Williamson River

Expanding a premier national wildlife refuge for birds, fish, wildlife and people

Western Rivers Conservancy conserved the 2,200-acre Timmerman Ranch, which sits on the northeastern edge of Oregon’s Klamath Marsh National Wildlife Refuge and includes three miles of the famed Williamson River. Photos by Tom and Pat Leeson.

The upper Williamson River rises in the Fremont-Winema National Forest in the Cascade Mountains and flows through the Timmerman Ranch (above) and into Klamath Marsh. It then continues to upper Klamath Lake, the headwaters of the Klamath River.

By conserving Timmerman Ranch, WRC has improved both water quality and quantity in the Williamson River and Klamath Marsh, which will help relieve pressure on the Klamath River system.

Timmerman Ranch and Klamath Marsh sit at the heart of the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Reserve Complex, which spans tens of thousands of acres in northern California and southern Oregon and is home to some of the best bird habitat in North America. It is especially important for ducks, including northern pintail (pictured).

Northern shoveler (pictured) is one of more than 263 species of birds that visit or live in the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Reserve Complex. WRC’s efforts have protected and improved habitat for birds, fish and other wildlife.

Each season, tens of thousands of birds arrive on the Timmerman Ranch, including sandhill crane (above), Foster’s tern, dowitchers, sandpipers, trumpeter swans, gadwall, cinnamon teal and dozens of others.

Timmerman Ranch was formerly owned by the legendary Bill “Kitt” Kittredge, who began ranching the area in the early 1900s. It has been run as a cattle ranch since that time. WRC transfered the property to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which plans to improve habitat across the ranch through restoration and increased stream flows.

A northern river otter pokes its head out of the grass along the Williamson River on the property WRC conserved.

The Williamson River is famed for the scale-tipping rainbow trout of the lower river and is home to redband rainbow trout, endangered Lost River sucker, endangered shortnose sucker and the state-sensitive Miller lake lamprey. All of these fish will benefit from WRC’s efforts to improve water quality and stream flows on the upper Williamson.

Sun sets over the 2,200-acre Timmerman Ranch.