Bureau of Reclamation Plans to De-Water Part of the Upper Deschutes


The Bureau of Reclamation plans to stop all water flowing out of Crane Prairie Reservoir for up to 8 hours later this month, tentatively on October 30th, de-watering the Deschutes River for about 1.5 miles down to Wickiup Reservoir.  This is to perform an inspection of the dam.  It  will also kill a section of the river that is important for spawning and holds some nice fish.  See the photo above of my friend Jake with a nice brown trout from this stretch.

BoR claims that this will not be an issue as fishing season is over and they will ramp down flows starting the day before in the hope that some fish will find their way down to a depleted Wickiup Reservoir.  Of course, slowly ramping down to no water still means no water in the end.  There will be stranded/killed fish, along with destruction of the aquatic habitat.

Kokanee are currently spawning in this stretch of river, reducing flows to zero will kill their eggs.  Exposing the river bottom, especially if the weather is cold, will kill aquatic plants and the insects that fish rely on for food.  Brown trout will just be starting to spawn about this time and will be impacted as well.  Redband trout spawn in the spring but will encounter reduced food supply and degraded spawning beds.

It is reasonable that the BoR shuts off flows through Crane Prairie Dam to provide safety for divers inspecting the structure for safety.  No one wants a diver sucked down river.  It is also reasonable, however, for the BoR to provide enough continued flow, perhaps pumping from the surface over the top of the dam, to not kill this section.  I guess aquatic habitat and the species it supports is just not important to them.