Klamath Fishing Report

Karl with a Williamson River trout.

I have been avoiding fishing in the Klamath Basin this summer due to the drought and fires but decided I had waited as long as I could and spent 5 days over the past two weekends on some of my favorite bodies of water in that area. There were days with some smoke and it was hot at times, but the fishing was surprisingly good. The places I visited needed more water, but there was enough to support fish and the water quality was excellent.

The added bonus is that in those five days I saw a total of five other anglers. Five! Plus two kayakers. You need to know where to go, but that sort of experience is long gone in Central Oregon. Osprey, goose, and beavers were everywhere. Pelicans, herons, and many other birds as well. Sand hill cranes and coyotes called to each other in the morning.

Read More »

The Endangered Species Act is Not the Problem

A few days ago the Bend Bulletin ran an opinion piece from a local farmer that partially blamed the Endangered Species Act for irrigator water shortages. Below is the response I submitted. Let’s see if they print it.

7/29/21 UPDATE: That was fast, it’s in today’s paper.


The Bulletin recently ran a guest column from a Central Oregon farmer asserting that the Endangered Species Act is partly to blame for current water shortages.  Many local farmers need more water, but the column is written from a perspective that does not hold up to objective analysis.

Read More »

2021 Pelton Round Butte Fisheries Workshop Executive Summary

Portland General Electric and the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, co-owners of the Pelton Round Butte Hydroelectric Project on the Deschutes River, held their annual fisheries workshop today. I have been attending these events for many years and can wrap this one up pretty easily. While some of the numbers have changed, the bottom line is that the goal of reintroducing summer steelhead, spring chinook, and sockeye into the Upper Deschutes Basin remains elusive. The number of returning adults of all three species continues to be a small fraction of what is required for self-sustaining populations. That being said, there are good, dedicated people working on the effort and they continue to adapt based on the results of on-going scientific work. Also, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife reported that their annual fish sampling once again shows that the operation of the Selective Water Withdrawal tower has had no negative impact on trout populations in the Lower Deschutes River. As detailed in their presentation, trout density and size continues to be the same or better than before the SWW become operational. In a follow up conversation, ODFW confirmed that trout condition factors (health) also continue to be good. I believe that reintroduction remains a worthwhile effort. The biggest issues remain outside the control of PGE/CTWS: low flows in the Crooked River (where most fish want to go), high temperatures, and poor ocean conditions.

The Klamath Basin is Dying

Readers of this blog know I have an affinity for fishing in the Klamath Basin. Today the longstanding drought is the most severe ever and the situation is dire.  Rivers are at all time lows, the national wildlife refuge is now home to dust devils, migratory birds will soon have no place to rest and eat on their flight north, Upper Klamath Lake is so low that native fish cannot spawn, groundwater is dropping from unsustainable extraction, high temperatures are creating unprecedented kills of salmon in the Klamath River, forests are burning (around some great places to fish), and farmers are losing their livelihoods.  There simply is not enough water to go around. 

WaterWatch’s South Oregon Program Director Jim McCarthy recently had an excellent interview on OPB’s “Think Out Loud” where he outlined the problems and a solution that could work with a little legislative action. I think it is well worth 20 minutes of your time.

Don’t Act Like a “Pandangler”

A friend who splits his time between Bend and Montana sent me an article about fish dying in Montana rivers from the low flows and high temperatures, just like we have in Central Oregon. The guides are blaming the “pandanglers”, folks who have taken up the sport since the pandemic, and who have no idea how to properly catch and release or that you shouldn’t fish when the water is above 68 degrees or so. Fish can look fine when you release them but die from the stress of the struggle and heat. Don’t act like a pandangler. This has been a very frustrating summer for me, only in the past three months have I been able to fish after nine months of recovering from shoulder surgery, but I’m really limiting where and when I fish, and being extra careful when I do get out. It’s a bummer but part of living on a heating planet.

Wonky: Water Allocation & Policy in the Deschutes Basin

Kate Fitzpatrick, the Executive Director of the Deschutes River Conservancy, was recently interviewed for a podcast where she discussed our current drought and actions that the DRC has taken to work with irrigators to help alleviate it. As I told Kate directly, I believe that she is overselling the DRC’s accomplishments (very few COID patrons have offered to share their water with NUID, the Crooked River is essentially dewatered below the NUID diversion, Whychus Creek is still too hot to support a healthy ecosystem, etc.), but Kate is trying and she does a good job of laying out a vision for change. WARNING: this is an informative but wonky, water policy nerd sort of talk.

Crooked River at 5 CFS?

Photo: Brett Hodgson. 7/9/2021.

Brett Hodgson, recently retired Deschutes District fish biologist at the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife, sent me this photo taken at 8:15 this morning of the Crooked River at Smith Rocks. He estimates the river is at 5 CFS! The air temperature is supposed to reach at least 90 degrees today. You are looking at what will soon be a dead stretch of river, if it is not already. You could walk across it without getting your feet wet.

So much for anadromous fish reintroduction. Over 60 adult spring chinook salmon have gone through the fish ladder at Opal Springs to be faced with this.

And so much for the benefits of taxpayer funded canal piping. Some of that piping was supposed to increase flows in this stretch of the river. In fact, the minimum is supposed to be 10 CFS, which the river is not at, and 10 CFS is not enough to support fish in any event.

Bend’s Integrated Water System Master Plan

I’m not a resident of Bend, but watched the online “open house” on their integrated water system master plan. If you are interested in Bend’s water system and planning it’s worth a look. I’ve followed this topic for years and learned a few things. For example, due to water conservation, water use today is less than it was in 2008 despite Bend’s enormous growth. We need incentives for irrigators with senior water rights to similarly conserve.

More Cold Water Being Released into the Lower Deschutes River

The recent heatwave caused Portland General Electric to release 25% cold bottom water a few days ago into the Lower Deschutes River. The lower river once again has the temperature it would have if the Pelton Round Butte hydroelectric complex was not there. PGE says they will be able to release more cold water in July. Good news for Deschutes anglers.

Repeat: The Columbia River Basin Will Look Like The Tigris/Euphrates Basin

I’ve never repeated a post, but our extreme heatwave on top of our extreme drought made me think of this post from last January. Recently, I heard someone from the Oregon Water Resource Department deny that global heating had anything to do with the current drought. I hope we can all start paying attention to the science and understand that we need to take urgent action. Here’s the post:

A few years ago, I was asked to give a presentation on local water issues where I focused on climate change, drought, our dwindling snowpack, and its enormous repercussions on ecosystems, municipal water supplies, and agriculture. I was surprised by the fact that so many in the audience, even those deep in “water world”, had not made the connection between snowpack and local water issues*. There seemed to be a view that we have this enormous aquifer that will provide for us without understanding that a deep snowpack is the source of that aquifer. Today, I read a review of a scientific article on the subject that should scare all of us.

