Lake Abert Storybook
Lake Abert is a rich ecosystem teeming with life. See more images of this incredible saline environment in our storybook.Flip through
Two invertebrates are able to tolerate the salinity of Lake Abert — the alkali fly (Ephydra hians) and brine shrimp (Artemia franciscana) — but only when water salinity levels are between 3 and 8%. When salinity drops below or rises above that threshold, the fly and shrimp populations plummet due to inhospitable conditions.
Since these two species serve as the main source of food for migrating birds, reductions in brine shrimp or alkali fly abundance create a major disruption along the Pacific Flyway.
Unfortunately, water withdrawals, reservoir construction and drought have reduced water flow into the lake, increasing its salinity or drying up the lake altogether. With the food gone, migratory birds can no longer stop at this lake to replenish their energy.
Lake Abert is an indispensable ecosystem where birdwatchers and nature lovers have appreciated the wonders of the salt lake for decades. But the future of this lake is at risk.
Although Lake Abert and the adjacent Abert Rim are identified by the Bureau of Land Management as Areas of Critical Environmental Concern, the lake itself does not have any water rights so upstream withdrawals from the Chewaucan River, can leave the lake with little or no water, especially during drought years.
Long-term conservation, management and restoration of the unique habitat at Lake Abert requires a deep understanding of its hydrology, biology and ecology. It also requires the state of Oregon to improve water management, measurement, and regulation, and for local, regional and national stakeholders to work together to ensure the lake is provided the water it needs to thrive.
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