News from the Coalition for the Deschutes

Presentation Materials from Jackie Dingfelder: Integrated River Water Management – Oregon Lessons to Learn from New Zealand

Introduction: We tend to take rivers for granted. Even in New Zealand, a country that has been idealized for its natural beauty, rivers have, and continue to be, exploited for the many valuable resources they provide for humans.

Throughout the world, rivers and the web of life dependent on them, are imperiled. We are all part of that web of life. It’s time for us to tend to our own river, the Deschutes River. Please help us write a positive future for the Deschutes River – Gail Snyder, Coalition for the Deschutes

Drawing from her vast experience in Oregon and New Zealand, Dr. Jackie Dingfelder presented perspectives on river management and lessons that we can learn that are applicable to Central Oregon rivers.

While on a Fulbright Fellowship in New Zealand, Jackie studied first hand how they are addressing conservation concerns and threats to their rivers and riparian habitats. She discussed Maori rights, the impact of cows and market forces (China’s demand for more dairy products), and personhood for the Whanganui River.  She believes the Land and Water Forum is a framework from which Oregon could benefit.  She has generously shared her slides with us:

 

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Presentation Slides from Craig Lacy’s Talk: Historic Fishery of the Upper Deschutes River

Craig Lacey has generously shared the presentation materials from his talk at our October 23rd event at the Deschutes Public Library in Bend.   These contain not only the slides but also his presentation notes.

Be sure to read Craig’s fascinating biography below the presentation frame.

                   

Photographs courtesy of Jerry Freilich – see more from the event here.

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Craig’s Biography:

Bend resident Craig Lacy has been an advocate for wild rivers and wild fish for more than four decades.

During the early 1980s, Craig worked as a guide for a flyfishing business out of Sisters. In 1985, he started his own outfitting business, Whitewater and Wild Fish, becoming the first full-time outfitter out of Bend to do extended trips on the Deschutes. The business grew over the years, with seven guides taking flyfishers throughout the area, including the high cascade lakes, the Deschutes and the John Day.

In the mid 1980s, Craig served as the Chairman of the original Coalition for the Deschutes, which worked to successfully stop 16 proposed hydro-electric dams on the Deschutes, all of which would have been within 15 miles of Bend. Craig and company succeeded in getting the Deschutes added to the state scenic waterway list, which not only stopped the hydro projects from going forward but also gained long-standing state protection for the river. It also inspired activists from around the state to seek similar protection for their own beloved rivers.

In 1987, Craig was named “Oregon Flyfisher of the Year” by the Federation of Flyfishers, primarily because of his conservation work.

In 1995, after 11 years of guiding, Craig decided to give his back a rest and work on a degree in fishery science at Oregon State University. With his degree in hand, Craig began consulting on river issues and has contributed to studies and planning for the Deschutes and Crooked Rivers.

More recently, Craig helped launch the “new” Coalition for the Deschutes in 2016.

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Read Our Opposition Letter To a Nomination of a Bend 3.4 mile Canal Section as a National “Historic Place”

A 3.4-mile stretch of open irrigation canal, located between Ward Road and Gosney Road in Bend was recently nominated to be added to the National Register of Historic Places.  Earlier this month, the Deschutes County Historic Landmarks Commission heard arguments for and against the designation; currently, the proposal is under consideration.   Read about this in a recent Bend Bulletin article.

The Coalition for the Deschutes submitted a letter to the State Advisory Commission on Historic Preservation (SACHP)  requesting denial of the applicant’s nomination.  Read our letter below.

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Fish Salvage 2017 at Lava Island channel area – with Photos!

This year, the annual Wickiup Dam drawdown brought the reservoir water releases down to the ‘winter’ rate of 100 cfs – starting on October 16th.

Many local volunteers and friends from the following organizations joined together for this year’s Fish Salvage at the Lava Island channel of the Upper Deschutes every day from October 16 through 19th.  Special recognition goes to the organizations’ coordinators, listed below.

To all those that participated, THANK YOU – over 2000 fish were salvaged this year!

Check out photographs, including a few short video clips, that some of the organizers and volunteers shared with us while out at this year’s fish salvage.

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Annual Lava Island channel ‘fish salvage’

The ecological impacts of the low winter flows out of Wickiup Dam have been documented since 1947. In the early 1980s, after citizens successfully stopped 16 hydro dams from being built on the Upper Deschutes between Bend and Pringle Falls, they turned their attention to fixing the unnatural and damaging low winter flows (storage season) and high summer flows (irrigation season) in the Upper Deschutes River. But the problems persisted.

Fast forward to October 2013, when Coalition co-founder Kim Brannock was running along the river trail and discovered thousands of fish dying in the dewatered mile-long side channel along Lava Island. She came back with some buckets and a few friends and started rescuing fish. Since then, fish salvages in this location have been organized each year, but that’s triage, not a cure. The real solution is to restore more natural, stable flows to the river. The key to accomplishing that goal is to modernize irrigation by piping leaky canals and implement water conservation policies so that water stays in the river.

In mid-October this year, when the flow out of Wickiup Dam is reduced to 100 cfs, the Lava Island side channel will again dry out and fish will be stranded. We look forward to the new era when the annual fish salvage isn’t needed because the winter flows in the Upper Deschutes are always high enough to restore and sustain a healthy river again, but in the mean time, we’ll rescue as many fish as we can!

