What you need to know about the Deschutes River Habitat Conservation Plan

This event took place May 13, 2021.  Find the event recording below.

Collaborating to a Plan
The Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) has been a 12-year collaboration among a large group of Deschutes River Basin stakeholders – irrigators, municipalities, recreationists, federal and state agencies, and Tribes.

The HCP will protect and restore habitat in 340 miles of rivers and streams. The area covered by the HCP is massive, encompassing around 10,700 square miles of watershed in Central Oregon. Boundaries are the north to the Columbia River, west to the Cascade Mountains, and east to the Ochoco Mountains. The Deschutes River basin includes six major tributaries upstream of Lake Billy Chinook in Jefferson County.

Bridget Moran is the Field Supervisor for the Bend Field office of the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Bridget manages a team of biologists working on a variety of conservation efforts in Central Oregon, including implementating the HCP in the Deschutes River Basin.

The USFWS states that the HCP aides water managers by providing certainty on a water storage, release, diversion, and return paradigm for the next 30 years in the Deschutes Basin. This is accomplished through a combination of adjusted water management practices, increased funding for conservation projects and in-stream leasing programs, more gradual ramping up and down of the irrigation season releases, support for on-farm water conservation, maintenance of fish screens, and related items — all to better align the water management operations with the life-history needs of covered species.

The HCP includes conservation measures in the following areas:

  • Crane Prairie Reservoir
  • Wickiup Reservoir
  • Winter flows in the Deschutes River below Bend
  • Crescent Lake Reservoir
  • Whychus Creek flows
  • The storage, release and diversion of water in the Crooked River, Ochoco Creek and McKay Creek.

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