath Lake. 4 6 Signs erected along highways and back roads within the Klamath Basin also made the farmers' points in stark terms (Figure 5.7 and 5.8). Collectively, the signs painted the farmers as victims of callous environmentalists and of environmental regulations designed to protect endangered species over the needs of hard-working people. Farmers and their supporters argued that irrigation water was an entitlement promised by the "Klamath Basin Bucket Brigade: 50 Buckets of Defiance," May 2001, 4. 4 5 Eric Brazil, "Farmers Protest Loss of Water," San Francisco Chronicle, 8 May 2001. 4 6 Protesters opened the headgates on two occasions before July 4 t h , 2001, but the Independence Day opening attracted the largest number of protesters and the greatest media attention. Associated Press, "Farmer's Reopen Canal Gates in Face of Federal Ban," New York Times, 4 July 2001; New York Times, "Farmers Force Open Canal in Fight with U.S. Over Water," New York Times, 6 July 2001;. Douglas Jehl, "Officials Loath to Act as Farmers Divert Water Meant for Endangered Fish," New York Times, 9 July 2001; Craig Welch, "Both Sides Harden in Oregon Water Dispute," Seattle Times, 9 July 2001. 234 federal government. By failing to continue the supply of water at levels prevailing in the previous century, the federal government was seen to have turned on the people. Supporters of the irrigators claimed that Lost River and shortnose suckers were not worth the protection they were afforded. "There are plenty of them, and they are junk fish," said Brad Harper, a representative for the irrigator advocacy group Water for Life. Betrayed and frustrated, the farmers continued to make their case with the media and through the courts during the rest of the summer. Given that the Fish and Wildlife Service's Tule Lake and Lower Klamath Lake refuges were mostly dry, the agency might have expected to gain some sympathy from the farming community. On the contrary, the agency became one of the main objects of the farmers' discontent (Figure 5.9 and 5.10). Indeed, the fact that FWS decisions to protect endangered fish had led to water shortages on the agency's refuges clearly illustrated that the FWS was inept, insensitive to the needs of people and wildlife. In a striking departure from earlier depictions of farmlands as places for crops rather than wildlife, farmers now emphasized the role their lands played in supporting waterfowl, deer, and other wild animals. Wildlife became unwitting allies in the rhetorical strategy of those protesting against the decisions of the F W S . 4 7 In making their case, basin residents opposing environmentalists and the federal government adopted a populist discourse based on the primacy of labor. In contrast to environmentalists, whom they depicted as radicals living in urban areas far from the basin, farmers and their supporters depicted themselves as true Americans fighting to protect rural livelihoods (Figure 5.11). "People in rural America, by and large, are true 4 7 See ""Klamath Basin Bucket Brigade," 3-4 and Milstein, "Klamath Refuges Go Thirsty." 235 patriots," said an eighty-five year old resident of Klamath Falls and the owner of a fertilizer business. "But we're not too patriotic here anymore... We just can't believe that AO a great country would do this to our own people." In their view, the withdrawal of irrigation water was not just an economic hardship, it was an assault by the federal government on the American family farm and the hard-working men and women who tilled the soil. Many of the original Klamath Project homesteaders were also veterans of the First or Second World Wars, and some of them participated in the bucket brigade protest. It was, they said, an insult that the federal government was willing to endanger the livelihood of veterans and their descendents for the benefit of ugly and worthless fish. 4 9 At the end of the summer, Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton ordered the Bureau of Reclamation to release 70,000 acre feet of water to irrigators, but this was too little too late for most farmers. The growing season was almost over and since farmers had been told not to expect any water during the year, they had not maintained distributary canals for their fields. Environmentalists sued the Department of the Interior claiming that the biological opinion filed by the FWS in March 2001 stated that any extra water must go to the wildlife refuges to protect the bald eagles using the Lower Klamath Refuge.50 Eventually, the Bureau of Reclamation released water to the refuges, too, 4 S Jehl, "Officials Loath to Act." See also Brazil, "Klamath Livelihoods Wither." 4 9 On connection between work and nature, see Richard White, '"Are You an Environmentalist or Do You Work for a Living?': Work and Nature," Uncommon Ground: Toward Reinventing Nature, ed. William Cronon, 171-85(New York: W. W.. Norton & Company, 1995). White also discusses anti-federal government sentiment in the contemporary rural West in "The Current Weirdness in the West," Western Historical Quarterly 28 (1997): 5-16. 