Irrigation districts review frog settlement with public

November 2, 2016
Irrigation districts review frog settlement with public

Deschutes Basin Board of Control will host a public meeting in Redmond on Wednesday to talk about the recent settlement related to the Oregon spotted frog.

The 6 p.m. meeting will take place at Redmond High School’s auditorium. The board — a coalition of several area irrigation districts — plans to discuss the settlement that federal, environmental and irrigation organizations agreed to last week. That agreement sets various provisions. For instance, the districts must maintain a minimum water level of 100 cubic feet per second from mid-September 2016 through March 2017 for winter flows in the Upper Deschutes River.

The water levels change every fall and spring for irrigation needs. Reduced flows from Wickiup Dam in the fall store water through the winter for the next year’s irrigation season. But river advocates have long argued that the switch — sometimes a drop to around 30 cfs after running at 2,000 cfs through the summer, for instance, then back up again in the spring — helps erode the waterway and strand fish, among other problems.

The settlement resulted from lawsuits in which conservation groups argued that the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation had violated the Endangered Species Act by failing to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on dam operations’ effects on the Oregon spotted frog. Center for Biological Diversity, WaterWatch of Oregon, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, and the Arnold, Central Oregon, Lone Pine, North Unit and Tumalo irrigation districts signed onto the agreement.

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