Oregon

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.
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.
Photography | Tom and Pat Leeson
A northern river otter pokes its head out of the grass along the Williamson River on the property WRC conserved.
A northern river otter pokes its head out of the grass along the Williamson River on the property WRC conserved.
Photography | 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.
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.
Photography | Tom and Pat Leeson
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.
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.
Photography | Tom and Pat Leeson
Sun sets over the 2,200-acre Timmerman Ranch.
Sun sets over the 2,200-acre Timmerman Ranch.
Photography | Tom and Pat Leeson
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).
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).
Photography | Tom and Pat Leeson
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.
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.
Photography | Tom and Pat Leeson
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.
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.
Photography | Pat Clayon/Engebretson Photography
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.
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.
Photography | Tom and Pat Leeson
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.
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.
Photography | Tom and Pat Leeson

Every year, millions of birds—ducks, geese, songbirds, swans, herons, grebes and others—take to the skies along the Pacific Flyway, an aerial super-highway stretching from Patagonia to Alaska. Along the way, fully two-thirds of them descend on the upper Klamath Basin, where six national wildlife refuges protect a freshwater mosaic of lakes and meadows that draw more than 260 bird species throughout the year. Western Rivers Conservancy had the rare opportunity to expand one of these refuges—the Klamath Marsh National Wildlife Refuge—with vital wetlands and stream flows that will rejuvenate the Klamath Marsh and upper Williamson River for birds, fish, wildlife and recreationists alike.

Our effort centers on the Williamson River, a renowned trout stream that winds through the 40,000-acre Klamath Marsh and then provides much of the inflows to Upper Klamath Lake, the source of the Klamath River.

Where the Williamson enters the wildlife refuge, WRC conserved the 2,200-acre Timmerman Ranch, which holds significant water rights along the river. Three miles of the Williamson meander through the property and feed a series of wet meadows that provide excellent feeding and nesting habitat for waterfowl and crucial water for the adjacent refuge. We conveyed the land, along with the ranch's water rights, to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to expand the wildlife refuge and recreate the river’s natural meanders, helping to ensure the Williamson’s consistent, spring-fed flows continue to sustain these vast wetlands.

Each season, tens of thousands of birds arrive on the property, including sandhill crane, Foster’s tern, dowitchers, sandpipers, trumpeter swans, gadwall, cinnamon teal and dozens of other species. Some 200 pairs (roughly half of the West’s breeding population) of the secretive yellow rail, a tiny, rarely seen marsh bird, nest in the Klamath Marsh. Deer, elk, antelope and the state-sensitive American fisher all rely on the property’s ponderosa pine forests. The project also benefits the Williamson’s scale-tipping native redband and rainbow trout, as well as two endangered sucker fish and the state-sensitive Miller Lake lamprey.

Our efforts at Timmerman Ranch have improved water conditions in the upper Williamson and Klamath Marsh, benefitting the Klamath River system as a whole. By delivering increased headwater flows and better water quality, this project will bolster the efforts of all who depend on a healthy Klamath River, including the Klamath Tribes, the agricultural community and recreationists. Most of all, we have improved conditions for the fish and wildlife of the Klamath River system, which sustains some of the most diverse bird life and greatest salmon runs in the West.

For up to date access information please visit the Klamath Marsh National Wildlife Refuge website.

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