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Stream of Consciousness; You Are Saving One Small Stream at a Time


You love big western rivers. Oregon has some of the best out there – the Deschutes, the John Day, the Rogue, the Umpqua. Your investment in WaterWatch protects and restores streamflows on many of these big iconic rivers for fish, wildlife and the people, like you, who care deeply about the health of these rivers. But, as you know, small streams are essential too. Small streams comprise most of the stream mileage in Oregon. Small streams provide critical habitat for the salmon and steelhead that spawn in tributaries and many other species of fish, birds, plants, and insects. Inland, these small streams can provide genetic reservoirs for bull trout, Lahontan cutthroat trout, and many other species. Smaller streams provide a gentle place to explore with children, a place to teach a young one to fish or to skip stones. Small streams have a beauty and delight all their own, perhaps not always as majestic as the lower Deschutes River or the Wild and Scenic Rogue – though Joseph Creek might beg to differ – but instead intimate and welcoming in scale. The charms of small streams can often be easily approached. These streams are important and they deserve our best efforts. You are saving the world one small stream at a time by supporting WaterWatch.

A sampling of the small stream success stories made possible by your investment in WaterWatch includes the following:
In the John Day Basin, your support stopped dozens of illconceived dam projects on Thirtymile Creek, retired water rights in the Rock Creek area, and created tools that help restore streamflows on small streams across the basin.
In the Umatilla Basin, on Mill Creek, a relatively pristine stronghold for bull trout, you protected higher flow events, secured water for streamflows in the dry summer months, and safeguarded the uppermost reaches by moving a large point of diversion for a city from the headwaters area to a location seventeen miles downstream.
In the Rogue Basin, you helped notch a never-completed dam on Elk Creek and you are supporting projects to remove two of the highest priority fish passage barriers in Oregon on Evans Creek. This project will provide unimpeded access to 70 miles of high quality small stream habitat for migratory and resident fish. Your investment also protected and restored streamflows on Big Butte Creek and supports ongoing water conservation and efficiency projects that could help restore streamflows and water quality on Little Butte Creek. You made sure that the Little Applegate will always flow, even in times of drought, by supporting transactions to acquire the most senior water rights on the stream for instream use. You have also helped stop, to date, the degradation of Grave Creek by a large proposed mining project. Grave Creek marks the put-in for boaters on the world-famous whitewater run and federally-designated Wild section of the Wild and Scenic lower mainstem Rogue, as well as the eastern trailhead of the Lower Rogue River Trail.
In the Deschutes Basin, your support has helped restore streamflows on Wychus Creek, Bear Creek, and Spring Creek, among others.
In southeastern Oregon you have protected Home, Threemile, and Whitehorse creeks from excessive water development. These streams are important for imperiled desert fish and other species.
On the Oregon coast, you have supported projects that have protected and restored streamflows for Horn Creek, Drift Creek, and many, many small coastal streams through WaterWatch’s administrative challenges to damaging water development proposals and other work on coastal basin plans that affect water use from these streams.

Across Oregon, your support has resulted in hundreds of instream water rights on small streams. Many more instream water rights for small streams are now in the works. You made these extraordinary results possible. Yet, small streams across Oregon remain under attack from ongoing efforts to drain, dam, and otherwise degrade these critical waterways. The challenge of protecting and restoring small streams across Oregon is a good fight that’s worth winning. To paraphrase Thoreau and Aldo Leopold, “In the protection and restoration of small streams is the preservation of the world.”

Thank you for your vision and support. Let’s continue to save the world one small stream at a time.



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