Last week I sent an email to the Bend Bulletin pointing out that their coverage of low levels in Wickiup Reservoir was inaccurate when it assigned partial blame to the endangered Oregon Spotted Frog. Flows for the frog out of Wickiup into the upper Deschutes River are in the winter only and Wickiup was completely full when irrigation season began. I was happy the Bulletin published a new article today that correctly identifies last winter’s low snow pack as the culprit for low water levels, but this new article also fails to address another important issue. Why where no mitigating actions taken? There are strategies that could have reduced the draw down. Read More »
Wickiup and Crane Prairie reservoirs on the upper Deschutes River were constructed to hold water for irrigation releases from Bend to Madras. Wickiup is currently at its lowest level since 1952, and it may get lower. As of September 20th Wickiup is only 2% full. Until recently, Wickiup had some of the best kokanee fishing in the state and excellent trout fishing as well. This popular fishery is now gone.Read More »
The Basin Study Work Group is coming to the end of their multi-year study of water needs and availability in the upper Deschutes Basin and holding public meetings to discuss the results. This is an important event for local anglers and I encourage you to attend. BWSG shows what is possible in terms of restoring flows in the upper Deschutes River but it does not require any actions be taken. Public pressure can change that.Read More »
While the upper Deschutes has been the focus of late, the middle Deschutes also needs additional flows. Unfortunately, there are no real plans for this. The middle Deschutes is generally defined as the segment from Benham Falls to Lake Billy Chinook and flows in this section are complex. Read More »
The proposed Deschutes Basin Habitat Conservation Plan includes a section on the Crooked River (see pages 34 to 37). While I have heard some in the angling and conservation communities speak favorably about the proposal for the Crooked, I am not in agreement.
In summary, my concerns are:
- There is no scientific justification for the 50 cfs average minimum target during the winter and it is unclear what is meant by “average”.
- There is no provision for reducing the incidence of gas bubble disease.
- There is no mention of water quality.
- It does not address the low flow, high temperature problem that exists below the Wild & Scenic section during irrigation season.
As Central Oregonians know, the City of Bend is expanding and incorporating land into its urban growth boundary, land that may have irrigation water rights. This land will primarily be used for housing or commercial purposes and, with perhaps the exception of the Park District, will no longer need irrigation water. Water from one of the three existing municipal water systems will be used instead. Unfortunately, the irrigators are not returning the now unneeded water back to the Deschutes. Read More »