September 27, 2010 - DRC News - Northwest Water organization take a lesson from Down Under

September 28, 2011
September 27, 2010 - DRC News - Northwest Water organization take a lesson from Down Under

Northwest water organizations take a lesson from Down Under

September 27, 2011 | Marisa Hossick, Deschutes River Conservancy

Did you know there are organizations similar to the DRC throughout the Northwest who are working collaboratively in their communities to restore streamflow in tributary streams and rivers of the Columbia Basin?

Ten such organizations, including the DRC, receive important funding from the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) in partnership with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) to carry out streamflow restoration projects. These ten Qualified Local Entities (QLEs) convene annually to discuss and explore ideas about river restoration, working collaboratively with landowners, and the ins and outs of restoring flow to the rivers and streams of the Columbia River Basin.

Four DRC staff members just returned from this year’s QLE Conference in Stanley and Salmon Idaho with fresh ideas and inspiration for future projects.

One of the main highlights of the conference was a guest speaker, Howard Jones, who travelled from Australia to share insights into the restoration efforts underway in the Murray Darling Basin, located in the states of New South Wales and Victoria.

“Australia has been suffering a 20-year-drought which has taken a drastic toll on farmers and the environment,” said DRC Program Director, Scott McCaulou. “Responses to severe drought in places like the Murray Darling offer those of us working on water management in the West insight into how we might deal with similar issues in our watersheds if climate change and other factors reduce water availability in the future.”

Other points of interest included a tour of the Lemhi River Basin in central Idaho, where the QLEs were able to talk with local agencies and ranchers about strategies to gear projects toward productive and profitable agriculture while maintaining compatible instream flows for fish.

“Restoring instream flows is still a relatively new conservation tool. As such, it is extremely valuable for practitioners to periodically meet and compare notes on what is working well and what isn’t. Each organization is in a different situation with state laws, local entities and water resources,” said McCaulou. “These conferences invariably lead to innovative ideas for everyone involved.”

Photo: Jeri Timm

IdahoDepartment of Water Resources is working with landowners in the UpperSalmon Basin to restore streamflow and improve salmon habitat.

Photo: Jeri Timm
QLE members visit the Lemhi Valley, where government agencies, non-profit organizations and ranchers have been working together on restoring streamflow in the Lemhi River.

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An aerial view of a body of water.