YEAR-END ISSUE: TULE CONTROVERSY
Congratulations on the excellent article Is Tule Too Good for Ducks? (SI, Dec. 21). You are doing an outstanding public service by focusing national attention on this deliberate and insidious plan to destroy the magnificent Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge.
Tule Lake and the adjacent Lower Klamath refuge are the waterfowl crossroads of the Pacific flyway. It is inconceivable that lands so valuable for ducks and geese, which are not in surplus, should ever be sacrificed to homesteading for the growing of crops that would add to the nation's agricultural headaches.
C. R. GUTERMUTH
Absolutely no mention is made of the fact that this has been one of the driest years in history in this area and that there is little water anywhere and none in many places that the birds usually use. The dryness was not due to ranchers' greed but to nature's whim. I like to hunt as much as the next fellow and want to see the birds protected, too, but on this kind of argument let's take a look at both sides before we make up our minds.
?It was not an act of God that dried up Tule Lake but the diversion of water from the lake to irrigate farm land. It was indeed a dry summer, with the farmer competing with ducks and geese for water, but the farmers of the Tulelake Irrigation District have a contractual obligation to maintain the water level of Tule.—ED.
Many times those of us who are actively engaged in the never-ending battle of preserving the magnificent runs of migratory fish into Idaho against the encroachment of power-producing projects feel that ours is the unheard cry in the wilderness. To anyone who has ever caught a steelhead or bagged a Canadian honker any fight to preserve them is worth-while.
JAMES W. GIVENS
My husband and I came here to Tule as homesteaders in 1929. One of the reasons for our coming here was the ducks and geese. The refuge was not here when we came and Tule Lake was an up-and-down sump. Since then, chiefly at the expense of the farmers, the lake is diked and fairly even in level. We have always been friends of the Fish and Wildlife people, and most of them cooperated with the farmers.
This year is a dry one—the worst we have ever seen. Why don't you mention that our rainfall has been almost nil in this past year? Why don't you say that other lakes in this vicinity are at very low levels and that many reservoirs are dry? Klamath Lake—the source of our irrigation water—is unusually low.
When the hunters arrived from Los Angeles and San Francisco at the opening of the hunting season the lake level was down a few inches. Our Tulelake Irrigation District manager had assumed that we would have some fall moisture to make the difference in the lake level. We have always had it heretofore. We had absolutely no rain, and there was, of course, no runoff. Late in October water was turned down to Tule Lake from Upper Klamath. There had been many birds in the refuge, but the hunters were handicapped by mud and the firing line was hard to reach. The howl comes not from local hunters but from the many who flock here from the cities—and did they howl!
Now we have had a little stormy weather and the ducks and geese are pouring in. Hunting is excellent. But the hunters who protested so furiously are not here.
The sad part of this story is that the farmers are being called unfair and in consequence will probably be less tolerant of the many hunters who have been allowed to hunt on our land. We, the farmers, feed thousands of birds, the main reason why they stop here.