How to provide feedback on the DBHCP

Guidelines for Reviewers of the Deschutes Basin Habitat Conservation Plan and

Draft Environmental Impact Statement

 Deschutes Basin Board of Control and City of Prineville

 

November 2019

The Deschutes Basin Habitat Conservation Plan (DBHCP) was prepared by the eight irrigation districts of the Deschutes Basin Board of Control (DBBC) and the City of Prineville (City) to support our application for incidental take permits from US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). The permits are necessary for the DBBC Districts and the City to continue their storage, release, diversion and return of water from the Deschutes River and its tributaries without the threat of prosecution for the incidental harm of fish and wildlife species listed as threatened under the Federal Endangered Species Act.

  • The DBHCP is our document and it represents our proposal to minimize and mitigate the impacts of our activities on covered fish and wildlife species.
  • We have spent the past 10 years developing the DBHCP in collaboration with USFWS, NMFS and multiple other parties in the Basin. We firmly believe it represents the appropriate types and amounts of mitigation.
  • Public comments on the types and amounts of mitigation at this stage in the process will not be particularly helpful. After 10 years of negotiation and development, no alternative has been overlooked or dismissed without being evaluated in detail and determined infeasible. While it may be tempting for reviewers to suggest alternative mitigation or different amounts of mitigation, it is unlikely such comments will identify viable alternatives to the current proposal that have not already been considered.
  • That being said, it will be important for individuals and organizations that will be affected by the DBHCP, such as cities, counties and individual farmers, to point out any impacts the DBHCP will have on them. We anticipate that opponents to the issuance of incidental take permits will comment that more mitigation is needed. At the same time, USFWS and NMFS need to hear about the implications of requiring more mitigation directly from those who would be affected.
  • Any specifics you can provide in your comments on your individual situation will be helpful. Form letters and comments that look generic typically get minimal consideration by the responsible agencies. Conversely, comments that are prepared individually and describe specific situations stand a better chance of being considered in the final decisions.
  • Certainly, if you see anything in the DBHCP that you know to be incorrect or inaccurate, we would like to hear about that. Once the public comment period is over we will prepare a final DBHCP that will be used by the Services, Districts and City for the next 30 years. This is our chance to make any necessary corrections before it is finalized.
  • Much of the DBHCP document is background information and/or required content that will be used by the Services to process our application, but won’t be particularly informative for most readers. If you want to make most efficient use of your time, concentrate on Chapter 3 – Scope of the DBHCP and Chapter 6 – Habitat Conservation.

Follow this link for details on how to submit your comments for the DBHCP and the DEIS 

The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) was prepared by a private contractor under the direction of USFWS and NMFS. It is an evaluation of the impacts of our proposed DBHCP, as required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

  • The NEPA process is complicated and the preparation of an EIS typically requires a considerable amount of professional judgement on the part of the responsible agencies and writers. It is common to see challenges to an EIS by project opponents on procedural grounds (i.e., strict adherence to the complex NEPA guidelines), but such challenges typically serve little purpose other than to delay the process and increase the overall cost. No one will be served by further delays in the issuance of the incidental take permits. We do not encourage reviewers to challenge the approach USFWS and NMFS have taken on the DEIS unless you identify a specific item that you believe has resulted in an incorrect or inaccurate portrayal of the impacts. If you do comment on such an item, be sure to provide any information you can to support your views.
  • Perhaps the most difficult analysis for the DEIS preparers was the analysis of economic impacts. The large geographic area and wide diversity of economic interests in the Basin made it difficult to capture the full impacts of the DBHCP. We suggest you review the economic analysis carefully, and provide any information you can to improve the analysis. As with the DBHCP, comments that the DEIS analysis is wrong or incomplete, without supporting data or suggested improvements, are not particularly helpful and are not likely to result in any change to the Final EIS. On the other hand, comments that describe and document economic impacts in the Basin that may have been overlooked or understated can be used to improve the accuracy of the Final EIS.
  • We anticipate opponents to the incidental take permits will comment that the DEIS overstates the economic impacts of the proposed mitigation measures to the Basin communities. We encourage reviewers to comment positively on analyses in the DBHCP that you find to be accurate. Anything you can provide to help the Services to defend their analyses will be helpful. Anything you can provide to improve it will also be helpful.
  • The technical analyses of impacts to hydrology and biological resources in the Basin are extremely complicated and are based in large part on the collaborative studies the DBBC, City and Services have conducted over the past 10 years. The analyses also benefit from the independent work of the EIS team. We will be reviewing these analyses for accuracy and consistency with the DBHCP. If you have specific expertise within your organization to review these sections, comments are always helpful, particularly if you can provide specific suggestions for improvement. If you do not have the expertise, however, you need not feel obligated to comment on these technical sections.
  • Like the DBHCP, the DEIS includes a lot of information that will have limited relevance to most reviewers. Your time will be best spent if you concentrate on the portions of Chapter 3 that discuss the impacts of Alternative 2: Proposed Action. These are interspersed throughout Chapter 3, but the section and subsection headings are explicit and clearly marked so you should be able to find them easily by scrolling through the document. There are also appendices in Volume 2 that are relevant to the impacts of Alternative 2 and worth reviewing. These are cited within the various sections of Chapter 3, so you’ll know which ones are of interest to you.

Follow this link for details on how to submit your comments for the DBHCP and the DEIS 

Lava Island Fish Rescue: a Success!

