Recent Press Releases
WaterWatch of Oregon Issues Warning to Protect Deschutes River, August 13, 2015
WaterWatch announced its intention to challenge the Central Oregon Irrigation District, North Unit Irrigation District, Tumalo Irrigation District, and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation over harm caused by their water use operations in the Upper Deschutes River. The conservationists allege that managing the Deschutes more like an irrigation ditch than a river has caused significant damage to river health. The challenge deals specifically with the stretch of the Deschutes between Wickiup Reservoir and the City of Bend.
Top Priority Dam Removal Nears Completion in Rogue River Basin, August 10, 2015
This week, work crews will start demolition work on Fielder Dam on Evans Creek that will restore access for native fish on a key spawning tributary of the Rogue River. Earlier, workers completed demolition on Wimer Dam, several miles upstream of Fielder Dam.
Columbia River Treaty: State Department to Include Ecosystem Function in Negotiating Position, June 4, 2015
Northwest conservation groups and the fishing community praised the U.S. State Department for including ecosystem function in the nation’s negotiation position as it prepares to negotiate the Columbia River Treaty with Canada.
Tumalo Creek Ruling Protects Streams Throughout Oregon, May 4, 2015
The Oregon Department of Water Resources dealt a blow to a scheme to use scarce Tumalo Creek water to create water-skiing ponds for a luxury home development in Central Oregon’s High Desert near Bend. The Department’s denial of a key water transfer application was a victory for those who cherish Oregon’s rivers and streams.
Major Grant Awarded to Top Priority Rogue Basin Dam Removal Project, April 28, 2015
Funding means salmon and steelhead will regain access to 70 miles of habitat on Evans Creek, a key Rogue River spawning tributary.
Judge Affirms Ruling Favoring Wildlife on Klamath Refuges, April 16, 2015
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service given August 2016 deadline to complete plan to ensure refuge’s commercial agribusiness program doesn’t harm wildlife.
Statement Regarding the 2015 Klamath Project Operations Plan, April 8, 2015
Yet again, the Bureau of Reclamation’s plan provides no water for wetlands on Tule Lake and Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuges, setting the refuges’ waterfowl on a path to disaster.
Judge’s Ruling Favors Wildlife on Klamath Refuges, March 5, 2015
A U.S. Magistrate Judge today issued a preliminary finding ordering the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to complete the long overdue “Comprehensive Conservation Plan” for Lower Klamath and Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuges.
WaterWatch of Oregon Announces Hire of Brian Posewitz, February 19, 2015
We are thrilled to announce longtime general litigation and water attorney Brian Posewitz has joined the organization as a staff attorney, starting in February 2015.
Appeals Court Delivers Victory for Clackamas River Salmon and Steelhead, December 31, 2014
Opinion requires state of Oregon to maintain flows needed for imperiled fish.
Merkley, Walden Deliver Crooked River Victory for Central Oregon, December 12, 2014
Bipartisan agreement will deliver greater water security and economic growth for Central Oregon.
Foreign Owned Mining Company Renews Push for Controversial Mine in Wild and Scenic Smith River Headwaters, December 9, 2014
Local communities vowed continued opposition after Red Flat Nickel Corporation filed a petition with the Oregon Water Resources Department asking the agency to reconsider denial of the company’s application to withdraw water for the Cleopatra test drilling project in a pristine Smith River tributary.
Recent Press Clips
Editorial: Legal Threat is a Wake Up Call, The Source Weekly, September 23, 2015
Bend’s Source Weekly urges local irrigation districts to end delaying needed changes to Upper Deschutes River water management, ensure they are taking appropriate steps to protect fish and wildlife, and make those efforts clear and indisputable.
In My View: Restore the Deschutes River to its natural flow, Bend Bulletin, September 17, 2015
Gail Snyder of Central Oregon LandWatch argues that we can have both agriculture and a healthy Deschutes River, but to ensure the long-term health of the river for all, we must reduce the amount of water taken out for irrigation.
