Exploring the Klamath Basin

Interested in fly fishing the Wood River from a wooden drift boat? Contact Dennis Nagel at The Endless Run for more information.


Ecology Books

Klamath Knot The Klamath Knot: Explorations of Myth and Evolution, Twentieth Anniversary Edition
by David Wallace
Edition: Paperback

Crawling out of the Ooze , January 16, 2007

From one special corner of the biosphere, David Wallace explores the evolution of life on earth. Before you say, "not another treatise on evolution," The Klamath Knot is a different animal.

Even though Wallace's knowledge of the Klamath ecosystems and the dynamics of evolution are fundamentally sound, he's grasping for much more in this book. As the smaller print under the title states, it's an "exploration of myth and evolution." The Klamath Knot represents the rare blend of hard science of the world we can observe and measure with that of the world we can only imagine or dream. That's quite a subject-matter-bridge to cross, but Wallace puts it off. Once I got a couple of chapters into the book, the distinction between science and myth began to blur (i.e., Do giants really exist? Not sure).

Wallace doles out each chapter as the creator planned it. He introduces us to rock, primal ooze, water, and ultimately life. And the backdrop for each major step of life evolving on this planet is the Klamath Mountains. A truly magical and diverse region along the California and Oregon border that stretches from the Rogue River south to the Eel River. A place that is home to old growth forests, runs of salmon and steelhead, and high deserts. Wallace takes us into some of the more remote places of the Klamath and masterfully focuses on the biological importance of each ecosystem.

The book goes well beyond the physical world and ponders some interesting questions. Like where is life on our planet headed? Is it possible to know where it's headed? What can we learn from evolution? Does life evolve from cooperation or competition or both? What is the role of myth? Does Big-Foot really exist? Could he exist? Is this creature another branch along life's tree?

I admire the author for both his skill and courage in addressing such diverse subject matter. Reading the Klamath Know will leave you with a renewed sense of wonder about the natural world.

BalancingWater Balancing Water: Restoring the Klamath Basin
by Tupper Ansel Blake
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:

Camera and Pen Weave a Story for Stewardship, December 20, 2003

Five stars... without a doubt! Blake, Blake, and Kitteridge craft a compelling case for stewardship of the ecosystems we inhabit. The story is grounded in the Klamath Basin of Southern Oregon where a complex dance of men and nature is being played out. Historically, the federal government in the form of the Bureau of Reclamation identified the water rich basin as a region to promote for farming. No surprise that today the area is largely given over to farming and ranching. Prior communities consisted of local Native Americans who for the last hundred years or so have been driven out of the basin either by our military or our legal system. And last, but not the least in importance, the bio-diversity that suffers at the hands of lost habit, chemicals used for pesticides, and misguided management by public institutions.

Farmers, the indigenous Klamath people, migrating birds and native fish, all have their claims to the basin. From recalling the basin from his early childhood to driving the dirt roads to meet the 3rd generation farmers and ranchers, William Kitteridge's writing is exceptional at putting real faces and names to this place.

The story is made sublime with some of the most outstanding western wildlife photography you are likely to find. The photographs represent the sacredness of a place that serves as a stop for millions of migrating birds that no words can begin to portray.

A tragic postscript to the publishing of this book was a fish kill of some 30 thousand salmon on their way up the Klamath River to their spawning beds. Its been concluded that in stream flows got drawn down to the point where the migrating salmon stacked up in swallow and warm pools which ultimately depleted the water of oxygen. Only recently have federal wildlife managers admitted that diversion of water to farmers in the basin caused the massive fish kill in the Klamath.

Native Home of Hope Reclaiming The Native Home Of Hope
by Robert B Keiter
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:

Useful and Inspired Writing,
January 12, 2003

Reclaiming the Native Home of Hope delivers a top-notch set of essays and case studies on western ecosystems, species re-introduction, land management, and conservation. The majority of the setting is focused on the Utah wilderness with other stories spiraling out to the Great Basin and Colorado Plateau areas.

The essays challenge the traditional thinking about the best uses for these remote and relatively unpopulated areas (e.g., mining and ranching) and bring the natural qualities to the top of the list. The book's arguments to preserve ecosystems of the west are balanced with constructive thoughts on ways to preserve jobs and private land.

Stephen Trimble sums up the motivation for spending time in open, natural spaces in an essay called "Letting Go of the Rim." The kind of story that would have left Wallace Stegner smiling.

Gaia Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth
by James Lovelock
Edition: Paperback

13 of 16 people found the following review helpful:

Imagine an organism as big as Earth!, June 8, 2003

Reading Edward Wilson's "The Future of Life" served as the spark to pick up and read this book. And its true, good things do come in small packages. The book is all of 140 pages, and is written in a lean, but not glossed-over style. Robert Lovelock (to my knowledge) is the contemporary father of the study of the earth as a complete living system.

Lovelock readily admits that the book serves more to promote the dialog about our planet as a living, breathing whole and to share key discoveries that support his concept. (He states in the Preface that his follow-on book, "The Ages of Gaia" aims to build the scientific argument to the Gaia theory.)

By no means, does Lovelock detour around the science that supports his case. With the scope of the topic requiring knowledge of both physical and biological science, and the small number of pages, he manages to instruct and create a sense of awe in a short amount of time.

The 3 major principles he brings to light about Gaia are:
  • Gaia exhibits a tendency to keep conditions (e.g., temperature, air quality) constant for all terrestrial life.
  • Like other living systems, Gaia has vital organs at the core, and expandable or redundant ones on the periphery.
  • Under the worse conditions, Gaia responses similar to other cybernetic systems (i.e., where time constant and loop gain are important)

The material is far reaching in both its scope and in shaping our understanding of where we stand. Put in the context of Gaia, we have straddled ourselves to the largest of all known living and breathing creatures.