More on the Closure of the Mouth of the Deschutes

David Moskowitz, the Executive Director of The Conservation Angler, is a frequent but welcome critic of my work.  Today we spoke about my post yesterday stating that fishing for steelhead is now a moral issue.  He was largely in agreement and wanted me to be aware that the closure was in response to public testimony he made at the August 2nd ODFW Commission meeting.  You can see his testimony here (go to 1:40 in the video).  It does seem that this was not an issue being considered prior to Dave’s testimony.  It’s an interesting interaction and I am happy to give credit where it is due.  Dave agreed that summer steelhead on the Rogue seem to be doing fine but wanted to point out that summer steelhead on the Umpqua are not.  He is absolutely correct on that point.  I only fish the winter run which is doing fine but was not clear about that in my prior post.

Deschutes Steelheading: Now a Moral Issue? Again.

ODFW has closed the bottom 3/4 mile of the Deschutes River to all fishing starting today through September 15.  “The closure is to protect wild summer steelhead and follows several other regulatory steps ODFW and WDFW have taken to protect wild steelhead this year. Returns of ESA-listed wild Snake River steelhead this year are forecasted to be similar to the extremely poor return of 2017, and there are ongoing concerns about the potential effects of angling on wild steelhead that may gather in cooler water near tributary mouths like the Deschutes.”Read More »

Lower Deschutes Fish Update

Rod French, ODFW’s Mid-Columbia District Fish Biologist, presented at last week’s Fisheries Workshop.  This annual presentation by ODFW has been largely unchanged for years, which is excellent news.  Trout have been surveyed in the lower Deschutes since the 1970s and there have been no observed negative impacts on them from the operation of the Selective Water Withdrawal tower in Lake Billy Chinook.  If anything, trout are larger and more abundant now, which is to be expected given the more natural temperature profile of the river.  Below are a lot more details, or take a look at Rod’s presentation.Read More »

Future of Oregon Water Resources in Peril

That’s the title of an article that came out earlier this month. It’s well written and worth a read. It mirrors some of the themes I have been visiting for some time now. Less snow pack combined with heating will lead to water insecurity in Oregon for which we are not ready or planning. At the same time, demand is growing along with our population. We continue to waste water and don’t even really know who is using it or how much of it. Agriculture remains the primary culprit in this, most users have no conservation plans and do not report usage while using over 85% of all water. To add insult to injury, agricultural interests routinely challenge any attempt to restore flows in rivers. At least we could charge them for use of our water (all water is owned by the public). That would solve the inefficiency problem very quickly.

Artifishal: Not a Complete Picture

Last night I attended the Bend premier of Artifishal, “a film about people, rivers, and the fight for the future of wild fish and the environment that supports them. It explores wild salmon’s slide toward extinction, threats posed by fish hatcheries and fish farms, and our continued loss of faith in nature”.  Produced by Patagonia and heavily promoted in the Pacific NW by the Native Fish Society, I found the film to be visually and emotionally powerful but lacking in nuance.  Clearly, hatcheries are a problem for wild fish, but they are only part of a complex web of issues.Read More »

Farmers Agreeing with Me?

For years I have argued that Central Oregon water rights currently favor less productive lands, leave the most economically viable farmlands at risk, and should be redistributed in a way that offers the most societal value. There are ways to do this that would not leave current rights holders “high and dry”. I have also argued that the beneficial use standard must be clearly defined, simply spreading water on the ground so that it is green should not qualify. So, I was pleasantly surprised to see the guest column in the Bend Bulletin this morning from a farmer in Madras making essentially the same arguments.Read More »

Ignorant Character Assassination

Water in Central Oregon is a critical issue for people, fish and wildlife, our recreation and tourism industry, farming, etc.  To their credit, the Bend Bulletin frequently publishes opinion pieces on this topic from a variety of individuals, including myself.  My submissions are thoroughly fact checked and I often have to provide supporting materials for statements I make.  I wish the same journalistic principles had been applied to an opinion piece titled “Collaboration on water is harder than picking a fight”, published on June 7th.Read More »