Read More »

North Canal Dam Fish Ladder

North Canal Dam from Google Earth.

North Canal Dam, located just upstream from the Mt. Washington bridge in Bend, is the northernmost irrigation diversion dam on the Deschutes River. Built in 1912 and 33 feet high, it is the largest and oldest dam in Bend. A fish ladder was required to be installed in 2017, providing upstream fish passage for the first time in over 100 years. The dam is on the left in the image above, two major irrigation canals are on the right, and the fish ladder is in the middle, indicated by the red arrow.

Read More »

Water Sharing is Not Enough

Here’s an opinion piece I submitted to the Bend Bulletin today. Their 650 word limit made it a bit choppy and forced me to leave out a lot, but I think the overall message is clear enough. UPDATE (6/24/21): the Bulletin published my column yesterday and today they wrote an editorial in support of bring back the water bank.


The Bulletin recently covered the plight of some farmers with junior water rights getting only 40% of their traditional water deliveries while senior water rights holders continue to get their full allotment. 

Beginning in the late 1800s settlers were lured by developers to Central Oregon with sometimes dubious promises of cheap land, good soil and weather, and plentiful water. Dreams of fertile farms helped bring the wagon trains.  The first to arrive and organize were given the most senior water rights and every right after that was more junior.  North Unit Irrigation District around Madras has the most productive farmland but the most junior rights.  While they have been here the longest, fish and wildlife have the most junior water rights of all.

Read More »

More Spring Chinook Going Nowhere

Due to irrigation withdrawals, the Crooked River is currently so low as to be impassable around Smith Rocks and the City of Prineville. Once the river reaches the Crooked River Ranch golf course, it is recharged by cold, clean water from a series of springs to the extent that it actually resembles the Metolius River by the time it reaches Lake Billy Chinook. As a result, the bottom stretch of the river has sufficiently high quality water to attract spring chinook through the fish ladder at Opal Springs Dam just upstream from LBC. As of today, 12 chinook have passed through the ladder. That’s the good news. The bad news is that they won’t get far. Let’s hope they can find places to spawn in a very short stretch of water.

Wonky: Deschutes Basin Water Collaborative

If you are a local water policy geek like I am, then it’s time to start hearing about the Deschutes Basin Water Collaborative, of which I am a member. The now complete Basin Study Work Group was a multi-year research project that dove deep into Basin water issues. The Collaborative is an even larger effort to implement some of the solutions that BSWG pointed to. DBWC has been around for a while now, but it’s moving slowly and still getting it’s footing. Some DBWC members presented to the Oregon House Committee On Water 2 weeks ago, and it’s worth watching (it’s the first 40 minutes). The speakers provided a reasonable overview of Basin water issues and collaborative efforts, but were careful to accentuate the positive. I fully acknowledge that some reaches of some rivers and streams are now in better shape than in the past, but the scale of the really fundamental work that needs to be done, at a much quicker pace than currently being discussed, was not addressed.

Local Stream Flow and Reservoir Levels

I’m sure you’re aware by now that most of Central Oregon is currently in “extreme” or “exceptional” drought. As an angler, I’m particularly concerned with flows in local waterways. Here’s a chart from the Oregon Water Resources Department that may be new to you. It shows current stream flows compared to the average. Flows in most of the state are more than 40% below average. Crook County is at 11%! According to the Bureau of Reclamation, reservoirs in Deschutes County are 42% full, which is 55% of the average. In other words, they are normally 76% full at this time of year. Reservoirs in Crook County are at 47% capacity, which is 54% of the average.

Spring Chinook, the Crooked River, and the HCP

Here’s more on the extreme low flows on the Crooked River which is currently at 9 CFS below Prineville. As of yesterday, 3 adult spring chinook have swam through the fish ladder at Opal Springs near the mouth of the Crooked River. They won’t get far, however, as the river is impassable for fish their size not far upstream. Below are a couple of photos of the river a little below the North Unit Irrigation District diversion near Smith Rocks. Why doesn’t the Habitat Conservation Plan require flows needed for these reintroduced fish? Probably because they are not yet listed as endangered species in the Deschutes Basin, but steelhead are, and their fry need higher, cleaner flows to survive.

Read More »

2020-2021 Steelhead Reintroduction Final

Portland General Electric provided the final reintroduction counts for the 2020-2021 steelhead season last Friday* and once again they were extremely disappointing: a total of 52 steelhead. These are fish from the Upper Deschutes Basin that were captured as out migrating smolts 2 years ago at the Selective Water Withdrawal tower in Lake Billy Chinook, potentially marked and released into the Lower Deschutes River, and which subsequently returned as adults. Last year 57 adults returned. It is almost important to know that the number of all steelhead (wild, hatchery, and reintroduced) captured at the Pelton Trap was very low (1,309).

Once again, I make the case that this is not an issue specifically with the Deschutes River, it is a result of many factors that have led to massive declines in anadromous fish populations throughout the Pacific Northwest. These include global warming which is destroying the food chain in the ocean as well as lowering and warming rivers, dams which remove habitat and impede migration, over fishing, pollution, cross-breeding and competition with hatchery fish, etc. Without large scale reform, wild steelhead in much of the Columbia Basin and beyond are on the path to extinction and hatchery fish could follow.

For those of you who track the reintroduction closely, keep reading.

Read More »

“In the Klamath Basin, pretty much everybody’s feeling the pain”

A parasitic infection is expected to kill nearly all of juvenile salmon on the Klamath River this spring. The photo features fish that are presumed to have died from infection.
Yurok Tribe

That’s the title of an article on OPB.org. As readers know, I have a real fondness for fishing in the Klamath Basin (great fishing, few people), but the extreme multi-year drought they are experiencing is going to dramatically impact fishing, farming, and economies from the upper Basin out to the coast. The quote that really caught by eye was from Craig Tucker, natural resources policy consultant for the Karuk Tribe in California.

“This is 21st century global climate change hydrology,” Tucker said. “This is what the climatologists told us to expect is extreme dryness, followed by extreme wetness, and less snow. “We can’t use 20th century water plans to deal with 21st century climate,” he added.

This applies to the Deschutes Basin as well. Unfortunately, nothing is occurring in either basin at the scale or speed that is needed.

