"The Deschutes River: A Path Forward" A Panel Discussion

Posted on in category Event

Where:    St Helens Hall, Trinity Episcopal Church, 231 NW Idaho St, Bend 97701
When:     Wednesday, October 23, 6:00 – 7:30 pm. Door at 5:30 pm
Free:        Register here. Suggested $5 donation at the door to help offset costs

Join panelists for a discussion of the Habitat Conservation Plan for endangered species, water conservation and irrigation modernization, and community engagement in crafting a future for the Deschutes that meets the needs of fish, farms, and families. More INFO HERE. 

Panelists:     
o   Jason Gritzner – Hydrologist, Watershed Program Manager, US Forest Service
o   Ron Nelson – Deschutes River Conservancy Executive Director
o   Bridget Moran – U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bend Field Office, Field Supervisor
o   Craig Horrell – Chair Deschutes Basin Board of Control; Central Oregon Irrigation District, Managing Director
o   Mike Britton – North Unit Irrigation District, General Manager

The issue
From fish to families, kayaks to carrot seed, ecology to economy, a lot is asked of the Deschutes River.

Today’s Central Oregon communities are built on actions taken more than one hundred years ago to entice settlers to the region. Just as people coming here now are profoundly changing the landscape, so did those early arrivals. Water was diverted from the Deschutes to promote agriculture, and dams were built on the river to store water through the winter for the growing season. Over the decades, how the river functions as a hydrologic and ecological system has been highly altered.

Today, we are faced with many challenges that include: the current condition of the river; threats to endangered species; archaic and inefficient irrigation infrastructure; policies that inhibit water sharing; the impacts of growth and climate change.

How should we plan for a future that includes a healthy river, sustainable agriculture, and vibrant communities?

The Deschutes River is a perennial topic. The convergence of activities bubbling to the surface now makes this a particularly active and pivotal moment. Among the actions that are underway, most of which have been years in the making and that are in the spotlight are:

o   The 3-year Basin Study is wrapping up and the Deschutes Basin Water Collaborative is in the formative stages.
o   The Habitat Conservation Plan and Environmental Impact Statement are in their final draft stages and are now available for public comment.
o   Senator Merkley has secured tens of millions of dollars for water-conserving irrigation modernization projects in Central Oregon.
o   Watershed plans for irrigation modernization through piping leaky canals have been developed or are in process by seven of the eight irrigation districts in Central Oregon.

Presented by the Coalition for the Deschutes, Deschutes Redbands Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Juniper Group of Sierra Club, and League of Women Voters of Deschutes County.