The recent fish kill on the upper Deschutes River is deplorable. Thousands of fish, including large brown trout, rainbow trout and other species died due to poor water-management practices. State water managers, those responsible for the flow of the river, say nothing was done differently in the reduction of river flows than in the past. However, in previous years there were not fish kills of this magnitude.
Fish need clean, cold water to survive. Many conservation groups have worked diligently to improve the health of our streams and rivers. Climate change will adversely impact stream flows in the future, as will efforts by the city of Bend to take surface water instead of ground water.
Our rivers, and the fish and wildlife that inhabit them, are what make Oregon a special place to live and recreate. Therefore, every effort should be made to protect and enhance these ecosystems. Unfortunately the Deschutes has been managed primarily as an irrigation ditch.
Hopefully, this fish kill will be a wake-up call to those in charge to manage the Deschutes in a more balanced and responsible way. This tragedy was completely avoidable. The city of Bend’s choice to take surface water from Bridge Creek (which provides essential cold, clean water to the Deschutes) is also avoidable, and unnecessary.