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By Jim Cornelius
News Editor 

More water to flow in Whychus Creek


Last updated 12/7/2021 at Noon

Jim Cornelius

Whychus Creek has become a destination for hikers in Sisters Country.

The Deschutes River Conservancy and Deschutes Land Trust have completed a water rights transfer that will help return more water to a local stream, providing a buffer for future drought years. They recently completed a transfer to move 40.2 acres of irrigation water rights (up to 0.59 cfs or 214 acre-feet) to instream use in Whychus Creek. This transfer will add over 69 million gallons of water to Whychus Creek from April to October. An acre-foot is the amount of water that would cover one acre to a depth of one foot.

The water rights are from two Land Trust protected properties, Whychus Canyon Preserve and Rimrock Ranch, and will help protect instream flows for native fish and wildlife, including reintroduced salmon and steelhead. The transfer coincides with major stream restoration efforts taking place at both properties to improve the health, water quality, and water quantity of Whychus Creek. Funding for this water conservation project was provided by the Pelton Round Butte Water Fund.

“This has been a record drought year for Central Oregon, underlining the critical need for continued water stewardship and flow restoration efforts. Every little bit helps in terms of improving the overall health of our rivers and creeks for the future of Central Oregon. Our partnerships with the Land Trust and the Upper Deschutes Watershed Council have been instrumental in the Whychus Creek restoration progress made to date,” said Kate Fitzpatrick, Deschutes River Conservancy executive director.

“The Land Trust is committed to building healthy natural systems for our region in the face of a changing climate. This water transfer will help make our protected lands on Whychus Creek more sustainable in the long term, improve water quality and quantity, and create healthier habitat for fish and wildlife in Central Oregon. We’re very grateful to our partners and funders who made this transfer possible,” said Natasha Bellis, Deschutes Land Trust conservation


The Deschutes River Conservancy and Deschutes Land Trust have been collaborating for more than 15 years to restore flows and protect land along Whychus Creek. Together with a wide variety of local partners they’ve returned up to 20,000 acre-feet of water to the creek and conserved more than 3,226 acres of land and nine miles of the creek for clean water and habitat.

Author Bio

Jim Cornelius, Editor in Chief

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Jim Cornelius is editor in chief of The Nugget and author of “Warriors of the Wildlands: True Tales of the Frontier Partisans.” A history buff, he explores frontier history across three centuries and several continents on his podcast, The Frontier Partisans. For more information visit


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