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200731600 - McKenzie Canyon Irrigation Project

Sponsor: Deschutes River Conservancy

Budgets: FY07: $2,460,000 | FY08: $2,460,000 | FY09: $30,000

Short description: The Deschutes River Conservancy, Three Sisters Irrigation District, Upper Deschutes Watershed Council and the Deschutes Soil and Water District propose to restore instream habitat and flows in Squaw Creek to benefit ESA listed steelhead and bull trout.

view full proposal

Final Council recommendation (Nov 2006)

Funding category: Capital

Recommended budgets: FY07: $660,000 | FY08: $660,000 | FY09: $0

Comment: Capital only in first two years; expense only in third year

Funding category: Expense

Recommended budgets: FY07: $0 | FY08: $0 | FY09: $30,000

Comment: Expense portion. See capital budget for capital component.

ISRP final recommendation: Fundable


This is a well-written proposal, tight, detailed, supported with numbers and credible references. Wildlife and (named!) weeds are addressed and local land use pressures and ecological trends are recognized along with socio-economic elements. Identifies the major habitat-related problems within the Squaw Creek basin, including lack of adequate stream flows for fish. Historically, Squaw Creek was a major spawning and rearing area for steelhead and today supports a viable population of redband trout. Increased flows in Squaw Creek could be of particular significance as efforts to reintroduce steelhead above the dam complex continue. The sponsors need to better justify, in as specific terms as possible, the extent to which the flow increases will improve habitat conditions. Will the proposed flow increase make a significant, or even noticeable, difference to fish, especially in the lower reaches? What reaches will be most affected by the flow increase? What would be the estimated improvement in habitat (e.g., spawning areas or spawning habitat)? Where would the major increase occur and how much? Would new areas be open to spawning and how much? How would juvenile habitat be improved and where would the greatest improvement occur? In the areas where flow would be increased, is the physical habitat otherwise in good condition? The sponsors state that the flow increase represents 25% of the ODFW minimum flow request. At what location in the basin does this estimate pertain? Greater flow augmentation would make this project more appealing. Beyond focal species, the proposal did not note impacts on species adapted to ditches, such as nesting birds or amphibians, but did suggest vegetation salvage, an interesting, but not likely successful effort to reduce impact on non-focal species. It was nice to see terrestrial species being considered. The sponsors use the subbasin plan to justify the proposed project as part of a larger, ongoing regional effort. The first phase has been funded by numerous agencies and NGO’s. It is related to other streamflow restoration projects in the Deschutes Basin. In this water stressed, rapidly developing region, getting agricultural interests to put half the water saved into conservation rather than reducing over-allocation is a remarkable achievement. The work appears well organized and quite low-cost compared to many projects with less definable deliverables. The sponsors have extensive experience, and obvious cooperation with other agencies. Information transfer is not included, but should be. This model deserves more attention, and data should result, both technical and economic, that would be useful. The project needs plans for M&E to determine whether the flow increases have been achieved and what impact they have on habitat and fish. Implementation and effectiveness monitoring for this project could be part of the larger M&E program for the Deschutes Basin, but the sponsors need to assure that the larger program expressly addresses their project objectives.

State/province recommendation: Fundable

Review group: OSPIT - Plateau

Recommended budgets: FY07: $660,000 | FY08: $660,000 | FY09: $30,000

Comment: OSPIT recommends the project as proposed for expense funding and for the capital funding designated by Bonneville in its March 31 letter.