Merkley, Wyden Announce Over $4 Million for Water Conservation Projects Coming to Oregon

Interior Department investments heading to Crooked River Watershed and Deschutes Land Trust

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden today announced a total of $4.1 million in federal investments from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law are heading to the Crooked River Watershed Council and the Deschutes Land Trust. These funds will boost collaborative projects focusing on water conservation, management, and restoration efforts.

“Our waterways and fish are the lifeblood of the Northwest,” said Merkley. “I’ll continue to do all I can to ensure Oregon has the federal resources needed to carry out creative, forward-thinking projects that conserve water, restore healthy native fish populations, and stretch our water resources further.”

“These significant federal resources will help two standout Central Oregon organizations accomplish their crucial goals of conserving water and protecting habitat,” Wyden said. “That adds up to good news for Oregonians in the region who deserve both a dependable water supply and protection of the gifts from nature that make our state such a special place.”

The federal resources for these two projects are part of a $51 million overall investment from President Biden’s Investing in America agenda for 30 new Environmental Water Resource Projects in 11 Western states.

Oregon project descriptions are below:

$1,400,000 — Crooked River Watershed Council, Lower Crooked River Riparian, Floodplain, and Habitat Restoration Project

Hydrology in the Crooked River watershed is impacted by upstream dams, including the Bureau of Reclamation’s Bowman Dam, leading to loss of floodplain continuity, degraded channel structures, and water quality impairments, impacting native Spring Chinook Salmon and Columbia River Steelhead populations that inhabit the watershed. The Crooked River Watershed Council, working in partnership with the Ochoco Irrigation District, will restore habitat and enhance ecological features on two project sites just downstream from the city of Prineville.

$3,000,000 — Deschutes Land Trust, Ochoco Preserve Restoration – Phases 2 and 3 

The Crooked River and Ochoco Creek waterways frequently experience low flows, elevated summer stream temperatures, and poor water quality. These issues are compounded by a lack of suitable habitats for both fish and terrestrial wildlife, and the impacts to river ecology of Reclamation’s Crooked River Project, including Bowman and Ochoco Dams. The Deschutes Land Trust, with support from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, will restore aquatic, floodplain, and upland habitat across 124 acres on the Ochoco Preserve, located in Crook County, Oregon, adjacent to the City of Prineville.