5 0 Bald eagles wintering in the basin feed on the carcasses of dead or dying waterfowl on the Lower Klamath Refuge. Environmentalists and the FWS feared that 236 though the water levels in both the Tule Lake and Lower Klamath Lake refuges were far below average. Despite the worst fears of environmentalists, sport hunters, and the FWS, there was not a major die-off of waterfowl during the fall migrations. The birds were able to withstand one year of drought. Since the Klamath Basin serves primarily as a staging area rather than a wintering ground, migratory waterfowl could accommodate the loss of some habitat in the basin for one season. The cumulative effect of multiple dry years and reduced water deliveries to the refuges might have a more pronounced effect.51 In response to the controversy generated by the water cut off, Secretary Norton asked the National Academy of Sciences to organize a panel of scientific experts to review the biological opinions issued by the FWS and the National Marine Fisheries Service, investigate the validity of the government scientists' findings, and publish them in a preliminary report by the spring of 2002. 5 2 A year later, the NAS would issue a final report on the committee's view of the long-term ecological needs of the endangered fish in the Klamath Basin. 5 3 Convening the panel of experts seemed to be an effort by Norton to answer critics that the scientists used weak and inconclusive evidence on which to base their biological opinions. "We should base our decisions on the best available science," Norton said. She hoped that an independent review of the science would ease tensions and serve as proof of the government's attempts to make fair decisions. Farmers and their without adequate water waterfowl would not use the refuge, and as a consequence, bald eagles would either starve or be forced to search for food elsewhere. 5 1 Michael Milstein, "Drought Has Little Effect on Birds," Oregonian, 5 December 2001. 5 2 The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) was created by presidential order in the nineteenth century to investigate matters of scientific importance or to offer opinions on scientific controversies when requested to by government agencies. In the case of the Klamath dispute, the National Research Council, an organization affiliated with the NAS, coordinated the investigation. 5 3 The NAS had not issued its final report as of July 2003. 237 supporters worried that the committee would simply affirm the agencies' views. Environmentalists and groups representing commercial fishers were enthusiastic. "We're by no means afraid," said Glen Spain, Norwest director for the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Association. "The science is bulletproof. This will demonstrate what we all know: Fish need water to exist."54 They should have been worried. The committee did not rubber-stamp the biological opinions and it strongly criticized the assessments of the federal scientists.55 It said that there was no conclusive evidence linking water levels in Upper Klamath Lake and sucker mortality. In fact, many suckers had died during years when lake levels were high. There was no reason, in the view of the committee, to keep the lake at levels requested by the FWS and National Marine Fisheries Service. Furthermore, the release of water from Upper Klamath Lake into the Klamath River to aid coho salmon might actually have harmed the fish since the water coming from the lake was warmer than the salmon could tolerate. Rather than blaming excessive irrigation as the main reason for the decline of the coho, the committee indentified the diversion of water from the main tributary of the Klamath River, the Trinity River, as a more important factor influencing the survival of coho (during the summer months, water from the Trinity River is typically cooler than water flowing from Upper Klamath Lake). 5 6 Farmers were elated. Norton and the Bush Administration were pleased since it gave them justification to release more Eric Bailey, "Outside Group to Review Status of 3 Klamath Fish Species," Los Angeles Times, 3 October 2001. 5 5 Nancy Langston, ""The Suckers, the Salmon, and the Historian," conference presentation, American Society for Environmental History Annual Meeting, 27 March 2003. Langston was a member of the NRC committee. 5 6 National Research Council, "Interim Report," 11-25. 