Deschutes River Conservancy Requests Congressional Funding

June 20, 2023
Deschutes River Conservancy Requests Congressional Funding

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BEND, OR -- It could take an act of Congress to bring stable funding back to the Deschutes River Conservancy. Executive Director Kate Fitzpatrick tells KBND News streamflow restoration projects and water management issues don’t come cheap, "Things like canal piping, on-farm efficiency work, and then also market-based incentives where we can lease water rights. We also work on water quality projects and habitat restoration projects."

Oregon’s U.S. Senators have introduced legislation to reauthorize federal money for the Deschutes River Conservancy, which used to receive $2 million a year from the Bureau of Reclamation. It was last reauthorized in 2005 but was never distributed and it expired in 2015. Fitzpatrick has relied on grants and private donations ever since, "We do have a fair amount of federal funding, but that’s received through competitive grant programs that we have to apply to over and over and compete for. So, this does for us is it gives us a direct line to get direct appropriations through the Bureau of Reclamation, to do the projects we need to do to restore the river."

Fitzpatrick says the money is needed now for important conservation work, "We’re working with irrigation districts and other partners right now, to meet pretty ambitious streamflow targets in the Upper Deschutes River, and water quality goals in the Crooked River. We’re pretty successful when it comes to securing grants, but this would just create some stability and enable us to make that work happen faster."

She is optimistic Congress will approve the reauthorization request to allocate funding for 10 years, "That climate has changed, where there has been an appetite for appropriating money for something like this." Fitzpatrick says it’s unclear how quickly the bill will advance and she admits there’s no guarantee it will pass.

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