Upper Deschutes: The Forgotten Miles

Apr 22, 2016
Brad Chalfant comments on the current state of the upper Deschutes River and encourages the community to attend an upcoming presentation on May 2nd.

by Brad Chalfant

For nearly 20 years, the Deschutes Land Trust and its partners have worked to protect and restore Whychus Creek. Our approach is unusual, in that a group of non-profits have set aside turf concerns and instead committed to specific conservation and restoration niches. We work strategically and collaboratively with private landowners, agencies, and irrigation districts. While much work remains, our successes to date tell a uniquely Oregon story--a creek reborn, fish and wildlife returning, while farmers continue to produce crops, and community members rediscover a very special creek.

Today, the upper Deschutes River faces many of the same challenges that Whychus Creek did 20 years ago, though admittedly with more players and more complex relationships. Yet, working with our partners, we hope to develop solutions that will eventually restore the health of the upper Deschutes River and the native fish and wildlife that call it home. Solutions that will serve the river and strengthen our economy.  That said, if we’ve learned anything from our experience on Whychus Creek, it’s that the challenges presented along the upper Deschutes won’t be resolved quickly—they will require patience, focus and a dedicated effort.  
One of the first steps is to help the public begin to understand the issues while the studies are being completed and our water partners engage with water users. We hope you can join us for a special presentation called The Upper Deschutes: The Forgotten Miles at the Tower Theater on Monday, May 2nd at 7pm. It will include a showing of the short film Rivere des Chutes, followed by a panel discussion with water experts and water users.

While the Deschutes Land Trust’s specific role in restoring the upper Deschutes and its environs isn’t yet clear, we strongly support our partners, the Deschutes River Conservancy and the Upper Deschutes Watershed Council, as they begin the collaborative effort to build awareness and keep stakeholders at the negotiating table.