Many local volunteers from Central Oregon Irrigation District, the Deschutes River Conservancy and Trout Unlimited are again joining the Coalition for the Deschutes for this year’s fish salvage.   Contact us for more information.

The video below is from the 2016 fish salvage at the Lava Island side channel. The first half of the video shows views of the Upper Deschutes at different flows in October as releases from Wickiup are “ramped down” so water can be stored for the next year’s irrigation season. The second half shows the fish salvage in action after the flows were reduced to 100 cfs and the Lava Island side channel dewatered.

 

“Lava Island Fish Rescue” – October 2016

 

 

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Today’s insights, through 1947 eyes


Deschutes River Dimick 1947 Deschutes County Historical Society

In 1947, the Oregon State Game Commission documented what happened when flows at Wickiup Dam were reduced to 50 cubic feet per second (cfs) from about 650 cfs. The Commission, now the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, implored the state to permit minimum winter flows of no less than 200 cfs. However, in 1955 the State Engineer unilaterally set the legal minimum winter flow at 20 cfs. This year, for the second year in a row and thanks to the hard work of many, the low flows will not dip below 100 cfs. We’re headed in the right direction: modernize irrigation and restore the river!

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Annual Lava Island channel ‘fish salvage’

The ecological impacts of the low winter flows out of Wickiup Dam have been documented since 1947. In the early 1980s, after citizens successfully stopped 16 hydro dams from being built on the Upper Deschutes between Bend and Pringle Falls, they turned their attention to fixing the unnatural and damaging low winter flows (storage season) and high summer flows (irrigation season) in the Upper Deschutes River. But the problems persisted.

Fast forward to October 2013, when Coalition co-founder Kim Brannock was running along the river trail and discovered thousands of fish dying in the dewatered mile-long side channel along Lava Island. She came back with some buckets and a few friends and started rescuing fish. Since then, fish salvages in this location have been organized each year, but that’s triage, not a cure. The real solution is to restore more natural, stable flows to the river. The key to accomplishing that goal is to modernize irrigation by piping leaky canals and implement water conservation policies so that water stays in the river.

In mid-October this year, when the flow out of Wickiup Dam is reduced to 100 cfs, the Lava Island side channel will again dry out and fish will be stranded. We look forward to the new era when the annual fish salvage isn’t needed because the winter flows in the Upper Deschutes are always high enough to restore and sustain a healthy river again, but in the mean time, we’ll rescue as many fish as we can!

Many local volunteers from Central Oregon Irrigation District, the Deschutes River Conservancy and Trout Unlimited are again joining the Coalition for the Deschutes for this year’s fish salvage.   Contact us for more information.

The video below is from the 2016 fish salvage at the Lava Island side channel. The first half of the video shows views of the Upper Deschutes at different flows in October as releases from Wickiup are “ramped down” so water can be stored for the next year’s irrigation season. The second half shows the fish salvage in action after the flows were reduced to 100 cfs and the Lava Island side channel dewatered.

 

“Lava Island Fish Rescue” – October 2016

 

 

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Upper Deschutes Historic Fishery Presentation…and Much More!

Back to the Future: Upper Deschutes Historic Fishery: The Way it Was…and Can Be Again

Monday, October 23, 6:30 – 7:30 pm
Brooks Room, Bend downtown library
RSVP requested

Join former Coalition for the Deschutes board member, Craig Lacy, for a presentation about the Upper Deschutes fishery of decades past.

Bend resident Craig Lacy has been an advocate for wild rivers and wild fish for more than four decades. During the early 1980s, Craig worked as a guide for a flyfishing business out of Sisters. In 1985, he started his own outfitting business, Whitewater and Wild Fish, becoming the first full-time outfitter out of Bend to do extended trips on the Deschutes. The business grew over the years, with seven guides taking flyfishers throughout the area, including the high cascade lakes, the Deschutes and the John Day. In the mid 1980s, Craig served as the Chairman of the original Coalition for the Deschutes, which worked to successfully stop 16 proposed hydro-electric dams on the Deschutes, all of which would have been within 15 miles of Bend. Craig and company succeeded in getting the Deschutes added to the state scenic waterway list, which not only stopped the hydro projects from going forward but also gained long-standing state protection for the river. It also inspired activists from around the state to seek similar protection for their own beloved rivers. In 1987, Craig was named “Oregon Flyfisher of the Year” by the Federation of Flyfishers, primarily because of his conservation work.

In 1995, after 11 years of guiding, Craig decided to give his back a rest and work on a degree in fishery science at Oregon State University. With his degree in hand, Craig began consulting on river issues and has contributed to studies and planning for the Deschutes and Crooked Rivers. More recently, Craig helped launch the “new” Coalition for the Deschutes in 2016.

Read more

Speaking of Fish and Frogs – presentation materials

Bridget Moran from the USFWS Bend field office gave an excellent interactive presentation tonight at our “Speaking of Fish and Frogs” event.  She discussed frog and fish species listed under the ESA (Endangered Species Act) within the Deschutes River Basin, including the closely coupled Deschutes River Basin HCP (Habitat Conservation Plan).   She kindly shared her presentation.  Bridget also shared a handout on the HCP status.  You can view both of these PDFs below.

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The Deschutes River: Past, Present, Future

Learn a little about the Upper Deschutes through this recent presentation. The words in the title slide, “The Water is Sacred,” are borrowed from a recent interview with a Warm Springs Tribal elder.

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