The Ambo Fund
In partnership with The Klamath Tribes, Seeding Justice is proud to present The Ambo Fund, which accepts contributions from foundations and individuals to directly benefit The Klamath Tribes as they work to save the endangered c’waam and koptu fish populations in the upper Klamath Lake area, provide restoration to the upper Klamath Lake and its nearby riparian areas, and continue to defend their rightful ownership of water rights in the basin.
In addition, a special (sepk’eec’a – Thank You) goes out to Natalie Ball, Kaila Farrell-Smith and Se-ah-dom Edmo for bringing this idea forward to the Klamath Tribal Council.
Seeding Justice, formerly MRG Foundation, Creates Community Fund in partnership with Klamath Tribes
“The Ambo Fund” was established in response to the crisis for clean water in the Klamath Basin and to help save two critically endangered fish on the brink of extinction.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 5, 2021
Willa Powless, Tribal Council, 541-783-2219 ext. 182, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Alex Gonyaw, Aquatics Biologist, 541-783-2249 ext. 224, email@example.com
Samantha Bakall, Communications Director, Seeding Justice, 503-289-1517 ext. 6, firstname.lastname@example.org
Klamath Falls, OR — In June 2021, Seeding Justice, previously known as “MRG Foundation,” created The Ambo Fund in response to the crisis for clean water in the Klamath Basin, and to help save two critically endangered fish — First Foods for the Klamath Tribes — on the brink of extinction: the c’waam (Lost River Sucker) and koptu (shortnosed sucker).
This unique Community Fund, named with the Klamath word for water and seed funded with $100,000 from Seeding Justice, will allow the Klamath Tribes to accept donations to protect their fish, water, and citizens as they face steep legal costs, community conflict, and work towards continued restoration efforts on nearly 10,000 acres of land.
“For years, the Klamath Basin has been living far beyond what its water budget can tolerate,” Tribal Council Secretary Roberta Frost said. “We cannot keep pretending to be surprised by poor water years and conflicts among agriculture and endangered species, nor can people hope to keep relying on single year, quick-fix bailouts to paper over the systemic problems. The catastrophe of this year throws into stark relief how desperately the Basin needs to move to a more sustainable footing.”
The clock is ticking for these endangered fish as annual toxic algae blooms kill most of the young fish that are the future of the species. Adult fish can live for 30 years or more, but most are reaching the end of their natural lifespans. Scientists with the Tribes fear they could be extinct in fewer than 5 to 10 years. In 1986, the Tribes voluntarily stopped fishing these fish, and in 1988 both species were placed on the Endangered Species List.
“The collapse of c’waam and koptu fisheries has marched virtually in lock step with the declining health of Upper Klamath Lake, the largest body of freshwater west of the Rocky Mountains,” Councilwoman Willa Powless said. “The lake was once a major destination for boating, birding, wildlife watching, paddling, and fishing. Today, people avoid the lake from late spring into fall in most years due to chronically low lake levels and severe toxic algae blooms.”
Although the lake is listed as a toxic water body and people are advised to not drink the water, the water is still used to irrigate crops, said Dr. Alex Gonyaw, the Klamath Tribes’ aquatics biologist.
“It’s poison essentially,” he said. “It contains a neurotoxin…that [we use the water to irrigate crops] strikes me as absurd.”
The Ambo Fund will streamline the process for donating to the Klamath Tribes and accepts contributions from foundations and individuals to directly benefit The Klamath Tribes as they work to save the endangered c’waam and koptu fish populations in the upper Klamath Lake. Their goal is to provide fish restoration to upper Klamath Lake, rebuild riparian areas, and continue to defend their rightful ownership of water rights in the basin.
“This is an opportunity for everyday people to show their support for the Klamath Tribes in a real and tangible way,” said Seeding Justice Executive Director Se-ah-dom Edmo. “The drought has only exacerbated the declining health of the Upper Klamath Lake. If we don’t act now, we likely won’t get another chance.”
The Klamath Tribes Aquatics Department plans to create an ‘Adopt a Fish & Habitat’ Program.
Though still in the beginning stages, this program will allow people to “adopt” as many c’waam and koptu as they’d like, where they will be uniquely identified, given an identification number, and released into Klamath Lake. People will be able to monitor their location in the lake and monitor their life journey.
“The Tribes and this fish are in a precarious and dreadful situation, but we will never give up,” Dr. Gonyaw said. “By spreading the word and creating a unique opportunity, we are determined to save these fish from extinction.”
To learn more about The Ambo Fund, please visit Seeding Justice’s website. For the latest news on the Fund, visit Seeding Justice’s Facebook, Twitter or Instagram,
or the Klamath Tribes website at: www.klamathtribes.org