How one Oregon farmer turned his barley field into a bird sanctuary

Landowners around the world are returning their fields to nature in a hopeful trend often referred to as rewilding. In 2021, an Oregon farmer in the Klamath River Basin decided to take the plunge and converted 70 acres of barley on his 400-acre farm back to the wetland habitat that was there before the area was drained for farmland. Now, just two year later, the new wetland supports migrating waterbirds and endangered fish, reports The Guardian. It also acts as a buffer to keep harmful pollution from farm fertilizers from seeping into the adjacent Klamath Lake.

While this wetland is still young, it could provide a roadmap for other farmers in the Klamath River Basin, which has lost more than 95 percent of its precolonial wetlands. That’s the hope of the Wetlands Initiatives, a nonprofit that is working to make farm-based wetlands commonplace in the future, acting as a boon to biodiversity and a natural way to mitigate the impacts of climate change.