What is “Normal” Temperature?

https://ncics.org/pub/jared/normals/analysis/20th_century/diff1_tavg_ANN_1901-2000_1991-2020.png

Every 10 years, the National Centers for Environmental Information releases statistics on “normal” weather for the US. This data is used in a variety of ways, for example to say that today is warmer or colder than normal. The problem with this is that it does not capture long term trends, comparing the past decade to the prior one is not as useful as looking at the past 100 years. The chart above does just that. It compares the 30 years from 1991-2020 to the entire 20th century. There’s no doubt about it, we’re heating up. If we looked at just the past 10 years compared to the prior 100 it would look even worse.

Of course, this same problem exists when looking at fish counts. Everyone talks about current numbers relative to the past 10 to 20 years. What we should really be looking at is current population estimates in relation to the past 100+ years. When you do that it is downright depressing.

A Tale of 2 Rivers (both the Deschutes)

Middle Deschutes near Riley Ranch. 62 CFS on 5/1/21. Go the the COLW blog to watch the video.

Tod Heisler at Central Oregon Land Watch wrote a really good post for their blog, “Drought and the Deschutes: Looking at the same river twice“. It succinctly covers a topic I write about a lot: the dramatic difference in flows above and below Bend during irrigation season. I highly recommend it. Here’s some more color to this discussion: many local groups promote the Middle Deschutes as a success story. In fact, just yesterday I was in a meeting where a local prominent NGO and a government employee did just that. Once again, I lost my cool. Historically, the Middle Deschutes as it flows through Bend should be somewhere over 1,200 CFS right now. A few days ago it was at 62 CFS. That’s 5%* of the historical flow. True, 62 CFS is better than nothing, but we have a very long way to go before this stretch of the river is healthy again.

(*Yes, I made a stupid math error in the first version of this post, now corrected. I need a proof reader / editor sometimes.)

Crooked River 2021 Flows

We can now make a prediction about how the Crooked River will look for the remainder of the year.  The executive summary is that the Wild & Scenic section below Bowman Dam, where most anglers spend their time, down to the City of Prineville (CoP), will have good flows during irrigation season and will have low, but survivable flows in non-irrigation season.  Below CoP is another story.  Flows below CoP will be extremely low, lethally so at times, during irrigation season but then improve during non-irrigation season.  Read on for a detailed explanation.

Read More »

Conservation Angler Newsletter

The Conservation Angler’s recent newsletter has some really good stuff in it, I suggest you check it out. One slightly off-topic comment: for my day job I have spent a fair amount of time pouring over research on Bitcoin and Blockchain. There is a link in TCA’s newsletter to an article that does a reasonable job of discussing Bitcoin’s environmental impact at a high level, but leaves out something that continues to stun me. Given the enormous computing power required to run the Blockchain and mine new coins, the preponderance of server farms dedicated to this task are located in China due to their cheap, coal-based electricity. The result is that Bitcoin is responsible for about 60 million tons of CO2 emissions annually, an amount that is increasing. It is projected that Bitcoin will soon emit more CO2 than Japan, currently the 5th largest emitter in the world.

Precipitation Cumulative Departure From Average

By now, we should all be aware of our 20-year drought (I have many posts on this). While I have seen many graphical representations of it, this one in Kyle’s presentation was new to me. The blue bars show actual monthly precipitation over the past 20 years as measured at Wickiup Dam (not average as stated in the chart). The red line shows the cumulative departure from average. Over the past 20 years, Wickiup has seen almost 60 less inches than “average”. Kyle goes on to say in the presentation the cause is normal weather cycles, not global warming. Regardless of the reason, it has been dry over the past 20 years and we have had no changes in water policy or management in response.

Water in the Deschutes Basin: 2020 Hindsight – What Happened?

An empty Wikiup Reservoir.

For a couple of years I have been attending/viewing presentations put on by the Central Oregon Geoscience Society (COGS). I am not a geologist, but the talks have been educational and are occasionally about topics of particular interest to me like local hydrology and hydrogeomorphology. On April 27, Kyle Gorman, long time Central Oregon Region Manager for the Oregon Water Resources Department, gave a presentation titled, Water in the Deschutes Basin: 2020 Hindsight – What Happened? (Click on the title to see a replay.) Kyle discussed local hydrology and water use by irrigators. His presentation even had a couple of informative slides I had not seen before. (Check out the “CDA” graph at about minute 40.) It was a good overview of water issues many of us have been tracking for years, and I recommend viewing the replay of his talk, and perhaps joining COGS if you are interested in presentations like this.

I was surprised, however, by Kyle’s dismissal of global warming as a causal factor in current water shortages. Keep reading for comments on that.

Read More »

Middle Deschutes Killed Again

Credit: Central Oregon Irrigation District email.

Sadly, as I have written about many times, it is irrigation season and once again the Middle Deschutes below Bend is being killed.  According to the US Bureau of Reclamation gauge, the Middle is currently flowing at 64 CFS.  Prior to the installation of upstream dams and irrigation withdrawals, this section of river would be flowing around 1,200 CFS.  Not only are the flows lethally low, they are erratic (see the chart below).  The photo above is from a Central Oregon Irrigation District email last month that provided the irrigation startup schedule to their patrons.  I was struck by their use of this image, as I will explain below.

Read More »

Misleading Bulletin Article on the Deschutes

On April 3rd, the Bend Bulletin ran a very misleading article, Deschutes River level to rise as irrigation season begins, so I am glad they printed Tod Heisler’s response. The Bulletin’s article omitted much and contained inaccuracies, like showing a picture of the river at Sawyer park and claiming that the river will rise there when it will actually fall. Tod did a good job of providing a more complete and accurate description of the irrigator’s impact on the river.

Video: Snake River Dam Removal Presentation

Last week, Advocates for the West hosted a Zoom meeting featuring Idaho Conservation League’s Justin Hayes talking about US Congressman Simpson’s proposal to partially remove the four lower Snake River dams. I thought Justin did a great job diving into the proposal, answering questions, and I learned a lot. You can watch a replay of the meeting on Advocates’ YouTube channel. While informative, the discussion reinforced my concerns about the proposal’s automatic re-licensing of many other dams and a moratorium on related lawsuits in the Columbia Basin. Snake River salmon and steelhead desperately need these dams removed, but not at the potential cost of further endangering anadromous populations further downstream. This concern was acknowledged in the discussion but not adequately addressed in my opinion. Nevertheless, I encourage you to watch the video if you’d like to learn more about the proposal.

