Category : Events
Frogs and flows were the topic of conversation on Tuesday night for a packed house at McMenamins. The Coalition for the Deschutes hosted a community education program presented by Jason Gritzner of the US Forest Service and Jennifer O’Reilly of the US Department of Fish and Wildlife Services.
Jason Gritzner presented flow and riparian studies from the Upper Deschutes River that span the past 60 years starting from the completion of Crane Prairie and Wickiup Reservoirs. Prior to the construction of Wickiup Dam, flows in the spring-fed Deschutes River varied little between seasons and years. Historically, flows in the summer averaged 730 cubic feet per second (cfs) and dropped to an average of 660 cfs in the winter. Today flows fluctuate dramatically between an average of 1800 cfs in the summer and a minimum of 20 cfs in the winter storage season. This new flow pattern creates significant challenges for a river that was not built for fluctuations, including significant erosion that has resulted in a widening of the channel by about 20% and a straightening of the channel. This winter, as a part of the Oregon Spotted Frog Settlement, irrigators have agreed to increase minimum winter flows to 100 cfs.
Jennifer O’Reilly informed last night’s seminar attendees about the lifecycle, breeding needs and habitat requirements of the Oregon spotted frog. The frog was listed as a Threatened Species in 2014 under the Endangered Species Act. Environmental groups have filed litigation to restore flows in the Upper Deschutes to protect frog habitat. The fluctuations in streamflow resulting from irrigation fulfillment in the summer and storage in the winter have created a difficult environment for the frogs to thrive.
To conclude the evening, Jason Gritzner highlighted the connection between the plight of the Oregon spotted frog and the overall health of the river. Because amphibians are considered an environmental indicator species, a distressed population confirms distress in the overall ecosystem in the Upper Deschutes.
Want to learn more? There are more community leaning opportunities to come! Click to see the list and RSVP links.
Do you want to play a more active role in local environmental issues this year? The best way you can help the river is to learn about the problem and support the organizations working to protect it. Here are several upcoming community learning opportunities to help you navigate the complex issues facing the Deschutes River and its tributaries.
Feb 1 | OSF and Related Initials: The Oregon Spotted Frog Legal and Policy Story
6:30 – 7:30 pm
OSF, NEPA, HCP, ITP…If you’re scratching your head about the nuts and bolts of the Oregon Spotted Frog lawsuit – what happened, where are we today, what’s next, and what do the initials and acronyms stand for – this is your opportunity get your questions answered. RSVP requested.
Feb 3 | Overview of the Deschutes River Basin: Science, Water Law, the Challenges and Potential Solutions
1:30 – 3:30 pm @ The Oregon Duck Store
Kyle Gorman of the Oregon Water Resources Department will give an overview of how water is managed in the Deschutes Basin and the geology in Central Oregon. He will also discuss how water is used in the region and the role water rights is playing in today’s water issues. Only 20 spots available. RSVP required. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Feb 6 | Farmers Conservation Alliance: Connecting the dots between irrigation modernization, our environment, and our community
6:30 – 7:30 pm
Farmers Conservation Alliance is a nonprofit organization working throughout the western US, including Central Oregon, to modernize irrigation for the benefit of agriculture, the environment and community. Learn about irrigation modernization and its role in restoring healthy flows to the Upper Deschutes River. RSVP requested.
Feb 17 | Environmental Issues on the Deschutes River
1:30 – 3:30 pm @ The Oregon Duck Store
Ryan Houston, the Executive Director of the Upper Deschutes Watershed Council will speak on topics including native fish, the Oregon spotted frog, riparian issues, the Endangered Species Act, the Habitat Conservation Plan and the human impacts on the river. Kate Fitzpatrick, Program Director for the Deschutes River Conservancy will speak about the Basin Study Work Group and the collaborative planning process to solve water supply issues in the Deschutes Basin moving into the future. Only 20 spots available. RSVP required. Please email email@example.com
Feb 23 | The Return of the River: Film and panel discussion
6:30 – 8:30 pm
This award-winning film tells the story of a remarkable campaign to set the Elwha River free. It is an unlikely success story for environmental and cultural restoration that offers hope and possibility for a more sustainable future. The film will be followed by a panel discussion about river restoration with the director/cinematographer and two research scientists who worked on the project. RSVP required.
March 3 | Irrigation in the High Desert: Perspectives on Water Use from North Unit Irrigation District and Central Oregon Irrigation District
1:30 – 3:30 pm
Mike Britton (North Unit Irrigation District), Craig Horrell (Central Oregon Irrigation District) and Patrick Griffiths (City of Bend) will discuss topics including farming, municipal needs, water challenges, opportunities, and solutions for irrigation districts and the river. Only 20 spots available. RSVP required. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Community members gathered in waders, boots and rain jackets at Lava Island Falls last week to rescue thousands of fish in what’s becoming an annual event. Each fall, streamflow in the Upper Deschutes from Wickiup Reservoir to Bend are reduced in order to refill reservoirs for the following irrigation season. This drop in flows cuts off water from a side channel of the Deschutes, leaving fish high and dry.