Yurok Tribe pulls out of Klamath River agreement, Triplicate, September 17, 2015
The Yurok Tribe has announced it will be withdrawing from the Klamath Agreements, which have not been able to get the U.S. congressional approval needed for implementation. The Karuk Tribe and the Klamath Tribes of Oregon will also pull out from the deal if the agreements continue to languish in Congress.
Guest Opinion: Removal of obsolete dams benefits rivers, the public and landowners, Medford Mail-Tribune, September 6, 2015
Guest opinion by WaterWatch and Geos Institute discusses the tremendous benefits provided by the Rogue River dam removals and the state and federal programs that support this important work.
In My View: Water usage must change to help the Deschutes River, Bend Bulletin, August 27, 2015
Jeff Perin, owner of The Fly Fisher’s Place in Sisters and WaterWatch board member, makes the case against managing Upper Deschutes River flows solely for irrigation purposes, and urges taking action now to increase winter flows and restore the river’s health for the benefit of fish, wildlife, and the people of Central Oregon.
Feds release extra water to save Klamath salmon from disease, Associated Press, August 21, 2015
With water scarce in Northern California’s Klamath Basin, a federal agency is again releasing Trinity River water into the Klamath River to prevent a repeat of the 2002 fish kill that left tens of thousands of adult salmon dead.
Tribes call on bureau to release fish-kill prevention flows this week, Eureka Times-Standard, August 17, 2015
The Hoopa Valley Tribe and Yurok Tribe believe that the federal government’s proposed Trinity River releases fall short of what is needed to protect Klamath Basin salmon.
Feds threatened with second suit over Deschutes River management practices, Oregonian, August 13, 2015
WaterWatch has issued notice to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and three Bend-area irrigation districts of its plans to sue unless the agencies begin leaving more water in the river for frogs and other wildlife.
State will test fish-passage mitigation bank, Mail Tribune, August 7, 2015
State fish managers will test-drive a new, big-picture approach to fixing fish-passage barriers by bypassing otherwise required work on some bridges and culverts. WaterWatch and allies are closely monitoring the pilot project for negative impacts to fish.
2 Of Oregon’s Worst Dams For Fish Are Coming Down, OPB, August 5, 2015
WaterWatch-led effort to remove the Rogue Basin’s Wimer and Fielder dams to benefit salmon nears successful completion.
Is Lake Oswego too thirsty for the Clackamas to handle?, KGW.com, August 4, 2015
Lake Oswego wants the ability to take another 22 million gallons a day from the Clackamas River. Conservationists fear fish won’t survive.
‘Mitigation banking’, Mail Tribune, August 2, 2015
WaterWatch is looking warily at this pilot project to ensure that agencies don’t write off salmon habitat in small streams in favor of larger, more visible projects.
Opinion: It’s Time to Acknowledge KBRA Isn’t a Solution, Two Rivers Tribune, July 28, 2015
WaterWatch’s Jim McCarthy argues that tribal and coastal communities dependent on Klamath River salmon deserve better than the vague promises of the long-stalled of the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (KBRA).
Basin water pact stalled in Senate, Herald & News, July 12, 2015
With the bloated bill to enact the Klamath Basin water agreements still stalled in Congress, supporters admit that Klamath dam removal – the main selling point for the package – is inevitable even if the legislation fails to become law.
‘Make-believe water’ bill would be disaster for Klamath, Register-Guard, July 11, 2015
Guest opinion by WaterWatch’s Jim McCarthy rebuts claims that long-stalled federal legislation in the U.S. Senate will resolve the Klamath River Basin’s water woes.
Flip-flopped dam-removal plans on Evans Creek could start next week, Mail Tribune, July 6, 2015
Construction crews next week plan to move into the Evans Creek drainage in preparation for removing the two worst remaining fish-killers in the Rogue River Basin, but a pending permit appeal blocking the demolition of Fielder Dam means crews will first start to dismantle Wimer Dam as part of the $688,900 project to open more than 70 miles of spawning grounds in the upper Evans Creek drainage for wild salmon and steelhead.
