Thanks to you, WaterWatch is celebrating thirty years of protecting and restoring streamflows in Oregon's rivers for fish, wildlife and the people who depend on healthy rivers.
Click on the links below to read our 30th Anniversary Newsletter and see our 2014 accomplishments and 2015 projects. The 30th anniversary newsletter summarizes many of the truly revolutionary gains for Oregon's rivers made possible by the support of people like you. These gains are why Oregon leads all western states in streamflow protection and restoration - and why WaterWatch serves as a model for streamflow protection and restoration in the West.
Please consider continuing your support ofthese programs and projects as we address the effects of climate change, growth and the legacy of antiquated water policies on some of the great rivers of the West here in Oregon.
Link to the 30th Anniversary Newsletter
Thank you for your support!
Thanks to your support, we can report the following major successes.
The tools are now in place to restore streamflows in the 72 mile reach of the Crooked River between Bowman Dam and Lake Billy Chinook in the Deschutes Basin. Thanks to legislation passed at the end of the 113th Congress, federal managers can now release water from storage to restore this reach of the Crooked River for native redband trout, Endangered Species Act listed steelhead and to support Central Oregon's recreational economy. It's hard to overstate the significance of this accomplishment. In the West, there are very few river restoration projects of this magnitude. Thanks to your support, we are seeing one blossom in Central Oregon.
In the Rogue Basin, we are on the verge of removing the fourth and eight worst fish passage barriers in Oregon. Your gifts help support the project to remove Fielder and Wimer Dams from Evans Creek. These dams have been identified as key to restoring threatened coho salmon in the Rogue Basin. Thanks to you, we are moving towards removal of these obsolete dams in 2015.
Thanks to your support, WaterWatch is addressing the twin and synergistic threats of climate change and growth to our rivers. In the last two months, WaterWatch won two appellate court cases that require Oregon's growing cities to account for the needs of imperiled fish. These cases will help address the threats of growth and climate change on our rivers by requiring cities and state agencies to account and provide enough water to ensure that populations of imperiled fish persist into the future. The cases also require cities to perform basic water conservation and planning. Both are critical if we are to meet future water demands and maintain healthy rivers in Oregon.
Oregon rivers and aquatic species thank you!
Your support is protecting and restoring streamflows, securing balanced water policies for the state and removing obsolete dams from Oregon's rivers. All of these measures help Oregon's rivers adapt to the effects of climate change. For species and people dependent on Oregon's rivers, your support of WaterWatch's projects is critical. Thanks to you, WaterWatch can report real progress for Oegon's rivers over the past few months. Consider these projects made possible with your support:
- On the North Fork Smith River, one of the most pristine watersheds in the West, WaterWatch led a successful challenge to Red Flat Nickel's attempt to secure water rights for exploratory nickel mining in the headwaters of the watershed.
- WaterWatch went to Washington DC with a coalition of river and faith based groups to advocate for modernization of the Columbia River Treaty with Canada. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to change the way the Columbia River is managed and to include ecosystem function as a purpose of the Treaty, along with hydropower and flood control. We met with the State Department, members of the Obama Administration and the Northwest Congressional delegation.
- On the McKenzie River, WaterWatch continued its successful challenge to a speculative attempt to withdraw 22 million gallons of water each day from the river atthe expense of fish.
- In the courts, WaterWatch defended a new fish protection standard in briefing to the Oregon Supreme Court, argued in the Oregon Court of Appeals to protect the lower Clackamas River and four runs of ESA listed salmon and steelhead there and supported a winning case in the Oregon Supreme Court that will focus fish passage across Oregon on the biological needs of fish.
- In the Rogue River Basin, WaterWatch passed important milestones in the projects to remove Fielder and Wimer Dams from Evans Creek, the fourth and eighth worst fish passage barriers in Oregon according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Removal will provide unimpeded access to almost 70 miles of high quality habitat upstream for migratory fish.
- On the Kilchis River, a pristine salmon and steelhead stream on the Oregon Coast, WaterWatch is challenging a proposal by a local city that would completely dry up the river in the summer, killing fish and everything that depends on the river.
Your support makes progress like this possible. Thank you!
Your support protects and restores streamflows in Oregon's rivers, helps remove obsolete dams and secures balanced water polices for the state of Oregon. Need evidence of the impact of your donation? Read on.
Since our last report WaterWatch has the following accomplishments to report:
McKenzie River: WaterWatch stopped an attempt to acquire 22 million gallons of water per day from the river at the expense of native fish in the McKenzie.
