Wychus Creek is Waiting


Wychus Creek is Waiting

By Tom Derry

"Last week a good friend took me on a tour of Rimrock Ranch in central Oregon's Deschutes River Basin. When we topped the ridge and got our first look at Whychus Creek, I couldn’t believe my eyes. The Deschutes Land Trust recently restored a section of the creek. This lovely stream now looks how it must have looked prior to settlement in the 1880s.

When most of us think about the Deschutes, more often than not it’s about the lower 100 miles. The lower river is famous for its fishing, rafting, and incomparable scenery. But what about the other 142 miles of the mainstem, and the countless miles of tributary streams? At one time, these streams supported abundant runs of wild salmon and summer steelhead.

Thinking about Whychus Creek makes me wonder how we are going to make habitat restoration in the upper Deschutes pay off. We have spent millions of dollars restoring these streams, only to put salmon and steelhead in trucks and drive them around the Deschutes River dams. Trap-and-haul programs haven't worked in the past. What makes us think they'll work now?

Whychus Creek is ready and waiting for wild salmon and summer steelhead. And there are other streams in the upper Deschutes Basin just like it. But the fish need to be able to swim freely up the Deschutes and into these streams.

At Native Fish Society this is our vision for the future of the Deschutes. It's a future with abundant wild salmon and summer steelhead. All we need to do is get out of the way. If you ever get a chance to check out Whychus Creek, you'll see what I mean."

Tom Derry is the Native Fish Society Director of Wild Steelhead Funding and a Mollala River Steward.


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