Yesterday, the Bulletin published my column on Facebook’s use of water in Prineville and its impact on the Crooked River. Another part of the Bulletin article to which I was responding briefly mentioned the Ingram Meadow Restoration Project in the Ochoco Mountains stating it was a Facebook project that is benefitting our local environment. Clearly, restoring natural habitat is a worthy endeavor to be supported. It is not at all clear, however, what role Facebook played in this US Forest Service project or how it helps offset their significant use of water many miles downstream. If Facebook, or Apple, really want to provide benefit that directly offsets the impact of their data centers on the Crooked River there is a restoration project in their backyard they should fund.
Update: I have been told that Facebook donated $30K to the National Forest Foundation which was then forwarded to the USFS for the Ingram Meadow Project. The total spent on “Meadow and Riparian Enhancement” was $150K.
In 2020 the US Forest Service completed the Ingram Meadow Restoration project, part of a larger project in the Ochoco National Forest. The Bulletin article stated this was a Facebook project and did not discuss how it might be different from the USFS efforts or what Facebook’s role was. There is no mention of Facebook in the USFS completion report on the Ingram Meadow Restoration project. Regardless, meadow, wetland, and riparian restoration projects are clearly worthy endeavors that provide benefits to aquatic and other forms of wildlife. Kudos to the US Forest Service.
Another restoration project is currently underway adjacent to the City of Prineville at the confluence of Ochoco and McKay Creeks and the Crooked River. The Deschutes Land Trust’s 185 acre Ochoco Preserve will restore what were once large and important wetlands. Wetlands create habitat for fish and wildlife, filter pollutants, and absorb water during wet periods. This water is later released during dry periods, helping to maintain cool flows year round. The Crooked River below Prineville is an ecological disaster during irrigation season and will benefit greatly from this project.
The DLT is currently searching for funding for this worthwhile endeavor. With their support, Facebook and Apple could help offset some of their negative impacts on the Crooked River below Prineville. The Crooked River needs real solutions, the Deschutes Land Trust’s Ochoco Preserve will be one of them.