Action in the Face of Hopelessness

“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.  One should, for example, be able to see that things are hopeless and yet be determined to make them otherwise.”  – F. Scott Fitzgerald

This wonderful quote pretty much sums up why I am a committed fisheries and water activist.  (I certainly don’t have a first-rate intelligence, but do believe that things look hopeless while nevertheless trying to do my part to make them otherwise.)  I found this quote in the latest issue of Sierra Magazine which is dedicated to climate change.  Of course, it paints a bleak picture if we don’t take serious action now.Read More »

Middle Deschutes Flows

On January 31 the Deschutes River Conservancy announced that they had secured funding from Intel Corporation to help with their middle Deschutes summer water leasing program. Without the DRC’s various efforts, including the leasing program, the middle Deschutes below Bend would be virtually dry in the summer.  Additional funding for the leasing program is welcome news but requires some context. 

Flows in the Deschutes above Bend are controlled by irrigation districts who withhold water to fill reservoirs in the winter and release water in the summer which is then diverted into a series of irrigation canals.  The last major diversion is located at the North Canal Dam in Bend just upriver from the Riverhouse.  During irrigation season the Deschutes below this dam is reduced to a relative trickle, dramatically damaging the ecosystem for fish and wildlife. Read More »

My Bull Trout Fishing Prediction

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This is not a fishing blog, but every now and then I will post something along those lines.  For a few years now I have been chasing bull trout on Lake Billy Chinook using fly gear.  It’s challenging but can be rewarding.  Above is a photo of one of my sons with a nice bull trout.  There are a lot of variables at play, but it looks like we could have a good and early season.  Here’s what I have been looking at. Read More »

Willamette Falls Fish Ladder

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Last week I had the opportunity to tour the Willamette Falls fish ladder as a member of the ODFW Restoration & Enhancement Board.  There has been extensive coverage, including posts on this blog, about sea lion predation on anadromous fish at this ladder, to the extent that steelhead runs were at short term risk of extinction.  ODFW is now euthanizing the most problematic pinnipeds.  Less publicity has been given to the fact that the fish ladder itself is in danger of structural failure.Read More »

Crooked River Water Outlook

Here is a recent report from the Bureau of Reclamation on the water outlook for Prineville Reservoir.  As you can see on page 3, a few days ago the reservoir was 35% full and flows into the Crooked River were only 49 cfs (47 cfs today), which is below the target set by ODFW for fish needs and the 80 cfs target in the Crooked River legislation.  In summary, the BOR presentation implies that the outlook is not promising for the reservoir to fill which means flows into the Crooked River next winter after irrigation season ends will also likely be low.  Keep reading for some commentary on the presentation prepared by BOR.Read More »

Bulletin Column on Water Rights

Yesterday George Weurthner had a worthwhile letter to the editor in the Bulletin on water rights.  I agree with his comments, here’s my 2 cents.  Over 100 years ago, when Central Oregon was mostly unsettled wilderness, the state gave away water rights, not water ownership which remains with the public, in an effort to create a local, agricultural based economy.  Today, our area is booming and agriculture in Deschutes County is a minor and decreasing component of our economy.  Nevertheless, irrigators continue to divert 90% of the water in the upper Deschutes Basin.  It is well past time to reallocate the public’s water using a modern definition of beneficial use.  It is possible to maintain water rights for irrigators who are truly using it for agriculture, provide for other irrigators willing to pay a market price, while supporting the growth of our modern economy, ensuring municipal water supplies, and restoring our public water ways.