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Oregon Lakes Association

....a voice for quiet waters.

Lake Abert, Oregon

Oregon's Hypersaline Lake Abert

On-line conference recorded Monday, January 23
Sponsored by Oregon State University  & Oregon Lakes Association


Theo Dreher, Oregon State University & Oregon Lakes Association: Introduction,       0:00

Ron Larson, OLA, formerly US-Fisheries & Wildlife Service: An Introduction to the Recent Ecology, Hydrology and Conservation Status of Lake Abert,  5:35

Susan Haig, Oregon State University, formerly US Geological Survey: Bird dependency on Lake Abert and nearby wetlands, 27:35

Stan & Nathan Senner, formerly National Audubon Society & University of Massachusetts: Saline lakes and the birds that depend on them in the Pacific Flyway, 51:25

David Herbst, University of California Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Laboratory: Invertebrate productivity in hypersaline lakes, 1:13:45

Larry O’Neill, Oregon State University & Oregon State Climatologist: Climate predictions for SE Oregon and future scenarios for the Chewaucan Watershed, 1:45:55

Erica Fleishman, Oregon State University & Oregon Climate Change Research Institute: Ecological responses to climate change in the northwestern Great Basin,  2:07:35

Adam Hudson, US Geological Survey, Denver: Paleoclimate effects on tui chub populations and lake levels in the Chewaucan basin for the past 15,000 years, 2:25:25

Discussion, 2:50:00

Prior Publications

What is the status and future of Lake Abert?What is the status and future of Lake Abert?

Responses to Primary Questions motivating the Workshop on Southcentral Oregon Saline Lakes, November 2022, US Geological Survey Ron Larson and Tamara Wood for the Oregon Lakes Association December 2022

Read the Full Report, reissued Jan 2023 

 Erratum: the January 2023 version of this document corrects a previous error in Fig. 13 (2015 lake levels)

December 2022 Summary: Recommendations/Findings

  1. Climate change will further exacerbate water shortages in the Chewaucan Basin; therefore, action is needed to ensure that both agriculture and the lake ecosystem are equitably sustained.
  2. Lake Abert merits a high priority for conservation efforts because it is a rare and highly productive ecosystem that has supported large numbers of migratory waterbirds.
  3. Future water-use decisions in the Chewaucan Basin require development of an accurate water budget. The USGS and the State of Oregon, with help from stakeholders, should undertake an Integrated Water Availability Assessment of the Chewaucan Basin to clarify how climate change is affecting and will affect both agriculture and the lake ecosystem and to help develop solutions that are equitable and feasible.
  4. Unavailable data needs include measurements of: A. Net irrigation diversions; B. Groundwater withdrawal and availability; C.ET from agricultural fields and the lake; D. Precipitation amounts on the lake and agricultural fields; E. River and tributary flows below Paisley; F. Inflows to the lake from adjacent springs and seasonal creeks; and H. Predictions of future Chewaucan Basin water availability.
  5. Continued monitoring of waterbird assemblages at the lake is critical to understand how the combined effects of irrigation and climate change are affecting bird abundances.
  6. Monitoring of alkali fly and brine shrimp populations, as well as Ctenocladus algal productivity, is needed to clarify how their populations are being affected by the wide swings in salinity and reductions in lake area.
  7. Research is needed on the resilience of Lake Abert's hypersaline ecosystem, including bird populations dependent on the lake.

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