Cue the dirge…

It’s almost time for a funeral for the Wild & Scenic section of the Crooked River. It took a few days, but yesterday evening Ochoco Irrigation District and the Bureau of Reclamation reduced the river below Prineville Reservoir 12 cfs. Today I went to pay my respects and take some photos. It is so sad. Don’t forget, the river below the City of Prineville has been in even worse shape, running at 1 to 2 cfs for weeks*, at a time when over 80 spring chinook have been attempting to move up to spawning grounds. Today I left my office in Bend early and drove to the Prineville Reservoir and then down to the bottom of the Wild & Scenic section. Below are photos, videos, and some commentary.

Here’s the river at the top of the Big Bend campground parking lot.

It almost looks OK from a distance, but I waded to the middle in my rubber boots and as you can see in this video, the water does not even cover my feet.

Here’s the best I could do using my phone to capture how much water is coming out of the dam. I saw a few fish swimming up the outflow trying to escape the river.

I did not see any dead fish, so the strategy of lowering the river slowly seems to have helped them find pools, but it will not help much. The pools are shallow, slow moving to the point of looking stagnant, and will soon become deoxygenated. Additionally, if air temperatures warm up as is forecasted next week these pools could easily become too hot for trout. Today it was overcast and the air temperature was about 60 degrees. The water temperature was 64 degrees. I did see herons and osprey having an easy time catching fish in the pools. I assume the otters will be feasting for a short time as well.

I did see one “sportsman” fly fishing in a very poplar spot. I guess he left his moral compass at home.

* Now that OID irrigation withdrawals have stopped, the river below the City of Prineville has actually come up a little. This may or may not last as other irrigation diversions are still legal.