Thursday, October 6, 2011

Upper Deschutes Salmon and Steelhead Have Passage, Now they Need Water

Two years ago Portland General Electric completed construction on state of the art fish passage facilities at their Pelton Round Butte facility, giving salmon and steelhead passage into the upper Deschutes for the first time since the 1960s. Now congress is preparing to pass legislation that will guide flow management and water allocation in the Upper Deschutes, Crooked River and tributaries into the foreseeable future. Passage to the upper watershed was achieved through considerable effort and expense, 300 million dollars to be exact, and it would be a terrible waste for recovery to flounder because congress fails to provide biologically sound minimum instream flows for salmon and steelhead.

It is critical that Oregon's Senators understand the importance of guaranteed minimum instream flows for wild salmon and steelhead in the Crooked River. If you're an Oregon resident please email them at:

Senator Wyden:

· To – Wayne Kinney - -

· cc – Dave Berick - -

Senator Merkley:

· To – Susanna Julber - -

· cc – Adrian Deveny - -

The essential points to make to the staff of Senators Merkley and Wyden are:

  • The legislation passed by Congress must provide for adequate flows in the Crooked River for the ESA listed steelhead and Chinook being reintroduced above the Pelton Round Butte Dams.
  • 82,000 acre-feet of Prineville Reservoir storage space is uncommitted, and therefore available. 70,000 acre-feet of reservoir storage space should be allocated to downstream flows for Chinook, steelhead and redbands. The actual water available in the 70,000 acre feet of space, and the water released for anadromous fish, will vary according to year and season.
  • The flows released from Prineville Reservoir storage specifically for fish would vary over the year. The amount released must be based on adaptive management decisions by ODFW, NMFS, CTWS and USBR professionals. The flexible objectives must be the best available science (BAS) regarding optimum flows for steelhead and Chinook, which is the 2001 Hardin-Davis evaluation for the US Bureau of Reclamation. For public transparency these flows should be noted in the bill that eventually passes as objectives of the adaptive management decisions.
  • Dry-year proportional reduction of reservoir space for salmonid flows and irrigation is essential. First fill as requested by irrigation interests is unacceptable.

Also check out this article about the issue originally published by H. Tom Davis the Native Fish Society's Deschutes River steward in Salmon Trout Steelheader:

Deschutes River Reintroduction

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