This article was published on: 10/30/20 3:59 PM
The Upper Deschutes Basin Habitat Conservation Plan provides an important foundation of flow restoration for the Deschutes Basin including the Upper Deschutes River, Whychus Creek and the lower Crooked River. The plan is specific to mitigating water management impacts on threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.
We’re looking forward to having this agreement in place so we can focus on optimizing collaborative relationships to fulfill collective aspirational streamflow restoration and water quality goals in the Deschutes Basin. We commend all participants for their years of investment in this process. The HCP and other parallel processes are moving us forward as a basin.
What is the HCP?
Diverting water from rivers in the Deschutes Basin has made farming viable in Central Oregon. It has also threatened critical habitat for fish and wildlife. The Deschutes Basin Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) is a large-scale planning process that will help eight local irrigation districts and the City of Prineville (Applicants) meet their needs while enhancing fish and wildlife habitat. The plan establishes minimum instream flows in the basin for the next 30 years and provides a number of other complementary conservation measures, including funding necessary habitat restoration and enhancement work as well as additional water leasing.
After last fall’s public comment period the Applicants revised the plan in coordination with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service and have now submitted the final plan for approval. The final plan and its environmental impact statement will be published on November 6, 2020 and permit decisions are anticipated in December. The US Fish and Wildlife Service website has more information. Additionally, you can read the latest article about the HCP in the Bend Bulletin.
Planning for continued restoration work is simultaneously underway through the Deschutes Basin Water Collaborative. The DRC is helping to lead the newly-formed Collaborative in accelerating the implementation of water projects and flow restoration. The group will seek to build a broad consensus around projects and reduce barriers to implementation.
Stay tuned for more specifics about the Habitat Conservation Plan including established flow minimums and earmarked funding for conservation projects.