It Hurts the Upper Deschutes, Too

In preparation for irrigation season, over the past few days flows were rapidly increased in the Upper Deschutes River with releases from Wickiup Reservoir (which is currently only at 58% of capacity). While you may think increased flows are good, such a rapid increase is very destructive, by washing mud and silt into the river from river banks and bottom that have been exposed all winter. Note that the current flow of 370 CFS will be increased to about 1,800 CFS over the next 30-45 days.

Irrigation Season Begins

It appears that yesterday was the first day of this year’s irrigation season in Central Oregon. Once again, local irrigators showed their disregard for the Deschutes River, dropping the river below Bend from 470 CFS to 107 CFS in 10 hours. Such a rapid, deep decline in flows strands and kills fish along with the aquatic insects the fish feed on. Of course, this has been going on for over 100 years and is why the Middle Deschutes is in such terrible shape. It also shows, once again, that without the threat of a lawsuit, the irrigators will not change their behavior. (Irrigation season is somewhat variable but partial deliveries start in early April and ramp up through mid May with full deliveries.)

Klamath Dams Removal, Trout Genetics, and ODFW Management

A very nice “Cascades Rainbow” from 2019, bigger than most steelhead I’ve caught on the Deschutes.

A portion of the revenue from every fishing license goes into ODFW’s Restoration & Enhancement program, funds that are to be spent on projects that benefit anglers.  Spending is controlled by an independent board where I have been a member for over 6 years.  By statute, most dollars are spent on hatcheries and related projects, but we support other efforts as well, including some pure research.  Research projects are a small proportion of the total as they typically do not show direct and immediate angler benefit, but we may fund them if we can see a longer term benefit. 

Last week I saw the results of one such research project and believe there could be clear angler benefit.  If you are at all interested in the impending removal of the four impassable dams on the Klamath River (the largest dam removal project in US history), love fishing in the Klamath Basin as I do, want to see the reintroduction of anadromous species in the Upper Klamath Basin, and are sometimes frustrated with ODFW, then you should read on.

Read More »

Conservation Groups Oppose Simpson’s Snake River Plan

A frequent topic of this blog is the dismal state of Columbia Basin anadromous fish, including those in the Deschutes Basin. Among the most desperate are populations in the Snake River where dramatic action must be quickly taken to ensure their survival. The science is clear that without removing the lower four Snake River dams, some Snake River salmon and steelhead populations will soon become locally extinct (or “extirpated”, to use the more accurate term). A proposal has recently emerged to remove the dams, but as I previously wrote, it has some unacceptable provisions. While many conservation groups are ignoring the truly egregious components and rallying support for the plan, two days ago a coalition of other groups came out in opposition. Here’s a brief summary of the issue.

Read More »

No, We Are Not Moving Fast Enough On Water

Yancy Lind
A hatchery steelhead on the Lower Deschutes River.

My latest column appeared in the Bend Bulletin today. Once again, I appreciate their increased coverage of local conservation issues and occasionally letting me submit something. If you don’t have a subscription or have used you your free views for the month, here’s the text.


The Bulletin recently ran a column titled “Central Oregon Crossroads: Are we moving fast enough to protect our waterways?”.  I always appreciate water articles and commentary, but the column did not address numerous local issues.  Here’s a brief, partial overview.

Read More »

Brett Hogdson Retires

Brett backpacking steelhead fry into Alder Springs, 3/26/2019.

Anglers in Central Oregon will lose an important ally when Brett Hogdson, Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife’s Deschutes District Fish Biologist, retires this Friday.  You may not know Brett, but his dedication to local fisheries has made your life as an angler better.  For many years, Brett managed fish in the Upper Deschutes Basin which includes all the waters that flow into the Metolius, Crooked, and Upper and Middle Deschutes Rivers and all lakes and reservoirs in the Basin.

Read More »

Airstrip Denied, At Least For Now

As I wrote last December, an application for a private airstrip between Bend and Redmond right next to the Deschutes River in an Exclusive Farm Use Zone has been submitted to Deschutes County. Today, notice was given that the application was denied but is subject to appeal. I believe this is the correct decision. Private airstrips are fine, but not if they are next to a river where people recreate, eagles nest, and mule deer and elk use for winter habitat.

Drought & Reservoir Update

February was a good month for precipitation in Central Oregon. The Upper Deschutes and Crooked River basins are now at 94% of average snowpack, up from 79% last month. Central Oregon is now mostly in “severe” drought, as opposed to the previous “extreme” drought category. Nonetheless, very dry soil is soaking up most of the water, aquifers have a long way to go to be replenished, and reservoir levels statewide remain below normal for this time of year. Let’s hope we get a lot more cold weather and snow!

Old Snake River Fishing Video

Steelhead Junction, with Ted Trueblood and C.W. “Doc” Jones, 1963

Snake River dam removal is currently getting a lot of attention. Here’s an old film featuring Ted Trueblood about steelhead fishing a “secret” place, which is pretty clearly Hells Canyon on the Snake. I was amused by the narration and line-in-mouth technique, but steelhead fishing used to be spectacular! Thanks to Aimee Moran, at Advocates for the West, for sharing. Advocates is an excellent organization, worthy of your support.

Crooked River Flows & Management

I have been a member of Central Oregon Flyfishers since 2004. Like so much else in Central Oregon, COF has grown considerably since then, mostly with new members from out of the area. At last month’s COF meeting a question was asked about fishing the Crooked River in the winter during low flows which made me think it was time for another overview of how Bowman Dam and the Crooked River are managed.  Here’s a quick recap.

Read More »

Klamath Dams Removal Update

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Copco_02-300x169.jpeg
Copco No. 1 Dam

The Klamath River Renewal Corporation recently emailed their winter 2021 newsletter which had links to two items I enjoyed viewing.  The first is a recording of a CalTrout webinar held last December which gave a detailed overview of the status of the project including planned efforts for landscape and tributary restoration.  Dam removal is complex, requiring much more than simply tearing them down.  The recording is over an hour long, with 39 minutes of presentation follow by Q&A.  Removal of all four dams is currently scheduled for 2023.  (CalTrout has an excellent web page on this topic was well.)  The KRRC newsletter also contained a link to a powerful 14 minute film from American Rivers showing the 20 year effort by the Yurok Tribe to get to this point. 

The Klamath Basin may seem off topic for this Central Oregon blog, but it is one of my favorite places to fish.  Parts of the upper basin are less than 2 hours away from my home in Tumalo, the fishing can be excellent, and you can get away from people.  Removing the dams should make a good thing even better.

