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Conservation groups say one of the largest wetlands on the West Coast has been allowed to go virtually dry this fall.

The Klamath Basin refuges are a key stop for migrating tundra swans and snow geese, says Steve Pedery of Oregon Wild.

“The wetlands in these refuges are really the smallest point in the hourglass,” he said. “This is where these birds stop to rest, to feed and sort of refuel before they continue the next leg of their migration.“

Pedery says this year, the refuges have just a quarter of the water they need to support the fall migration.

His group and others want the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to send more water to the wetlands. The Bureau of Reclamation is in charge of water diversions in the Klamath basin.

A spokesman for the bureau says the agency is legally required to deliver water to farmers and to salmon first, and he is hopeful Reclamation will able to release more water into the refuges in October.

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