A Community Coming Together
Since 2005, The Freshwater Trust worked with 115 ranchers and farmers to maintain instream flow in the Lostine River near Enterprise, Oregon. The project protects 15 cfs in the river, allowing adult Chinook slamon to reach their spawning grounds high in the Wallowa Mountains unimpeded. Under agreements with six ditch companies, The Freshwater Trust compensates willing landowners - and for their efforts, the Oregon Chapter of the American Fisheries Society awarded the irrigantors with the "2005 Award of Merit."
"I have no doubt that this section of the Lostine River would be dry without this project in place.”
— Jim Harbeck, from Nez Perce Fisheries
To ensure the 15 cfs minimum is met each year, Oregon Water Resources Department operates a water level recorder. Manual flow measurements are also taken daily and reported to ditch manager. Additionally, working with the Nez Pierce Tribe Fisheries Department, The Freshwater Trust is helping to conduct a radio telemetry tracking study of a spring Chinook salmon to determine whether 15 cfs is enough water for migrating and spawning fish. This year is the third year of this important study.
The project will continue to protect flow in the Lostine through the 2011 irrigation season, and by that time, The Freshwater Trust hopes to have negotiated a permanent flow protection agreement with Lostine irrigators.