238 water for irrigators. The reputations of the FWS and National Marine Fisheries - already badly tarnished by the previous summer's controversy - were ruined.5 7 Farmers and their supporters had only a few months to savor their victory. Basing their decision on the NAS committee's findings, the Bureau of Reclamation releases far less water from the Upper Klamath Lake into the Klamath River than it did the previous year. When chinook salmon began their run up the Klamath River in August and September, thousands of the fish began to die only a few miles from the river's mouth. The immediate cause was unknown, but as the number of dead fish rose, commercial fishermen, Indian tribes, and environmental groups laid the blame with the decision to provide more water to irrigators. By early October, over 30,000 salmon were dead. In protest, tribal leaders shipped tons of rotting salmon and dumped them on the steps of the Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C. Norton and officials with the Department of the Interior said there was no scientific basis for the critics' accusations. Even so, the fish kill contributed further to the mistrust and acrimony among the various interest groups concerned with water allocation in the Klamath Basin. 5 8 "Victory for the Farmers," Oregonian, 5 February 2002; Associated Press, "Report Wil l Affect Klamath Water Allocations, Norton Say," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 5 February 2002; Andrew C. Revkin, "Study Discounts Halting Irrigation to Protect Fish," New York Times, 5 February 2002. The fact that the committee's mandate for the interim report was narrow and that the committee would provide a broader set of recommendations in the final report was lost to most commentators. However, see "Fish Wars," New York Times, 14 February 2002 and "Move Slowly on Klamath: Report Proves Need for Better Science," Register-Guard (Eugene), 11 February 2002. 5 8 Timothy Egan, "As Thousands of Salmon Die, Fight for River Erupts Again," New York Times, 28 September 2002; John Driscoll, "Fish K i l l Has Throttled the Klamath People," Eureka Times-Standard, 2 October 2002; Andy Dworkin and Michelle Cole, "Scene: Die-Off Could Affect Klamath River for Years," Oregonian, 27 September 2002. 239 The basin's water crisis will likely have a lasting influence on the management of the Tule Lake and Lower Klamath Lake refuges. The crisis increased the bitterness farmers and some basin residents toward the FWS. Farmers believe that the agency used poor science in formulating the biological opinion that led the Bureau of Reclamation not to release water to irrigators, and they feel that the report from the National Academy of Sciences' committee vindicates their position. Certainly, the report has emboldened basin residents to fight further enforcement of the ESA. With its scientific expertise called into question, the FWS will face more opposition to any serious changes in the way it manages refuges or endangered species. Support is unlikely to come from officials with the Department of Interior or from the administration of George W. Bush. Secretary of the Interior Norton has stated on a number of occasions the president's desire to change the ESA and to reduce the economic impact of environmental regulations.59 But the death of thousands of salmon the following year only seems to confirm fears by environmentalists, Indian tribes, and federal scientists that reduced flows in the Klamath River would lead to increased salmon mortality. The National Academy of Sciences' committee was supposed to render the final scientific judgment on the water crisis. Instead, the committee came off rather poorly in the wake of the massive fish die-off in the lower reaches of the Klamath River. 6 0 Douglas Jehl, "Wetland Protection Fades," New York Times, 11 February 2003 and "On Environmental Rules, Bush Sees a Balance, Critics a Threat," New York Times, 23 February 2003. 6 0 A senior National Marine Fisheries Service (NFS) scientist also accused the agency and the Bureau of Reclamation of suppressing information that countered the bureau's goal of releasing more water to irrigators. See Laura Paskus, '"Sound Science' Goes Sour," High Country News, 23 June 2003. 240 The FWS has little choice but to continue working with Klamath Basin farmers. Its refuges are still dependent on water from irrigators, particularly in dry years when refuge staff must scramble to find water to support the marshes. The FWS faced just such a situation in 2002. While the basin received more precipitation than it had the previous year, Upper Klamath Lake was still low from the drought of 2001. To sustain refuge marshes at acceptable levels, the FWS had to request water from the Tulelake Irrigation District. In the midst of all of this, environmentalists launched another lawsuit to eliminate farming from the Tule Lake and Upper Klamath Lake refuges. The refuge staff in the Klamath Basin sees lack of water, not lease farming, as the main threat to the future of the refuges. In their view, alienating farmers will only make their job more difficult and make finding a solution to the basin's water problems more challenging. "I feel like we're in a boat swept down the river with no oars and no rudder,' said Phil Norton 6 1, the chief refuge manager for the Klamath Basin refuges. "And instead of doing anything about it, we're in the boat, fighting like hell ." 