Brown Bullhead Catfish in Crane Prairie Reservoir

Brown Bullhead Catfish

Crane Prairie Reservoir was built in 1922 as an irrigation reservoir; the water is held back by the first of many dams on the Deschutes River.  Crane is a favorite for anglers in the Central Oregon Cascades targeting large, hard fighting “Cranebows”.  These native rainbow trout are either wild, spawning in the Upper Deschutes above the reservoir, or hatchery-raised from originally wild stock.  Only triploid (sterile) hatchery fish are now released into the reservoir, eliminating the potential for breeding with wild fish.

Read More »

US Rep. “Concept” for Breaching Lower Snake River Dams

Image result for ice harbor dam
Ice Harbor Dam

Over the weekend, US Representative Mike Simpson of Idaho released a “concept” for legislation to breach the 4 lower Snake River dams (Ice Harbor, Lower Monumental, Little Goose and Lower Granite). Oregon Public Broadcasting has a good story on the proposal as well as related articles. Rep. Simpson understands that Snake River salmon and steelhead are on the path to extinction and he is to be commended for his efforts.

That being said, there is an element in the concept that will be a non-starter for most conservation / environmental groups: it suspends essentially all dam-related lawsuits in the entire Columbia Basin, not only the Snake River, for 35 years. Suspending legal challenges for such a long period of time over such an enormous area will simply be unacceptable for many.

What is “Normal” Precipitation?

Wildfire management is not my area of expertise, but it is certainly a hot topic in Central Oregon and one connected to water and watersheds. One of the dominate narratives today is that we need to more actively “manage” our forests while the environmental / scientific community states this is misguided for a range of reasons. “First the savior, now the villain: Fire suppression is often overhyped in the American west“, was published today and is another argument that managing forests for fire suppression is more detrimental than beneficial. The line that caught my eye was, “According to tree-ring-based climate reconstructions, this was the wettest century of the past 2,000 years in much of the West.” What does this mean for our local ecosystems? If normal means drier, and global heating adds to that, what does that mean for us? Perhaps, rather than wildfire management, we should be focusing on water management.

“Salmon at the Crossroads, Time is Running Out”

That’s the title of the executive summary of a report released last month by the State of Washington. 30 years ago the first salmon in Washington was listed as endangered, many more have been added since then. Today, 14 species of salmon and steelhead are considered at risk of extinction (including those in the Snake River), and others are on the path. This is an excellent, brief, and easy to read report loaded with informative graphics. I encourage you to take a look. Of course, it begs the question, are things better in Oregon? Thanks to The Conversation Angler for alerting me to this report.

Endangered Species: Science, Economics, & Values

The Bend Bulletin has recently published two columns, one from an industry lobbyist and one from two local industry CEOs, arguing in favor of keeping the four lower Snake River dams.  Statements in these columns are worthy of scrutiny and debate.  One thing is certain, however, according to the best available science, many Columbia Basin salmon and steelhead are on the path to extinction in the not too distant future.

Read More »

Drought Update

Winter is approximately 1/3 over, so there’s a lot of time for things to change, but I thought I’d comment on where things stand so far. The short answer is, not good. Central Oregon remains in moderate to extreme drought conditions, we need significantly more than normal snow, probably for multiple years, to get out of it, and so far we are below normal. If you want to dig in more, keep reading. There are many interesting infographics if you like this sort of thing.

Read More »

Forecast: The Columbia River Basin Will Look Like The Tigris/Euphrates Basin

A few years ago, I was asked to give a presentation on local water issues where I focused on climate change, drought, our dwindling snowpack, and its enormous repercussions on ecosystems, municipal water supplies, and agriculture.  I was surprised by the fact that so many in the audience, even those deep in “water world”, had not made the connection between snowpack and local water issues*.  There seemed to be a view that we have this enormous aquifer that will provide for us without understanding that a deep snowpack is the source of that aquifer.  Today, I read a review of a scientific article on the subject that should scare all of us.

Read More »

“The Endangered Species Act Does Not Require Recovery, Just A Recovery Plan.”

Contrary to prior press releases and news reports, a final decision on all aspects of the Deschutes Basin Habitat Conservation Plan has not been made.  Final documents were made available only two days ago (1/11/2021).  There’s a ton of material there, some documents have multiple volumes, so have a fresh bottle of wine ready, maybe two.  Below is a brief overview.  Note that while a “record of decision” has been made to issue an Incidental Take Permit for Oregon Spotted Frog and Bull Trout later this month, the HCP is still under review for issuance of an ITP for steelhead. 

Read More »

Attack on Fish Passage Requirements

Yesterday, Ochoco Irrigation District notified the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that they were surrendering their preliminary permit to install a hydroelectric facility at Bowman Dam.  Simultaneously, Prineville Representative Vikki Breese Iverson introduced House Bill 2610 which could eliminate statewide fish passage requirements for many dams.  I simply don’t understand this lack of concern for our environment, rivers, fish, and wildlife.  Yes, the cost of providing fish passage at Bowman was projected to be high, but so is canal piping which is getting done with little financial contribution from the applicants.  Or, the applicants could provide some other net benefit (e.g., habitat restoration, increased flows, pollution reduction) that would mitigate the lack of passage. OID, the City of Prineville, and Crook County are looking for an easy, one-sided solution to the detriment of the long term environmental health of Oregon.

Anadromous Bull Trout?

I was recently forwarded a link to an article published in the North American Journal of Fisheries Management with the wordy title, Rapid Recolonization and Life History Responses of Bull Trout Following Dam Removal in Washington’s Elwha River. We’ve all heard about how quickly various anadromous salmonids moved upriver after the removal of the Elwha Dam, this article said bull trout did likewise. Upon reflection, that’s not too surprising. What I had never heard before is that this is a population of anadromous bull trout who migrate in and out the the ocean and they are not unique in that regard. I guess I should have not been surprised by that, but I was. Learn something new all the time…

“Greenwashing” Hydropower

Today the Bend Bulletin ran an opinion piece titled “Removal of unproductive dams best for salmon” from an admitted lobbyist for the hydro power industry. While parts of the article were certainly true, it was a blatant attempt to “greenwash*” hydro power. Yes, ocean conditions are an important factor in anadromous fish declines, but so are dams. Yes, unproductive dams should be removed, but to state that the lower Snake River dams are an essential source of clean energy and not a significant contributor to the decline of Columbia Basin salmon and steelhead is simply a fabrication.

Read More »

“String of Marine Heatwaves Continues to Dominate Northeast Pacific”

That’s the title of a recent article from NOAA Fisheries. The article speaks for itself. “It’s notable that in five of the last seven years, the California Current system has been dominated by these large marine heatwaves, which are also the largest heatwaves on record for this area.” And, “these warmer conditions have boosted the odds of harmful algal blooms, shifting distributions of marine life, and changes in the marine food web.” Clearly, the decline of salmon, steelhead, and other anadromous fish is due to both freshwater issues (dams, habitat, hatcheries, etc.) as well as heating oceans. We need to urgently work to improve both freshwater and ocean conditions. Time is running out.

