Support Fish Passage at Bowman Dam and the Restoration of Instream Flows in the Crooked River Basin! 

Bowman Dam is considered the highest priority fish passage barrier in the Deschutes watershed and blocks access to nearly 500 stream miles of upstream habitat


Support Fish Passage at Bowman Dam and the Restoration of Instream Flows in the Crooked River Basin!

Dear WaterWatch Supporters:

Bowman Dam on the Crooked River (which creates Prineville Reservoir) blocks access to nearly 500 stream miles of upstream habitat, including habitat in the North Fork Crooked, South Fork Crooked and Beaver Creek. Native migratory fish that could utilize habitat above the dam include, but are not limited to, redband trout, steelhead trout and Chinook salmon. 

Bowman Dam is identified as one of the state’s 2019 Statewide Fish Passage Priority Barriers (#16 out of 589 Group 1 high priority barriers). Bowman Dam is considered the highest priority fish passage barrier in the Deschutes watershed.

Bowman dam does not currently have fish passage. However, an opportunity has arisen to fix this longstanding problem and achieve passage at the dam.

Ochoco Irrigation District has applied to install a hydroelectric power plant at Bowman Dam. This action has triggered Oregon’s fish passage laws. Oregon’s fish passage laws require OID to provide passage, or in the alternative, apply for a waiver. Waivers can only be granted if mitigation is offered that will result in benefits to fish that are greater than the benefits of passage. 

OID has applied for a waiver, however. Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) has determined that the proposed mitigation actions will not provide greater benefits than if passage were provided at the Dam. Passage would open up nearly 500 miles of upstream habitat whereas the mitigation by OID would only benefit 4.2 miles below the dam. ODFW has recommended to its Commission that it NOT approve the fish passage waiver.

We applaud ODFW for its commitment to ensuring that Oregon’s fish passage laws are upheld, and that the health of the Crooked River is advanced.

Act Now!

What can you do? Act Now! Please lend your voice today to urge the Commission to deny the fish passage waiver application that is before it!

Please send comments to ODFW by June 22 to:

Ted Wise, ODFW East Region Hydropower Program Coordinator. Click on the link below to submit a comment to him by email. You can also write to him by regular mail: 61374 Parrell Road Bend, OR 97702.

Suggested Talking Points to Send

  • Support ODFW’s recommended denial of the District’s fish passage waiver application;
  • Urge the Fish and Wildlife Commission to require fish passage that would open up 500 miles of habitat in the Upper Crooked Watershed;
  • If the Ochoco Irrigation District continues to push for a waiver, urge the Fish and Wildlife Commission to demand that mitigation be in the form of instream flow restoration and protection. 

Specifically ask for:

  • Commitment to provide permanent instream flow for fish;
  • Legal protection of that flow instream from Bowman Dam to Lake Billy Chinook;
  • Flow targets based on ODFW’s “balanced flows” for the Crooked River
  • Withdrawal of Ochoco Irrigation District’s “protest” of ODFW’s instream water right on the lower Crooked River that has held up the issuance of an instream water right on the Crooked River for nearly three decades. (Yes, you read that right. The very same irrigation district that wants a waiver of fish passage laws for its hydro project has held up streamflow protection on the Crooked River below Bowman Dam for three decades. That's not acceptable.) 

If you're interested...

The fish passage wavier application, the Department’s benefit analyses and additional documentation provided by the Applicant are available here

Oregon’s Fish Passage Laws, including statutes and rules can be found here and here, respectively.

Onwards, and for rivers...

--The Staff of WaterWatch of Oregon

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