If approved by Congress, a water allocation plan for Oregon’s Crooked River could damage both the fisheries and public access at Prineville Reservoir, according to Chuck Lang, conservation director for the Oregon B.A.S.S. Federation Nation.
“The speed and timing and volume of the drawdowns for salmon recovery have not been revealed to the public, but they are all critical elements that will determine the success or failure of the fisheries behind the dam,” he said.
“It will take only a few failed spawn periods to wipe out the largemouth bass population, for which there are no hatchery replacement fish available.”
Additionally, drawing as much water as the plan calls for would leave boat ramps useless until lengthened, he added, and, with a lower water column, boats and wind likely would stir up sediment, which has been accumulating for more than 50 years.
“The result will be algae blooms and an unusable lake for much of the summer and fall.”
Lang said that some in Oregon’s Congressional delegation share his concerns, but would be reluctant to say so publically because of political repercussions.
When the Crooked River Collaborative Water Security Act was introduced in Washington, D.C., it was hailed by many as a grand compromise that benefitted the city of Prineville, farmers, and wildlife.
“This bill ends 40 years of fighting and paralysis over water in the Prineville Reservoir. This is historic and a great opportunity for economic growth in the Crooked River region,” said Sen. Jeff Merkley, one of the bill’s sponsors.
“I thank all the stakeholders for their unflagging efforts to develop this agreement. This bill provides many benefits: the City of Prineville will have access to additional water that’s critical to support new industries; local farmers and ranchers will get more secure and expanded access to irrigation water; and additional water would be available to support fish and wildlife, including the world-class fly fishery and newly reintroduced steelhead.”
But Lang counters that bass and other warmwater anglers were not invited to participate in the planning process when it was moved from Prineville to Washington, D.C.
(Reprinted from B.A.S.S. Times.)