Misleading Bend Bulletin Article

I am thankful of the Bend Bulletin’s continuing coverage of local water issues.  Unfortunately, the article in yesterday’s paper, Districts make last-ditch effort to conserve water for Deschutes River, was somewhat misleading.  While it is true that plans call for over $100M to be spent to install canal piping, those are almost exclusively federal taxpayer funds, not irrigator funds.  That should have been highlighted at the beginning of the article, not buried at the end.

Read More »

A Private Airstrip Next to the Deschutes?

A new 2,000 foot long airstrip adjacent to the Deschutes River between Bend and Redmond is being proposed. The application is for a private airstrip, but commercial use is allowed.  Your favorite mapping program will show that 20925 Harper Road is nearly adjacent to the Maston trail system and the flight path will go over other houses.  I’m all for property rights, but this is something else.  Parts of Maston are seasonally closed to protect nesting eagles.  Nearby Cline Buttes Recreation Area is winter range for deer and elk.  Hikers, equestrians, and cyclists use these areas year round.  It’s not the best fishing, but I’ve hiked down to the river there.  Why do the desires of a single property owner supersede the needs of wildlife and the public’s tranquil use of this area?

Read More »

Why are salmon and steelhead on the path to extinction?

The Bend Bulletin recently published an article from the Associated Press titled “Study: Ocean conditions, not dams, reduce salmon runs”.  This is misleading reporting of the original study, “A synthesis of the coast‐wide decline in survival of West Coast Chinook Salmon”, published in the Fish and Fisheries journal.

The research study argues that the most prized salmon and steelhead populations along the west coast of North America are in decline, often dramatically so, and that the reasons are complex.  Dams are not the sole culprit.  This can be a controversial statement in many environmental circles, but it is true.  It is well known that anadromous fish are declining in river systems that are not impacted by dams as well as where dams are present.  This is not an either-or proposition, however.

Read More »

Tire Dust Killing Salmon

A report published yesterday in the journal Science identifies a toxic chemical in tires as a significant cause of death for salmon. A NY Times article provides some background on how this was discovered. Ever wonder what happens to all the ground down toxic bits of tire that comes off our cars? It is dispersed into the environment where we breath, eat, and drink it. We now know it also kills fish. Just another element in the chemical stew in which we live.

Bull Trout Poacher Sentenced to Five Years Probation

The Bend Bulletin has a short story about a man living in Culver who repeatedly poached bull trout, and bragged about it on social media, before being convicted of the crime. I am always struck when I read stories about poaching, but even more so when it’s an endangered species. I like to catch and eat fish, but this is something else altogether. What was going through the poacher’s mind?

Things That Make You Go Hmm…

I have been asked why there has been so little discussion about the Deschutes Basin Habitat Conservation Plan now that it is final, so here are a few quick comments. It does appear that there have been marginal improvements in the HCP compared to the last draft. There are loopholes, however, so it’s debatable. Regardless, as someone who advocates for fish, wildlife, and river recreation, the HCP remains deeply disappointing. Flows in the Upper Deschutes will be increased far too slowly and remain unstable. There will be no real improvement in the even more disastrous flows in the Middle Deschutes. The Crooked River will continue to suffer from both low flows and high levels of pollution from agricultural runoff.

Read More »

“Atmospheric Thirst”, Drought, and the HCP

Local ecologist and wildfire expert George Wuerthner alerted me to a new report publish by the American Geophysical Union with the unwieldy title “Projected Changes in Reference Evapotranspiration in California and Nevada: Implications for Drought and Wildland Fire Danger“. While Central Oregon is not specifically covered, it is obvious from the report that it applies to us as well. The bottom line is that global warming is going to increase and strengthen the extended state of drought we have been experiencing as well as increase and strengthen local wildfire danger. George asks how will this impact the HCP and our management of local rivers? What breaks when there is not enough water to meet all the defined needs?

Read More »

The Klamath Dams are Coming Down!

Spectacular news. Today in a live Zoom call it was announced that the states of California and Oregon will replace PacifiCorp / Berkshire Hathaway as co-licensees of the Klamath Dams, which “ensures successful dam removal” and the “biggest salmon restoration project ever”. Dam removal will begin in 2022 and finish in 2023. FERC will have to approve the transfer, but Oregon governor Brown and California governor Newsom said that it will occur. FERC previously asked that PacifiCorp remain as co-licensee in order to provide a backstop in the case of cost overruns, that backstop will now be provided by California and Oregon. Learn more at klamathrenewal.org.

Do Irrigators Pay for their Water?

I recently had an extended email exchange with someone who objected to my statements that irrigators do not pay for their water, they pay for the delivery of the water. This may be a subtle distinction, but in my mind it is important. It’s analogous to paying for the delivery of a bale of hay, but not the hay itself. I have had several irrigators insist that they do pay for their water, but this is simply not true. So, here’s a more detailed explanation and why I think this is important.

Read More »

Winchester Dam Lawsuit

It’s not in Central Oregon, but the North Umpqua River is a favorite destination of mine.  If the pass is clear it can even be a long day trip. Chasing winter steelhead in the fly water section is some of the toughest fishing I have ever done but it can be rewarding, and the river is beautiful.  Of course, as is the case all over the state, steelhead returns continue to decline on the North Umpqua.  On this river, however, those declines are partially due to the abysmal condition of the 130-year old, privately owned Winchester Dam.  A new lawsuit asking the owners to remove the dam or undertake major repairs is another example of the excellent work being done by WaterWatch of Oregon. Learn more about the dam here.

Crooked River at 47 CFS

A reader recently contacted me concerned about low flows in the Crooked River.  As I have written about in the past, Prineville Reservoir is currently being managed by Ochoco Irrigation District and the US Fish & Wildlife Service to release 50 CFS during the winter (non-irrigation season).  In my opinion, this is in violation of the 2014 Crooked River Act.  At the beginning of the irrigation season there was more than enough water in the “fish bucket” to meet the Act’s 80 CFS target over the winter. Worse, they are not even releasing 50 CFS as the river has been at 47 CFS for some time now.  3 CFS might not seem like much, but OID is currently asking to spend tens of millions of dollars of taxpayer money to add 4.8 CFS. Once again, fish, wildlife, and taxpayers are losing.

