Draft Deschutes Basin Habitat Conservation Plan

Deschutes Redbands TU's Assessment of the Draft Deschutes Basin Habitat Conservation Plan


The Deschutes Redbands Chapter and Oregon TU’s Staff Attorney completed a review of the draft Deschutes Basin Habitat Conservation Plan (DBHCP) and accompanying draft Environmental Impact Statements (EIS). Based on this review, we submitted detailed comments on December 3, 2019. Those comments are linked below. 


Many years in the making, the DBHCP proposes a 30-year “incidental take permit” (ITP) for the covered species of steelhead, bull trout, Oregon spotted frog, Chinook and sockeye salmon. The ITP applicants are the 8 irrigation districts in the Deschutes Basin along with the city of Prineville. These documents also attempt to model and based on this modeling propose flow regimes for the upper Deschutes River, Whychus Creek and the Crooked River. As you might guess, the documents are enormous and complex yet vitally important for the future of Central Oregon rivers and fisheries. TU’s review concluded that the DBHCP as proposed falls short of a comprehensive approach. We are particularly concerned about their proposed timing and amount of water to be released into the upper Deschutes during winter. The DBHCP offers a skewed framework that errs heavily on the side of meeting existing irrigation demand over a 30-year timeframe while providing little assurance that its conservation measures will effectively maintain or improve habitat conditions for covered species. As a result, the DBHCP fails to meet the requirements of the Endangered Species Act (ESA).


We invite you to read our full comments and/or our much shorter overview linked below: