Upper Deschutes River

The Deschutes River starts high in the Cascade Mountains at Little Lava Lake. It flows through two reservoirs, Crane Prairie and Wickiup, on its way to the City of Bend. Irrigation water storage in and release from these two reservoirs cause low winter and high summer streamflows.

The altered streamflow pattern erodes river banks and stresses fisheries and riparian ecosystems. Soil eroded from the banks of the upper Deschutes River deposits downstream in Bend, causing sedimentation in Mirror Pond.

To address this issue, basin partners are looking into new ways to meet water needs for rivers, agriculture, and communities over the next 50 years. While much progress has been made in restoring flows in the basin, improving conditions in the Upper Deschutes will require a greater effort. To that effect, a $1.5 million Basin Study is concluding in 2018 which is providing needed information on restoration options. The Basin Study Work Group involves all of the diverse, and often conflicting, water interests in the Deschutes Basin voluntarily working toward a modern water management plan.


The Deschutes is a natural jewel in the heart of our community. But many of us are unaware that the river upstream of Bend is in big trouble. Its ecology is at a tipping point and showing steep declines in fish, wildlife, and vegetation. We must act now before it is too late.


The Deschutes River runs through the heart of Central Oregon. For the past century, the river has been managed to serve irrigation needs. This has had a negative impact on flows and the health of the river. Together with our community, the Deschutes River Conservancy is helping to change the story of the Deschutes River.

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