This year 3,941 Rainbow Trout, Whitefish and Brown Trout were rescued over 3 days and relocated back to the main stem of the Deschutes. We are so grateful to community volunteers, the Coalition for the Deschutes, Trout Unlimited, the Deschutes Basin Board of Control and the Trout Bus for your hard work and dedication to the health of the Deschutes River.
“While there is value in everyone working together to rescue stranded fish, the salvage is a symptom of a bigger challenge of how to manage the Deschutes River to effectively meet the needs of fish, farms and families,” said Mike Britton, executive director of the DBBC. “Central Oregon’s irrigation districts — along with numerous other stakeholders — are working toward innovative water management solutions that will ensure we maintain adequate year-round streamflows in the Deschutes River while addressing our region’s economic, agricultural, environmental and recreational interests.”
We look forward to sharing news of specific steps being taken to restore winter flows through more sustainable water management agreements in the future.
Tuesday, April 12 at 7:00pm
This programming is sponsored by:
Brooks Resources, Deschutes Brewery, Deschutes River Conservancy, Bend Broadband, Old Mill District, ASCOCC and OSU-Cascades Student Fee Committee.
The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Bonneville Power Administration, and the Walton Family Foundation brought together 90 river restoration practitioners together in Bend this past week. They toured the Deschutes and Klamath Basins, comparing and contrasting approaches to streamflow restoration across states and geographies. Through these tours, the Deschutes River Conservancy modeled successful collaborative partnerships on behalf of all of our partners.
Living on a Few Acres (LOAFA) is a one-day conference which targets small acreage landowners and farmers of all sizes. Over 32 classes will be offered to provide opportunities to learn about water rights, field management, small acreage concerns, growing specialty crops, animal health, tractor safety, and wildlife.
DRC Staffer, Gen Hubert, has been working on the 2013 LOAFA Planning Committee and will be co-teaching a class on water rights in Oregon. Gen will also have an information booth at the conference to answer any leasing, water rights or streamflow restoration questions.
The third session in the Deschutes Brewery’s Deschutes River Recordings series presents Laura Gibson with a spiritual cliffside take on “Down by The Riverside.” The pairing dovetails nicely with the themes explored in her latest album La Grande. The video’s eclectic makeup teases at La Grande’s lush explorations of vocal layers, organ, vibraphone, synthesizer, marimba, even marching drum. Simple solo finger-picking set momentarily aside, Gibson has arrived at a conflux of old-time and avant garde all her own.
Three of our Deschutes River Conservancy staff members recently returned from the 2012 Fall QLE meeting in Washington. Qualified Local Entities, or QLEs are organizations under the Columbia Basin Water Transaction Program with missions to restore stream flows to the tributaries of the Columbia River. Managed by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and funded by the Bonneville Power Administration, the eleven QLEs throughout Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana meet annually in a different watershed to learn from each other.
“The QLE meetings a great resource for our staff to interact with other organizations doing similar work around the Columbia Basin,” said Scott McCaulou, DRC Program Director. “It’s a time to learn from our peers, to examine conservation projects happening throughout the Northwest and bring those good ideas back to the Deschutes.”
This year’s meeting was centered around water conservation projects being managed by the Washington Water Trust and the Trout Unlimited Washington Water Project. QLE attendees were able to tour the project sites and ask detailed questions about the planning and implementation processes.
The second in the series of Deschutes River Recordings by the Deschutes Brewery was released today. Blitzen Trapper‘s singer, Eric Earley, puts his own spin on The Band’s “Up on Cripple Creek,” filmed on the exquisite grounds at House on the Metolius. Hailing from Portland, Eric Earley and Blitzen Trapper, capture the sound of nostalgia and American roots while lending their considerable talents to restoration efforts in the Deschutes River.
First Eric D. Johnson of the Fruitbats, now Eric Earley! We can’t wait to see the third video in the series, due to be released shortly. Stay tuned! As always, download for free or donate what you can. Proceeds benefit the Deschutes River Conservancy‘s restoration efforts in the Deschutes Basin.
We are looking for 6 volunteers to help pull weeds and and to learn about river restoration with a project tour.
Dates: Two events on Friday, September 7th and 14th. Chose one or both.
Time: 9 am until about noon.
Location: Meet at the Deschutes River Conservancy’s office on 700 NW Hill Street in downtown Bend.
Requirement: Please bring your own gloves. These are required!
Volunteer Perks: Helping to restore streamflow in Whychus Creek AND a free lunch!
Contact: Gen Hubert at 541.382.4077 x16 or email@example.com
Why weeds? In our ongoing efforts to restore streamflow to Whychus Creek in Sisters, the Deschutes River Conservancy recently transferred 0.97 cfs of senior water rights back instream. This is the equivalent of 627 thousand gallons of water per day pouring back into Whychus Creek, which is important habitat for steelhead trout! As a part of our agreement to transfer this water, we are providing assistance to control weeds and establish native plants in the affected pastures.
Ready to volunteer? Start your day on Friday learning about the project first hand with a brief tour of the project site and then do your part to help restore Whychus Creek by pulling out this invasive species (see wanted poster below). PLEASE REMEMBER TO BRING GLOVES!