Deschutes River Conservancy, Deschutes Land Trust partner to boost Whychus Creek flows

KTVZ reports on the Land Trust partnering with the Deschutes River Conservancy on a water project.
KTVZ


BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The Deschutes River Conservancy and Deschutes Land Trust announced today a water rights transfer that will help return more water to a local stream providing a buffer for future drought years.

They recently completed a transfer to move 40.2 acres of irrigation water rights (up to 0.59 cfs or 214 acre-feet) to instream use in Whychus Creek. This transfer will add over 69 million gallons of water to Whychus Creek from April-October. An acre-foot is the amount of water that would cover one acre to a depth of one foot.

The water rights are from two Land Trust protected properties, Whychus Canyon Preserve and Rimrock Ranch, and will help protect instream flows for native fish and wildlife, including reintroduced salmon and steelhead, the two organizations said in a news release, which continues in full:

The transfer coincides with major stream restoration efforts taking place at both properties to improve the health, water quality, and water quantity of Whychus Creek. Funding for this water conservation project was provided by the Pelton Round Butte Water Fund.

“This has been a record drought year for Central Oregon, underlining the critical need for continued water stewardship and flow restoration efforts. Every little bit helps in terms of improving the overall health of our rivers and creeks for the future of Central Oregon. Our partnerships with the Land Trust and the Upper Deschutes Watershed Council have been instrumental in the Whychus Creek restoration progress made to date,” said Kate Fitzpatrick, Deschutes River Conservancy Executive Director.

“The Land Trust is committed to building healthy natural systems for our region in the face of a changing climate. This water transfer will help make our protected lands on Whychus Creek more sustainable in the long-term, improve water quality and quantity, and create healthier habitat for fish and wildlife in Central Oregon. We’re very grateful to our partners and funders who made this transfer possible,” said Natasha Bellis, Deschutes Land Trust Conservation Director.

The Deschutes River Conservancy and Deschutes Land Trust have been collaborating for more than 15 years to restore flows and protect land along Whychus Creek. Together with a wide variety of local partners they’ve returned up to 20,000 acre-feet of water to Whychus Creek and conserved more than 3,226 acres of land and nine miles of Whychus Creek for clean water and fish and wildlife habitat.

The Deschutes Land Trust envisions a future of strong and healthy natural and human communities—where we work together to conserve and care for the lands that make Central Oregon an incredible place to live, work, and grow. As Central Oregon’s locally-based, nationally-accredited land trust, the Deschutes Land Trust has conserved and continues to care for more than 17,523 acres since 1995. For more information on the Deschutes Land Trust, contact us at (541) 330-0017 or visit www.deschuteslandtrust.org.

The Deschutes River Conservancy (DRC) formed 25 years ago with a mission to restore streamflow and improve water quality in the Deschutes River Basin. The DRC has a multi-stakeholder board and through collaborative efforts has restored over 40 cubic feet per second (cfs) to Whychus Creek and up to 208 cfs (equivalent to 93,357 gallons per minute) of flow in the basin with non-litigious, voluntary, and market-based programs. For more information about the DRC visit www.deschutesriver.org.

The Pelton Round Butte Fund was set up by Portland General Electric to protect and enhance habitat for Deschutes Basin fish. In partnership with the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, the Pelton Fund has invested $26.5 million over 15 years in projects such as removing fish passage barriers, stabilizing stream banks, restoring channels and floodplains and conserving water.