6 2 Unless the U.S. Congress rewrites the ESA and weaken its provisions, conflicts over water will likely continue. By reserving more water for fish in basin lakes and rivers, there will be less water available for the wildlife refuges. The FWS predicts that the future dry years the Tule and Lower Klamath Lake Refuges will be short of water. Legally, the needs of endangered species, Indian tribes, and the water rights of Klamath No relation to Interior Secretary Gale Norton. Quote from Ted Kerasote, "Running on Empty," Audubon Magazine, October 2001, 23. See also Jeff Barnard, "Wildlife Refuge Asks Farmers for Water for Ducks," San Francisco Chronicle, 27 August 2002; Michael Milstein, "Suit: Klamath Refuge Water Belongs to Wildlife," Oregonian, 30 October 2002; Jeff Barnard, "Lawsuit Seeks to Force Farms Off Klamath Refuges," Statesman Journal (Salem, Oregon), 30 October 2002. 241 Project irrigators who have senior water rights come before the water demands of refuges. The refuge will remain at the 'end of the line' for water until the Oregon Klamath Basin water adjudication is complete and the state recognizes the FWS's water rights for the refuges. But there is no indication when the State of Oregon will finish the adjudication (the process began over twenty-five years ago), and when it is completed, there is no guarantee the FWS will receive all the water it claimed. 6 3 At the beginning of the twenty-first century, then, the FWS faces a formidable set of challenges in the Klamath Basin. Waterfowl numbers on Tule Lake Refuge dropped by one-third over the past thirty years as the refuge sumps filled with sediment, and consequently, the remaining wetlands supported fewer ducks and geese. Securing adequate water for the refuges has always been a challenge, but the protection of endangered species in the principal reservoir for the Klamath Project and the Klamath River has made it even more difficult. Relations have deteriorated between the FWS and basin farmers, many of whom are fighting to keep their operations afloat in the face of low crop prices and restrictions on water. In addition to managing water and wildlife, the FWS faces repeated lawsuits from environmental groups hoping to eliminate lease-land farming on the Tule Lake and Lower Klamath Lake Refuges. A number of environmental groups have selected the Klamath Basin (and the wildlife refuges in the area) as one of the most threatened environments in the United States.64 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, "Implementation of the Agricultural Program on Tule Lake," 1-2 and Oregon Water Resources Department, "Resolving the Klamath." 6 4 For example, National Audubon Society (one ten U.S. wildlife refuges in a state of crisis, 2000), The Wilderness Society (one of the top 15 most endangered wildlands in the U.S., 2001), and American Rivers (selected Klamath River as one of the ten most endangered rivers in the U.S., 2003). See U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, "Implementation of the Agricultural Program on Tule Lake," 14 and American Rivers," 242 After the salmon die-off on the Klamath River in the fall of 2002, Sue Marsten, chairwoman of the Yurok Tribe, wryly noted that water management within the Klamath watershed had come down to "who has the best political connections."65 Tribes, farmers, environmental groups, the FWS, and others were all using legal and political means to gain a greater share of Klamath Basin water. Refuge managers are faced with the same water supply and quality problems as in the past, but in a more volatile political environment. The Sump at the End of the West As bad as environmental problems were in the Klamath, they paled in scale and scope to the problems surrounding the Salton Sea (Figure 5.12). During the century since its creation, the Salton Sea had served as a crucial wintering and stopover area for Pacific Flyway birds. The Imperial Irrigation District and the Coachella Valley Water District sustained the Salton Sea through the agricultural wastewater they emptied into it. Although the continued influx of water kept the sea from evaporating completely, it contributed to the sea's radical transformation. As irrigation water passed through farms, it dissolved salts in the soil and carried them into the sea, steadily increasing the salinity. By the late 1990s, the salinity of the sea reached 45,000 parts per million - about 10,000 parts per million greater than ocean water. Scientists predicted that the Salton Sea would America's Most Endangered Rivers of 2003: Ten Rivers Reaching the Crossroads in the Next 12 Months," (2003), 16-17. 6 5 Eric Bailey, "Bi l l Tackles Klamath River Woes," Los Angeles Times, 25 October 2002. 