Investigation Will Determine If Klamath Irrigators’ Group Misused Federal Funds, OPB, July 2, 2015
A government whistleblower protection office has authorized an investigation into alleged misuse of federal funds after two federal biologists filed a complaint accusing the Klamath Water and Power Agency of using money for drought-stressed fish to pay for things like office space, travel and employee salaries.
Guest Opinion: Wyden legislation is not what the Klamath refuges need, Oregonian, June 27, 2015
In a joint Oregonian guest opinion, WaterWatch and Portland Audubon urge the public to participate in the upcoming public process to decide the future of the Klamath refuges, and help make the case that wildlife like eagles, ducks, and geese must take priority over agribusiness on our national wildlife refuge lands.
Harney groundwater worries halt new well permits, Capital Press, June 23, 2015
Water regulators have largely stopped permitting new agricultural wells in Oregon’s Harney Basin due to concerns about groundwater depletion. The action came after WaterWatch protested several approvals last year.
Dam Laws, Willamette Week, June 17, 2015
The owner of a giant Eastern Oregon ranch again brings his issues — and checkbook — to Salem to push for a bill harmful to fish and the public interest.
Tribal members speak out against settlement, Herald & News, June 4, 2015
Members of the Klamath Tribes are speaking out against the Klamath water settlements and the new land base being written into them.
Feds: Columbia River Treaty’s future is a ‘priority’, Wenatchee World, June 4, 2015
The U.S. State Department will include the region’s key recommendations in future negotiations with Canada over how to modernize the Columbia River Treaty.
Land for Klamath Tribes identified, Herald & News, May 30, 2015
The Klamath Tribes and U.S. Forest Service officials have mutually agreed upon a specific parcel of Fremont-Winema National Forest land that will be returned to the Tribes if Senate Bill 133, the Klamath Basin Water Recovery and Economic Restoration Act of 2015, is enacted by Congress this year.
Bottling water in a drought?, Bloomberg News, May 27, 2015
Nestle’s plan to bottle Oregon’s spring water is stoking a fight with lawmakers and environmental activists who say a corporation shouldn’t be allowed to profit from a natural resource as drought spreads across the state.
Major fish kill likely in Klamath River as salmon parasite thrives in drought, Associated Press, May 20, 2015
Drought has produced conditions allowing deadly salmon parasites to thrive in the Klamath River, infecting nearly all the juvenile chinook salmon waiting to migrate to the ocean. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation says it has no water to send special flows down the river to flush out the parasites and help the young salmon.
County formally requests promised Trinity River flows, Times-Standard, May 19, 2015
The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to send a letter to the federal government making a formal request for its promised 50,000 acre-feet of Trinity River water in advance of another summer of drought and possible litigation.
Farmer v. farmer: Future of Oregon water at center of fight over new dam in Silverton, Oregonian, May 16, 2015
About six miles outside of Silverton, the Victor Point area features a canyon that Drift Creek runs through. The creek, the only tributary to the Pudding River that isn’t dammed, is the focal point of a fight between farmers about whether to dam the creek and flood the canyon bottom.
Oregon wildlife officials eye phased-in hunting, fishing fee increases, Associated Press, May 16, 2015
Lawmakers are considering how to plug a $32 million funding gap for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife through a combination of raising hunting and fishing license fees, devoting more state revenues to the department and cutting personnel.
State sets fish ladders at Opal Springs as top priority, Bulletin, May 10, 2015
The big effort to restore ocean-going fish runs in Central Oregon’s major rivers has put the focus on a small diversion dam a half-mile up the Crooked River from Lake Billy Chinook. A contingent of fish and water groups — including WaterWatch — have joined together to support a website, www.opal sprignspassage.org, explaining the situation and asking for donations to help change it.
Water storage denied for Tumalo reservoirs, Bulletin, May 6, 2015
WaterWatch opposed the water transfer because of the precedent it could set for other streams and water right issues around Oregon.
