Trout Unlimited hasn’t had much influence in central Oregon. The organization has tried to start chapters in the area in recent years with limited success. But the Deschutes system is such an important watershed, TU isn’t going to give up easily. The organization is bringing in national staff onboard to help shore up support for a chapter on the Upper Deschutes by designating it a Home Rivers Initiative.
TU says the Upper Deschutes is home to ESA-listed bull trout, and prior to dam construction, a spawning and rearing range for native salmon and steelhead. But the system is impacted by large-scale agriculture, dense livestock grazing, and forestry operations, and it is also being loved to death by outdoor enthusiasts flocking to the area.
The challenge to TU and its partners is to recognize the qualities in-stream and out that make pockets of strong fish populations possible, to restore and recover what’s been lost or is missing , and to work with stakeholders in the watershed to link those pockets together again in a functioning, healthy watershed from tiny headwaters all the way down to the Columbia.
If you’re up to that challenge, plan on heading to the Central Oregon Environmental Center in Bend on November 1st. Details on the Upper Deschutes Home Rivers Initiative are here.