Category : Funders
This week, the Deschutes River Conservancy helped welcome the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB) to the Deschutes Basin and attended OWEB’s quarterly board meeting in Madras. The Deschutes Partnership and partner organizations (DRC, the Deschutes Land Trust, Upper Deschutes watershed Council and the Crooked River Watershed Council) reported to OWEB board members on its experience with OWEB’s Focused Investment Partnership (FIP) program. OWEB awarded the Deschutes Partnership $4M through the FIP program over the 2015-2017 biennium to help restore the physical and biological conditions necessary for successful anadromous fish reintroduction in the Deschutes Basin. DRC used funding from this grant to support its work on Whychus Creek with Three Sisters Irrigation District and to increase streamflow on McKay Creek, a tributary to the Crooked River. DRC is grateful to OWEB for its support of our work over the years. OWEB’s significant investment in the Deschutes Partnership has helped to leverage resources and increase the pace and scale of restoration in the Deschtues Basin.
During this time of year, people tend to reflect on what they are grateful for. The Deschutes River Conservancy is a 100% consensus-based organization working on restoring flows to the streams of Central Oregon. As you can imagine, this is no small feat! To continue finding water solutions that work for everyone, we rely on our tremendous partners, local irrigation districts, governmental agencies, funders, donors and our dedicated board.
When we think about gratitude, all these individuals and groups come to mind. At this time of year, when we all take time to give thanks, we would like to sincerely thank all those who make our restoration work possible. One drop at a time, you are making a difference for generations to come!
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.
Funds Will Be Used To Develop a Long-Term Collaborative Plan to Improve Water Management in the Upper Deschutes Basin
Recently, the Bureau of Reclamation announced the recipients of its WaterSMART Cooperative Watershed Management Program. Through this program, the Deschutes River Conservancy will receive $50,000 to develop a comprehensive water management strategy, in partnership with the Deschutes Water Alliance, to improve instream flows, provide more reliable water supplies to farmers, and to help meet future municipal water demands.
“This is a great opportunity for basin water stakeholders to step back from their day-to-day activities and to consider how water can be managed even better than it is today for the mutual benefit of agriculture, municipalities and the environment,” said Tod Heisler, the Deschutes River Conservancy’s Executive Director. “We are enthusiastic about this planning initiative and the potential improvements it will likely identify.”
WaterSMART is a program of the U.S. Department of the Interior that focuses on improving water conservation and sustainability and helping water resource managers make sound decisions about water use. To this end, the Deschutes Water Planning Initiative (DWPI), spearheaded by the Deschutes River Conservancy, seeks to balance competing needs for water through a collaborative planning effort.
“With this funding, the local community becomes a partner with Reclamation and together we work toward conserving valuable water”, said Scott Boelman, the Bureau of Reclamation’s Bend Field Officer Manager. “When Reclamation supports local watershed management groups we are ensuring the community is involved in local decisions that create healthy watersheds”.
The Deschutes River Conservancy is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization established in 1996 to restore streamflow and improve water quality in the Deschutes Basin. If you would like more information about this topic, or to schedule an interview with Tod, please call 541-382-4077, Ext. 19 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Pelton Fund was created by Portland General Electric Company (PGE) and the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs to protect and enhance habitat for salmon and steelhead being reintroduced above the Pelton Round Butte Project.
Historically, salmon and steelhead migrated from the Columbia River up the Deschutes River and into the Crooked River, Metolius River and Whychus Creek. In 1964, PGE completed the construction of Round Butte dam on the lower Deschutes River, providing fish passage facilities to promote continued migration. Unfortunately, the passage system was unsuccessful because of the confusing currents in Lake Billy Chinook. To mitigate the loss of the salmon and steelhead runs, PGE funded a hatchery program to replenish the downstream fishery.
In 2005, PGE and the Tribes received a new operating license which made restoring fish passage at the dams its centerpiece. To solve the fish barrier issue, PGE and the Tribes partnered to construct a $100 million dollar Fish Passage System, which saw the first returns of salmon and steelhead making their way through the facility and into the Upper Basin this year.
The Pelton Fund has been dedicated to funding habitat restoration in the Upper Basin, including the Deschutes River Conservancy’s streamflow restoration projects in Whychus Creek and the Crooked River, to support the reintroduction of salmon and steelhead. These funds have helped the DRC develop and implement the largest water conservation initiative in Oregon and to achieve one of two streamflow targets in Whychus Creek.
The Pelton Fund also supports a project to restore healthy conditions in McKay Creek, a tributary of the Crooked River. The scope of the Pelton Fund’s commitment to enhancing tributary conditions for salmon and steelhead has greatly leveraged the DRC’s ability to collaborate with its restoration partners to implement strategic and comprehensive reach-wide restoration.