Crooked River disaster on the horizon? UPDATED

Every month a group of local, state, and federal government agencies, Ochoco Irrigation District, the Confederate Tribes of Warm Springs, and others meet to discuss water releases out of Prineville Reservoir into the Crooked River. The minutes of that meeting are distributed to a wider audience, including yours truly. The June 1 minutes were released a few days ago and I had the chance to read them today. If you care about the Crooked River you should be extremely concerned. I encourage you keep reading and to contact Gregg Garnett, the Bend Field Office Manager of the Bureau of Reclamation at or (541) 389-6541 x226.

At the June 1 meeting OID stated that they currently plan to stop irrigation deliveries in mid to late August. Greg Garnett stated that the BoR would only maintain a minimum release of 10 cfs after that time! 10 cfs! In August and September, the hottest time of the year! While OID plans to stop releases in August, irrigation season technically extends into October. At that time the Habitat Conservation Plan requires that 50 cfs be released until next irrigation season. But 1.5 to 2 months at 10 cfs could kill the Wild & Scenic section below Bowman Dam.

Simply incredible.

UPDATE: I posted this last night, quickly received emails asking for more information, so here I am before 6 am adding some info before I head out on a multiday fishing trip. (Note to self: don’t check emails when heading out the door on a fishing trip.) Here are the meeting minutes. Clearly, weeks of 10 cfs is a death sentence for the Crooked. Even 50 cfs, the amount called for in the winter by the HCP, is under the flows recommended by ODFW. For some inexplicable reason, the HCP only covers non-irrigation season flow levels. You could ask Bridget Moran at the Bend office of the US Fish & Wildlife Service about that. At the end of the day, however, BoR makes the final call on releases from Prineville Reservoir. Hence my recommendation to contact them. I would ask for flows to never go below 50 cfs.

UPDATE 2: Most local anglers think of the Crooked River as the Wild & Scenic section below Bowman Dam. Of course, the river continues all the way to Lake Billy Chinook. While the Bureau of Reclamation has made the commitment to release at least 10 cfs after Ochoco Irrigation District stops their calls sometime in August, there are other irrigators that also take water from the Crooked below the Wild & Scenic section. So, the river could get even lower than 10 cfs by the time it reaches the City of Prineville.