Lower Flows will Aid Dam Repairs, Instream Habitat Improvement in Oregon

Media Contact: John Redding, (208) 378-5212
Ron Eggers, (503) 872-2795

For Release: October 25, 2006

The Bureau of Reclamation is lowering flows in the Deschutes River for two weeks in late October below Wickiup Dam to allow the North Unit Irrigation District to complete repairs to valves which control water releases. The dam is on the Deschutes River about 9 miles west of La Pine, Ore.

Concurrent with the low flow period, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife will place spawning gravel below the dam for rainbow trout.

As the irrigation season comes to an end, lower flows will be noticeable on the Deschutes River. Flows currently running about 36 cubic feet per second below Wickiup Dam are expected to remain at this level for about two weeks until repairs are completed and the new spawning gravel is placed downstream. The flows will be increased to about 100 cfs after the work is completed.

The ODFW's Deschutes River Mitigation and Enhancement Program will purchase and place more than 100 cubic yards of gravel into the river, thanks to a grant from the Fish Restoration and Enhancement Program. The effort is designed to create better angling opportunities at this popular Central Oregon fishery.

Construction of Wickiup Dam, located about 10 miles west of La Pine, was completed by the Bureau of Reclamation in 1949. The dam created Wickiup Reservoir, which stores water for irrigation of 50,000 acres near Madras. However, the dam also prevents the downstream flow of gravel. Streambed gravel provides fish spawning habitat and sustains aquatic insects and other organisms on which fish feed.

Jack Williamson, ODFW Mitigation and Enhancement Program coordinator, said replacing spawning gravel below dams has become a common practice in recent years.

For more information about the spawning gravel enhancement project contact Jack Williamson, ODFW at (541) 388-6350 ext. 24, or visit www.dfw.state.or.us/fish/RE, or contact acting program coordinator Laura Tesler at (503) 947-6259. For questions about the fall and winter flows on the Deschutes contact Kyle Gorman, Oregon Water Resource Department at (541) 388-6669.

Wickiup Dam is part of Reclamation's Deschutes Project and is managed by the North Unit Irrigation District under a contract with Reclamation.

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