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$15 million announced for habitat restoration projects in the Klamath Basin

Lower Klamath Wildlife Refuge in 2021
Erik Neumann
Waterfowl in a marsh at the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge in 2021.

On Tuesday the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced a new batch of funding for ecosystem restoration in the Klamath Basin. The region along the Oregon-California border has been hit with multi-year droughts, and suffers from excess demand for water.

The $15 million in funding will come from the federal government’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which was passed by Congress in late 2021.

“Anything that improves the ecological infrastructure of the Basin we’re interested in learning about,” said Matt Baun, the Klamath coordinator with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

A total of $162 million was earmarked for the Klamath Basin over five years from the infrastructure law. This is the second year of funding. Organizations that are eligible include nonprofits, academic institutions, tribes and even community groups. Projects could range from fisheries restoration and water quality work to agricultural projects and efforts to improve waterfowl habitat.

Potential restoration projects could take place in a geographically broad area, stretching from the basin’s headwaters near Oregon’s Crater Lake to the mouth of the Klamath River on the Pacific Ocean in California.

With the most funding for the drought-stricken region in 20 years and other parallel restoration projects happening like the removal of four hydroelectric dams, Baun said it’s an exciting time to be working on conservation in the Klamath Basin.

“You have some big thinking going on with Klamath Dam removal, a lot of the tribes are engaged in really interesting restoration work. There are a lot of, frankly, problems. But these problems can be addressed,” he said.

The deadline for pre-proposals is April 14, which will allow applicants to get feedback from the Fish and Wildlife Service. The application deadline will be June 14 and they hope to announce which projects will be funded by the end of August.

Erik Neumann is JPR's news director. He earned a master's degree from the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and joined JPR as a reporter in 2019 after working at NPR member station KUER in Salt Lake City.