Habitat Conservation Plan is Final

The Deschutes Basin Habitat Conservation Plan was officially made final yesterday. You can read the plan on the US Fish & Wildlife Service website. Local USFWS folks have told me that little changed from the last draft. I have been closely tracking the HCP (reading, going to meetings, making official comments, writing about it, etc.) for over 10 years (!) and can’t overemphasize how disappointing the final product is. At this point, litigation is inevitable. I have years of HCP posts on this blog, but will try to provide an easier to digest summary after I get through the final version (it’s thousands of pages).

“Day Trip” Steelhead Update

For Central Oregonians, the “day trip” on the Deschutes is the stretch from Warm Springs to Trout Creek.  While steelhead counts on the Columbia are somewhat elevated from last year’s dismal numbers, it has not translated into good returns on the day trip section so far this season.  According to fish counts on the PGE website, a total of 186 steelhead have been captured at the trap near the base of the Pelton Reregulating Dam from May through October.  Of those, 8 were true wild fish and were returned to the river. 15 of the fish were planted as fry or smolts above Lake Billy Chinook.  Most of these will be released into LBC with the hope they will naturally reproduce in the Crooked River or Whychus Creek.  The 163 hatchery fish will mostly be used as brood stock for future hatchery production.  These are small numbers, but the next three months typically see the most fish arrive.  Keep your fingers crossed.

WaterWatch 2020 Auction

If you want water in rivers and streams in Oregon, then WaterWatch of Oregon deserves your support. Without question, no one has been more effective in preserving and increasing flows, as well as preventing and removing dams, than WaterWatch. I have worked with them for over a decade on a variety of issues in Central Oregon (where they have been very effective) and ask for your support of this worthy group. There will be an online auction October 19th – 25th and an hour long live auction October 24th from 5:00 – 6:00 pm. Short and sweet and certainly deserving of your consideration. Need more convincing? Visit their web site, but also be aware of something that is not listed: their lawsuit is why the Upper Deschutes now has flows of 100 CFS in the winter. That alone is worth at least a small donation.

Bowman Dam Fish Passage Waiver Denied!

After almost four hours of testimony and discussion, the ODFW Commission denied the request by Ochoco Irrigation District, the City of Prineville, and Crook County to provide a waiver for fish passage! Get more background information here. I certainly hope that the applicants follow the advice of the Commission and come back with an improved application. Clearly, adding a hydro facility to Bowman Dam has real benefit, but there needs to be real benefit to fish as well.

Final Decision on Bowman Dam Fish Passage this Friday

As I wrote about here and here, Ochoco Irrigation District, the City of Prineville, and Crook County would like to add a hydroelectric facility to Bowman Dam (Prineville Reservoir) without providing fish passage. This would violate the law so they are asking the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife for a waiver. The ODFW Commission will make their ruling this Friday. You can find the meeting agenda here, and sign up to testify (via Zoom) here. Public testimony at prior hearings has been overwhelming against providing a fish passage waiver but the applicants will make their best case for it on Friday so a strong showing by conservationists and fish advocates is essential. Lend your voice to fish, it’s not painful at all.

Ochoco Irrigation District Canal Piping Post – Another Boondoggle?

Ochoco Irrigation District is the latest in Central Oregon to apply for federal funding to upgrade their water distribution system.  Details of the proposal as well as information on how to submit comments by September 30th are online.  The “Draft Watershed Plan – Environmental Assessment” (Draft-EA) is 155 pages long but easy to read.  I encourage you to go through the materials yourself and come to your own conclusions, but here are my comments.  Like the previous proposals from other local irrigators, it’s a mixed bag.  The common belief is that canal piping is good, and in theory I agree, but the devil is always in the details.

Read More »

Willamette Falls Fish Ladder Update

https://www.dfw.state.or.us/news/images/2020/091820_willamette_falls_fishway_4_odfw.jpg

I get flack from people I respect for being on ODFW’s Restoration & Enhancement Board. Every fishing license includes a small fee that funds projects selected by the R&E board. Some of those are hatchery projects, hence the criticism. R&E also supports projects like habitat restoration, basic science, and fish passage. As I wrote last year, the Willamette Falls fish ladder is in danger of collapse, which would stop all upstream migration of anadromous fish. R&E provided a grant to repair the ladder, which after much delay, is underway.

Grab Bag

Here are a few things that might be of interest. I have not posted about steelhead returns this season, but as you can see above, total returns (hatchery + wild) to the Columbia River this year are above last year’s dismal numbers. This is clearly welcome news. Note that they remain well under the 10-year average and that average number has been consistently going down for some time. ODFW recently put out this press release on the status of hatcheries that were impacted by the recent and ongoing wildfires. It includes an interesting video, especially if you have never seen how fish are spawned in a hatchery. Finally, here’s a post I made a year ago on the positive impact wildfires can have on wild fish.

“The Big Muddy”

This morning I received an email titled “The big muddy” with the photo above and this text: “This is a photo of the Deschutes about 5 miles south of Sunriver at about 4:00 pm, September 15, 2020. I’m guessing that the emptying of Wickiup Reservoir has many years worth of sediments, accumulating at the bottom of the reservoir, now washing down stream.” Seems like a reasonable guess to me.

The Crooked River Act, 6 Years Later

At the end of 2014, the Crooked River Collaborative Water Security and Jobs Act was passed.  Commonly known as the “Crooked River Act”, I was a minor participant in the negotiation of this controversial legislation.  Many people whom I respect continue to believe that the Crooked River Act was a giveaway to irrigators and a loss for fish and wildlife.  I disagree with them, but the way in which the bill is being implemented does not meet the spirit in which it was negotiated.  Read on for an overview of the bill, how it is working, how it is not, and why this is an even more important topic given the impending release of the Deschutes Basin Habitat Conservation Plan.

Read More »

ODFW Hatchery Fires

I know that with all the fire devastation around us, ODFW hatcheries are low on the list of concerns, but this is a water and fish blog so I’m reporting that Marion Forks, Minto, Leaburg, McKenzie, Rock Creek and Klamath hatcheries have all been evacuated. Many fish at these hatcheries will be lost along with some buildings, although the extent of the damage is unknown at this time. Regardless of your opinion on hatcheries, this is going to be another huge hit to a dramatically underfunded ODFW budget which will impact all anglers. Still unconvinced that planet heating is upon us?

Another Water Waste Example

This appeared on Nextdoor this morning. No mention of wanting to grow anything, only a statement that they are going to use water just so they don’t lose their water right. This happens all the time. Laws and policies need to be changed to protect the Deschutes River.

Irrigator Water Shortages: Who is to Blame?