Rivers Recover Rapidly Once Dams Are Gone, Study Finds, OPB, April 30, 2015
A new study sums up what scientists now know about the environmental effects of removing dams from rivers. It concludes that rivers and fish respond quickly after a dam is removed, and the results are mostly positive.
Klamath Tribes seek parts of Fremont-Winema National Forest after failed land deal, Oregonian, April 24, 2015
In bid to revive their failing Klamath Basin water settlement legislation in Congress, Senators Wyden and Merkley seek to transfer part of the the Fremont-Winema National Forest to The Klamath Tribes.
Tribes call for water, Herald & News, April 24, 2015
Since Monday, water calls have been made on 10 Klamath River Basin streams, including the Sprague, Sycan, and Wood rivers. Water shutoffs could begin as early as next week.
Artificial beaver dam bill advances Oregon House, Capital Press, April 24, 2015
A bill allowing dams without fish passage in Oregon’s Malheur Lake drainage basin has crossed a key legislative hurdle despite opposition from some conservationists, including WaterWatch.
Evans Creek dams on track for removal this summer, Mail Tribune, April 11, 2015
Two of Oregon’s worst wild fish barriers are on track to be jettisoned from Evans Creek this summer under a plan to open as much as 70 miles of prime spawning habitat for the Rogue River Basin’s wild salmon and steelhead.
No water for Lower Klamath refuge, Herald & News, April 10, 2015
WaterWatch’s Jim McCarthy explains how denying water to this critical national wildlife refuge sets waterfowl on a path to disaster.
Water Allocations Not Enough for Wildlife, KDRV News, April 8, 2015
WaterWatch’s Jim McCarthy describes how the federal government’s 2015 plan for Klamath Project water allocations is a likely death sentence for birds in the Klamath National Wildlife Refuges, and puts salmon downstream at significant risk.
Farmers on Oregon-California border might get less water than they expect, Associated Press, April 8, 2015
The allocation means no water at all for local wildlife refuges, except on lands leased to farmers to grow commercial crops, and represents a likely death sentence for thousands of birds dependent upon refuge wetlands.
Fake beaver dam bill divides environmentalists, Capital Press, April 1, 2015
HB 3217 purports to be about beaver dam restoration, but would allow permanent dams on streams historically used by native fish while exempting these structures from current law which ensures that fish can move safely past dams to reach important habitat.
Lake Abert Dries Up, OPB, March 19, 2015
WaterWatch staff attorney Lisa Brown discusses our work to rescue Lake Abert on the Oregon Field Guide.
Water settlement comes into question, Herald & News, March 5, 2015
Three Basin tribes have begun a mediation process that could end in termination of the deeply flawed Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (KBRA).
Feds must create conservation plans for Lower Klamath, Tule Lake wildlife refuges, Oregonian, March 5, 2015
Federal fish and wildlife managers must complete a plan to ensure commercial activities at two Northwest federal wildlife refuges do not harm wildlife, a U.S. magistrate judge has ruled.
Government Whistleblowers Say Klamath Irrigators Misusing Federal Funds, OPB, February 18, 2015
Two government biologists say millions of dollars in federal funds intended to secure water for fish in the Klamath Basin were instead used to directly compensate local farmers and ranchers.
ODFW commission picks Curt Melcher to run agency, Oregonian, February 13, 2015
Curt Melcher, a longtime Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife employee who has led the agency on a temporary basis for the past five months, will be its next director.
Nine-month construction delay on West Linn water treatment plant angers neighbors, surprises project managers, Oregonian, February 12, 2015
Neighbors in West Linn’s Robinwood neighborhood surprised to learn construction work on the water treatment plant near their homes will continue much longer than they expected.
Oregon Court of Appeals sides with salmon in lawsuit over Clackamas River water use, Associated Press, January 5, 2015
The Oregon Court of Appeals has ruled that the state Water Resources Department failed to limit the amount of water cities and water districts can draw from the lower Clackamas River so that there would be enough water left in the river for threatened and endangered salmon.