243 become hypersaline by 2020 making it inhospitable to most life except for brine shrimp, which are able to tolerate the extreme environment.66 Despite its high salinity, the Salton Sea supported multitudes of birds, including year-round residents, winter migrants, and birds resting there while en route to wintering or breeding areas. During the 1990s, up to 30,000 snow geese and 60,000 ducks wintered at the refuge each year. The lake was even better known for the thousands of white and brown pelicans, grebes and other fish eating birds that fed on the sea's abundant tilapa fish. To call the sea an oasis may sound trite, but in this case the comparison is apt since the sea lies in one of the hottest deserts in North America (over one hundred days above one hundred degrees Fahrenheit per year). After the loss of most of the Colorado River delta in the 1930s, the sea became the only major open water site in southern California and northwestern Mexico. However, the Salton Sea was not a one-to-one substitute for the lost delta lagoons and marshes. While the sea supported some of the same types of wintering birds that used the delta, it also attracted birds such as pelicans and grebes in far greater t numbers than the delta would have. The Salton Sea was a unique ecosystem made possible by large quantities of irrigation water carrying the fertilizers, which allowed fish to thrive in the lake.6 7 By the 1990s, the lake was also a death-trap for many birds. The species most seriously affected were the fish eating birds, particularly eared grebes and pelicans. When refuge staff discovered a few hundred dead eared grebes washed-up on the south shore of 6 6 deBuys and Meyers, Salt Dreams, 244 and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of the Interior, "Saving the Salton Sea: A Research Needs Assessment," (1997), 1-2. 6 7 deBuys and Meyers, Salt Dreams, 224-32 and U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation, Lower Colorado Region, "Salton Sea Study: Status Report," Boulder City, Nevada, (January 2003), 9-26. 244 the lake in 1992, they assumed that the birds died from avian cholera, a disease that commonly afflicts waterfowl elsewhere in California. Tests were inconclusive. Some suspected pesticides or selenium as the culprits, and indeed, the birds showed elevated concentrations of DDE, selenium, and other toxic substances. None of the concentrations seemed high enough to cause the death of so many birds. While the FWS tried to determine the reasons for the die-off, the grebes continued to die by the thousands, their carcasses washing ashore where refuge staff retrieved them. Eventually they collected 46,040 birds out of an estimated 150,000 that died. "It's not like I am managing a refuge now," said Charles Bloom, the manager of the Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge. "It's more like a battlefield."68 Four years later, there was another die-off of birds, this time among brown and white pelicans and ruddy ducks. This time the killer was botulism, a common but no less serious threat to Pacific Flyway birds. Pelicans contracted the disease from tilapa (a small fish that was common in the sea). After the pelicans died, maggots consumed the carcasses, which in turn, were eaten by ducks that then died as well - the disease cycle so often repeated on the Sacramento and Klamath Basin refuges. The death toll was less severe this time - only 20,000 birds dead - but the 8,500 white pelicans and 1,100 brown pelicans that died constituted 15 percent and 10 percent of the North American populations of those species. As at Kesterson a decade earlier, the death of birds attracted national media attention. Rarely, however, did the media note that the diseases killing Salton Sea birds were symptoms of a larger problem with refuges along the Pacific Quote from deBuys and Meyers, Salt Dreams, 224. 245 Flyway. Most commentators saw the pelican die-off as an isolated natural disaster or a sad wildlife spectacle.69 These wildlife disasters are but a prelude to more severe problems. Currently only four species of fish live in the Salton Sea: orange-mouth corvina, croaker, sargo, and tilapia. In time the salinity of the lake will rise to such a level that even these hardy species will die. Fish die-offs are already more common than the epidemics that kill pelicans and grebes, but attract less attention. When the salinity finally becomes too much for these fish to tolerate and the last of them die, the pelicans, grebes, and other fish eating birds that feed on them will disappear, too. Waterfowl and some sea birds could thrive in the brine shrimp-dominated ecosystem that would likely replace the fish that now live in the sea. In the meantime, the Salton Sea would become a sump filled with rotting fish carcasses, making it an unpleasant place to visit, but would produce food for the animal scavengers nearthe area. The fate of the Salton Sea is intertwined with major changes in water politics in southern California. For decades, the state of California has withdrawn more than its share of water from the Colorado River. Along with other states along the river, California signed the Colorado River Compact in 1922, which assigned each an annual deBuys and Meyers, Salt Dreams, 232-42. Indeed, the Salton Sea seemed to attract writers who saw the area as a particu