Merkley, Wyden Announce Major Investments in the Klamath Basin

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden today announced that the Department of the Interior (DOI) is investing nearly $26 million in the Klamath Basin through the first year of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The projects include nearly $16 million for ecosystem restoration and $10 million to expand the Klamath Falls National Fish Hatchery.

The Bureau of Reclamation, in collaboration with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, will also fund an additional $2.2 million in grants to improve fish and wildlife habitat for coho salmon in the basin.

This historic federal funding comes at a critical time in the Klamath Basin, as water deliveries for irrigation are ceasing amid another year of extreme drought. The investments mark a major step forward for federal agencies, state partners, Klamath Basin tribes, and agricultural producers who are working together to realize long-term solutions.

“The Klamath Basin has fought to survive back-to-back summers of the worst drought in memory. From businesses and families to fish and wildlife, the impact of the drought throughout the basin is deep,” said Merkley, who serves as Chairman of the Interior Subcommittee on Appropriations which oversees funding for USFWS. “This funding is key to supporting priorities in the region that will make the water we have go further for the farmers, households, and ecosystems in the basin, including infrastructure improvements and habitat restoration. We still have a long way to go, but I am glad the Department of Interior is actively engaging in the basin and putting the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding to good use. It’s proof that when local leaders, state and federal partners, and tribes work collaboratively, we can make a real difference.”

“This federal investment comes as welcome news to help Oregonians in the Klamath Basin weather the historic drought that’s devastated the region,” Wyden said. “With no rain in immediate sight this summer, there’s obviously much more work to be done during this brutally tough water year.  But I’m gratified the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that I and Senator Merkley supported has generated these federal resources for species recovery and habitat restoration to make sure every precious drop of water goes as far as possible in the Basin. Today’s announcement provides a solid building block to continue working with the federal agencies and the state on a long-term, sustainable solution for farmers, Tribes and everybody in the community. I’m all in on being a part of that team until that solution is achieved.”

Among today’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law investments impacting Oregon:

  1. $10 million for Expansion of the Klamath Falls National Fish Hatchery
  2. $2,668,147 for Improving Wetland Habitat through Irrigation Efficiencies on Lower Klamath and Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuges
  3. $1,198,378 for the Klamath River Pit Tag Coalition Infrastructure Development Project
  4. $913,786 for the Klamath Tribes Salmon Reintroduction program
  5. $903,075 for the Fringe Wetland Restoration Master Plan for The Keno Reach of the Klamath River
  6. $875,061 for Klamath Tribes Sucker Rearing program expansion
  7. $500,000 for Restoration of the Upper Williamson River including Rocky Ford Ranch
  8. $231,714 for Sprague Watershed Low-Tech Process-Based Restoration Collaboration
  9. $225,576 for the Lower Williamson River Bothwell Property Spawning Gravel Augmentation and Large Wood Placement Project
  10. $200,000 for Williamson River Delta Preserve (WRDP) Phosphorus Capture Potential
  11. $150,000 for Restoration of the Barkley Springs Complex
  12. $147,117 for development of models for predicting annelid hosts in the Klamath River Hydroelectric Reach
  13. $107,086 for Climate Change Resiliency Stream Restoration and Post-Bootleg Fire Stream Stabilization and Restoration
  14. $50,000 for Upper Klamath Lake Shoreline Sucker Spawning Habitat

In total, Chairman Merkley secured $162 million in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for habitat restoration efforts in the Klamath Basin. Today’s investments come in addition to $15 million in annual funding that Merkley secured for fiscal year 2022 to support ongoing activities in the basin that are based on priorities identified in the 2018 Sucker Summit that he convened.

Together, Senators Merkley and Wyden are committed to supporting collaborative, community-generated solutions to this complex issue as they continue to urge for unity in the region.

For a comprehensive list of the latest projects and investments in the Klamath Basin, click HERE.