BEND, Ore. - In response to seasonal streamflow reductions on the Upper Deschutes River that annually strand fish in a channel near Lava Island, a coalition of Central Oregon stakeholders has organized a collaborative fish relocation effort that will take place this week near Meadow Camp Day Use area.
Each fall, streamflows in the Upper Deschutes from Wickiup Reservoir to Bend are reduced in order to refill reservoirs for the following irrigation season.
This year, the Deschutes Basin Board of Control -- which includes the Deschutes Basin’s eight irrigation districts -- along with the Deschutes River Conservancy, the Bend Chapter of Trout Unlimited and the Coalition for the Deschutes are working together to help move stranded fish when water levels in the river drop.
The effort involves collecting fish stranded in pools along a side channel of the Deschutes River near Lava Island Falls and relocating them to the main river channel.
“While there is value in everyone working together to relocate stranded fish, the relocation effort is a symptom of a bigger challenge of how to manage the Deschutes River to effectively meet the needs of fish, farms and families,” said Mike Britton, president of the DBBC.
“Central Oregon’s irrigation districts -- along with numerous other stakeholders -- are working toward innovative water management solutions that will ensure we maintain adequate year-round streamflows in the Deschutes River while addressing our region’s economic, agricultural, environmental and recreational interests.”
According to Kyle Gorman, region manager of the Oregon Water Resource Department, seasonal streamflow changes on the Upper Deschutes vary from year to year depending on snowpack, drought conditions and precipitation forecasts.
About the DBBC
The Deschutes Basin Board of Control includes eight irrigation districts in Oregon’s Deschutes Basin. The districts supply water throughout the Deschutes Basin to 8,700 patrons across 155,662 acres. The districts work in partnership with conservation groups and local, state and federal agencies to increase instream flows in rivers and creeks, while improving fisheries passage and ecologically important habitat. Since 2000, the districts have increased instream flows by nearly 80,000 acre-feet in the Deschutes River, Little Deschutes River, Ochoco Creek, Whychus Creek, Tumalo Creek and Crescent Creek, benefiting salmon, steelhead, bull trout, Oregon spotted frog and other species. For more information on the irrigation districts and their conservation efforts, visit dbbcirrigation.com.