As reported by The Bulletin on August 28th, Lone Pine Irrigation District is the latest local district to run out of water to deliver to their patrons.  This is terrible news, no one wants to see farmers losing their livelihoods.  Water is a complicated topic in Central Oregon with many factors contributing to the shortage. Unfortunately, rather than addressing the real issues, Terry Smith, chairman of the board for LPID, places the blame on the Endangered Species Act.

Read More »

Thornburgh Approval Granted

Yesterday our county commissioners gave approval for some construction to begin at Thornburgh Resort. I would anticipate continued legal challenges and there will be more approvals required as development continues, but it is clear that our county government is supportive of adding another massive golf community, including lakes for water skiing, to Central Oregon. I understand that we are going to continue to grow but without a significant change in the way that growth is managed we are going to run out of water. It has already happened in other west coast communities and we are not immune.

Middle Deschutes Carnage Continues

This week has seen multiple, abrupt 50%+ drops in the Middle Deschutes below the last irrigation diversion near the Mt. Washington bridge. Clearly, this is ecologically devastating to aquatic life. It is also arguably illegal. Enough senior water rights have been transferred to the river to keep flows around 120 CFS at this time of year. So far this week the river has been dropped to 48, 53, and 57 CFS. Oregon Water Resources Department says there is an issue with North Unit Irrigation District’s automated gates, but the damage is still being done.

Local Reservoir and River Levels

Here’s how our local reservoirs and rivers look as of the end of the day yesterday (click here for a direct link). Crane Prairie still has a lot of water as it is held fairly constant until late summer to maintain endangered species habitat. Haystack is nearly full as it is intermediate storage for North Unit Irrigation District. NUID’s main storage is Wickiup which will most likely be empty before the end of irrigation season. Prineville Reservoir is managed for both irrigation and fish. As of August 5th, it has 41,820 acre feet of irrigation water and 23,380 acre feet of “fish water”.

Read More »

Mea Culpa

I asked Jeremy Griffin, our local water master, what happened yesterday with the flows on the Middle Deschutes. He said the automatic gate for the NUID canal at the North Canal Dam “went wild” for a while. While my concern for the ecological damage that was caused by the huge, rapid drop is justified, I assumed that the drop was purposeful rather than accidental. That assumption was based on watching the irrigators create frequent, sudden drops for many years (although not quite as large). Nevertheless, I should have investigated it before making my post. For that, I apologize. I hope that they can get their equipment fixed, and soon.

Middle Deschutes Carnage! – UPDATE

Right now, the Middle Deschutes is at 48 CFS. In the 16 or so years that I have tracked flows, this is the lowest I have seen. So much for all the posturing on the part of the irrigation districts about caring for the environment. When push comes to shove, they get all the water. They didn’t even slowly ramp flows down to give fish a chance to move out of side channels. The river dropped from 117 CFS to 48 CFS in only 2 hours. We have known for years that drought and water shortages will come but little has been done to prepare for it.

UPDATE: Since hitting a low of 48 CFS around 9 AM this morning, the flows were returned to around 120 CFS at 12:30 PM. So, it looks like I jumped the gun somewhat in my post. Nevertheless, a 50%+ drop in less than 2 hours was more than concerning and will create environmental havoc. Like I have said so many times before, just like us, fish and other aquatic life need to breathe all the time, not just most of the time. It is also the case that very little has been done to prepare for the hot, dry future that we are going to live in and the irrigators continue to control almost all of the water in the Deschutes from the headwaters almost to Lake Billy Chinook.

Online Seminar with Dave Hughes!

Oregon native Dave Hughes is a fly fishing legend. He’s written over 25 books on entomology, fly tying, and fishing techniques. He’s also a noted conservationist. Dave is one of the few real experts in fly fishing. Most simply have a lot of experience and recycle knowledge gleaned from others. I put myself in that later category. I catch a lot of fish, and big fish, but it’s all due to learning from people like Dave and spending an inordinate amount of time on the water. So, I’m really looking forward to this online presentation on Wednesday, Aug. 19th, at 6 pm. Be sure to check out his YouTube fly tying videos as well. I’m not a tyer, but learn a lot about fly selection from watching tying videos. If someone has a well-kept copy of his book on the Deschutes for sale, please let me know.

Thornburgh Resort Moving Forward

Yesterday the Deschutes County Commission voted to continue moving forward with the approval of the proposed Thornburgh Resort near Eagle Crest. A final decision on the first golf course is still a couple of weeks away, but their comments seemed to indicate that final approval will be granted. I continue to be concerned with the amount of water that Thornburgh will use, its impact on our aquifer, and the corresponding reduction in surface water (our rivers and streams). Three golf courses, artificial lakes, lodging, and housing will use a lot of water. Below is the email I sent to our commissioners earlier today.

Read More »

Piping vs Water Conservation

Excess irrigation return, not a creek.

One of the primary disagreements between the irrigators and conservation groups is the relative importance between canal piping and improving efficiency in the use of water. For a variety of reasons, the irrigators are focused on piping their main canals. The Basin Study Work Group, however, showed that water could be more cheaply and quickly saved via other techniques including the use of modern irrigation methods and simple water conservation. I saw a great example of this while on a hike along the Deschutes yesterday.

Read More »

“The fallacy of in-conduit hydropower”

Tod Heisler has a great column in today’s Bend Bulletin titled, “The fallacy of in-conduit hydropower”. It’s worth reading, but the gist is that hydro power plants installed into piped canals encourages the continued overuse of water, even when it is not needed, in order to keep the power plant running. Of course, this maintains the irrigator’s legacy of keeping water levels in local rivers and streams below what is needed for a healthy ecosystem.

Lower Deschutes Fish Update

From my perspective, one of the highlights of the Deschutes Fisheries Workshop is the annual report on lower Deschutes fish from ODFW.  That presentation did not occur this year, so I talked to Rod French, ODFW Mid-Columbia District Fish Biologist which includes the lower Deschutes.  There was a surprise, read on for more.

Read More »

The Creative Power of Water

I’m looking forward to this free online presentation on July 29th, 6:30 to 7:30 PM. More info here.

“Join bestselling novelist and former Oregon fly-fishing guide John Larison for an interactive lecture on the creative power of water. John will guide you through a brief history of water’s effect on human creativity, from the salty origins of art on the African coast to the enduring role of water in contemporary literature, in his effort to explore the question: “Why do people of all cultural backgrounds feel inspired by water?” John’s talk will welcome participation. If you’re so inclined, be ready to share an example of art you love (sculpture, painting, a poem, etc.) that was inspired by water.”