Once upon a time there, were lots of salmon, steelhead and trout in the Deschutes River system. What happened?
Fishing was not regulated in the “good old days,” so thousands of fish were caught and eaten. Hundreds of irrigation dams were built, causing near 100 percent withdrawal of water from the system. Intensive grazing near tributary streams caused bank erosion and silting of the spawning grounds. The entire river was blocked to upstream migrating fish by the Portland General Electric Pelton Round Butte Dam. Recent warming and drought have raised water temperatures beyond salmon and steelhead tolerance.
What is being done to solve these problems?
Concerned citizen’s organizations have been formed, and they have been able to reclaim small amounts of water for the river. The Deschutes River Basin Habitat Conservation Plan is expected to present a draft plan in 2019. If it appears to solve some of the problems, the general public should get behind it and push for action to “Heal the Wounds” and make the Deschutes River Basin “great again.”
I hope The Bulletin will join the action and report the results to your readers.