Drought Spurs Water Fight in the Klamath Basin

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Wildlife refuge turned into tilled farmland in Klamath Valley

Draining the marshes in the Klamath Basin exposed fertile farmland, and areas critical to wildlife are now under cultivation. Jeff Brady, NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Jeff Brady, NPR

The battle over water continues in the Klamath River Basin on the Oregon-California border. Another year of drought has been declared, which may spell more trouble for the region.

A century ago, the Bureau of Reclamation drained huge marshes in the region, exposing fertile soil. For a long time it seemed like a good situation for all involved. Then species of wildlife which had depended on the marshes began to suffer.

Farmers and their supporters in the region protested four years ago when the federal government shut off irrigation water to help endangered fish. And while farmers and the government say they're doing a lot more to protect endangered species now, environmentalists say the core issue is being ignored: There just isn't enough water to meet all needs.

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