Malheur Lakes Basin: WaterWatch challenged Oregon's giveaway of groundwater that may affect lakes and springs needed by migratory birds at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Why do we say "may affect"? Because Oregon lacks the data to know if the groundwater giveaway is sustainable or will injure surface waters in the refuge, yet continues to approve more groundwater rights in the area.
Klamath Basin: WaterWatch challenged the failure of the US Fish and Wildlife Service to complete by a statutory deadline comprehensive conservation plans at the National Wildlife Refuges in the Klamath Basin. WaterWatch also released a report that documents how these refuges, some of the most important in the nation for migratory birds, could receive water using existing water rights.
Rogue Basin: WaterWatch continued to pass milestones on the project to remove obsolete Wimer and Fielder Dams from Evans Creek and restore fish passage to up to 70 miles of high quality habitat for steelhead and salmon.
N. Fork Smith River: WaterWatch joined 17 groups in challenging a proposed nickel mining operation in the headwaters streams of the N. Fork Smith River.
Fish Passage Standards: WaterWatch participated in an Oregon Supreme Court victory that clarified requirements for fish passage at small dams across the state. Now, passage will be based on the biological needs of fish.
These are just a few of the accomplishments we can report from the past four months. Your support makes these types of accomplishments possible. Thank you for protecting and restoring Oregon's rivers.
You love big western rivers. Oregon has some of the best out there – the Deschutes, the John Day, the Rogue, the Umpqua. Your investment in WaterWatch protects and restores streamflows on many of these big iconic rivers for fish, wildlife and the people, like you, who care deeply about the health of these rivers. But, as you know, small streams are essential too. Small streams comprise most of the stream mileage in Oregon. Small streams provide critical habitat for the salmon and steelhead that spawn in tributaries and many other species of fish, birds, plants, and insects. Inland, these small streams can provide genetic reservoirs for bull trout, Lahontan cutthroat trout, and many other species. Smaller streams provide a gentle place to explore with children, a place to teach a young one to fish or to skip stones. Small streams have a beauty and delight all their own, perhaps not always as majestic as the lower Deschutes River or the Wild and Scenic Rogue – though Joseph Creek might beg to differ – but instead intimate and welcoming in scale. The charms of small streams can often be easily approached. These streams are important and they deserve our best efforts. You are saving the world one small stream at a time by supporting WaterWatch.
A sampling of the small stream success stories made possible by your investment in WaterWatch includes the following: In the John Day Basin, your support stopped dozens of ill-conceived dam projects on Thirtymile Creek, retired water rights in the Rock Creek area, and created tools that help restore streamflows on small streams across the basin. In the Umatilla Basin, on Mill Creek, a relatively pristine stronghold for bull trout, you protected higher flow events, secured water for streamflows in the dry summer months, and safeguarded the uppermost reaches by moving a large point of diversion for a city from the headwaters area to a location seventeen miles downstream. In the Rogue Basin, you helped notch a never-completed dam on Elk Creek and you are supporting projects to remove two of the worst fish passage barriers in Oregon on Evans Creek. This project will provide unimpeded access to 70 miles of high quality small stream habitat for migratory and resident fish. Your investment also protected and restored streamflows on Big Butte Creek and supports ongoing water conservation and efficiency projects that could help restore streamflows and water quality on Little Butte Creek. You made sure that the Little Applegate will always flow, even in times of drought, by supporting transactions to acquire the most senior water rights on the stream for instream use. You have also helped stop, to date, the degradation of Grave Creek by a large proposed mining project. Grave Creek marks the put-in for boaters on the world-famous whitewater run and federally-designated Wild section of the Wild and Scenic lower mainstem Rogue, as well as the eastern trailhead of the Lower Rogue River Trail. In the Deschutes Basin, your support has helped restore streamflows on Wychus Creek, Bear Creek, and Spring Creek, among others. In southeastern Oregon you have protected Home, Threemile, and Whitehorse Creeks from excessive water development. These streams are important for imperiled desert fish and other species. On the Oregon coast, you have supported projects that have protected and restored streamflows for Horn Creek, Drift Creek, and many, many small coastal streams through WaterWatch’s administrative challenges to damaging water development proposals and other work on coastal basin plans that affect water use from these streams.
Across Oregon, your support has resulted in hundreds of instream water rights on small streams. Many more instream water rights for small streams are now in the works. You made these extraordinary results possible. Yet, small streams across Oregon remain under attack from ongoing efforts to drain, dam, and otherwise degrade these critical waterways. The challenge of protecting and restoring small streams across Oregon is a good fight that’s worth winning. To paraphrase Thoreau and Aldo Leopold, “In the protection and restoration of small streams is the preservation of the world.” Thank you for your vision and support. Let’s continue to save the world one small stream at a time.
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