Though the date for the event shifted multiple times throughout the past week, we were blessed to have proactive volunteers ready to jump into action the moment we said: “go!” The rescue occurred across two days: Saturday evening and Sunday morning, rescuing over 3,000 fish from pools throughout the disconnected side channel (final count still pending).

Many wonder why the date shifted and it can be explained simply: the side channel drained differently this year, differently than the many years before it. There can be many theories as to why it behaved differently, but from our perspective what matters was that we were still able to jump into action and make the rescue when it was needed. We had many veterans and experts guiding the scheduling of this event, and because of their help, we were able to take the necessary action.

The rescues had great weather, the volunteers were appreciated with hot coffee donated from Strictly Organic Coffee, and a fabulous lunch sponsored/catered by Wild Oregon Foods and Village Bakery. The rescue is a temporary resolve for the seasonal flow rates within the Upper Deschutes, but even so, the Deschutes Basin Board of Control, their partners Coalition for the Deschutes, Deschutes River Conservancy, and the Deschutes Redbands Chapter of Trout Unlimited, and the many volunteers of Central Oregon made this event a positive collaboration of people sharing the same goal. The goal is to prevent damage to wildlife within the Upper Deschutes River, and to form strong connections that elevate collective action towards water management in the future.

Though this event has always been a positive experience for all those who help out, we look forward to no longer needing to rescue these fish.

Proposed Watershed Plan Released for Comment

North Unit Irrigation District, the Natural Resource Conservation Service, and

Farmers Conservation Alliance are developing a Watershed Plan – Environmental

Assessment to help the District and its irrigators to conserve water, improve water

delivery reliability, reduce energy use and operation and maintenance costs, and

enhance habitat for fish and wildlife. This project would complement prior and

ongoing modernization projects in the District.

 

You are invited to participate in a public scoping meeting to learn more about these

proposed irrigation improvements and provide feedback.

 

Meeting Information

Monday, October 21st, 2019

6:30 – 7:30 PM

Jefferson County Library – Rodriguez Annex

241 SE 7th St. Madras, Oregon 97741

 

To learn more about the project and how to submit a comment, please visit

oregonwatershedplans.org or call Farmers Conservation Alliance at

(541) 716-6085.

 Draft Deschutes Basin Habitat Conservation Plan Open for Comment

45-Day Public Comment Period Begins October 4 2019 for the Draft Deschutes Basin Habitat Conservation Plan

 

The Draft Deschutes Basin Habitat Conservation Plan (Plan) and associated Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was published on October 4, 2019 and is now available for public comment.  Written comments will be accepted through November 18, 2019

The Plan was developed and submitted by the eight member districts of the Deschutes Basin Board of Control and the City of Prineville (Applicants) to address the impacts of their water management activities on threatened and endangered species in the Deschutes Basin.

If approved, the Applicants will obtain an Incidental Take Permit, which provides Endangered Species Act regulatory assurances for thirty-years.

The covered species include the Oregon spotted frog, bull trout, steelhead trout (listed as threatened under the ESA), and sockeye salmon and Chinook salmon (not currently listed under the ESA).

The proposed conservation measures in the draft plan are mainly focused on meeting specific flows by specific timelines in key reaches of the Deschutes Basin (including the Upper Deschutes, Whychus Creek and the lower Crooked River).

 

Here’s how you can participate:

OBTAIN GENERAL INFORMATION AND ATTEND A PUBLIC MEETING HERE

ACCESS THE FEDERAL REGISTER AND ACCESS THE DOCUMENT HERE

NOTICE OF BOARD OF DIRECTORS ELECTION

The district is accepting nominations for positions on its Board of Directors for Division Three (3), in the area East of Madras between Gateway and Highland Lane, now being held by Martin Richards and one director for Division Five (5), in the area South of Iris Lane to the Crooked River, now being held by Vern Bare. A map of the divisions can be viewed at the district office or on the website at www.northunitid.com. The terms begin January 1, 2020 and are for three years. To be eligible as a director a candidate must:

  1. Be 18 years of age or older.
  1. Be the owner of water right land situated within the boundaries of the district from their respective division.
  1. Be a resident of the State of Oregon.
  2. Must submit a petition, signed by 10 landowners with North Unit Irrigation District water rights, to the district office before 5:00 pm on the 8th of October 2019.  Petitions can be obtained from the district office.

If only one petition is received per division, that petitioner will be certified as having been nominated and elected for that division. The receipt of two or more petitions for a division will require an official election to be held November 12, 2019.

2019 Petition

Operations Proceed as Usual

Following recent board review and discussion regarding water supplies for the balance of the 2019 irrigation season, there remains no change in water operations or allotment at this time.  In addition, the District currently believes there will be no need for interrupted operations.  Water supply from Wickiup Reservoir is tracking very close to last year for this time and, as a result, Wickiup Reservoir will again end up at a very low level.  The District continues to pump water from the Crooked River including the 10,000 acre-feet of NUID storage in Prineville Reservoir. The District continues to monitor supply conditions very closely and will make any necessary adjustments as warranted.

As always, feel free to contact the District office should you have any questions.

Energy Trust of Oregon Funding

Did you know that on average 50% of the irrigation systems installed throughout this region are in need of repair? Yes, you can see them spraying water, but inefficient and ineffective irrigation systems will eat up your water allotment and lower your potential crop yield.

For example, did you know your sprinklers and pressure regulators alone need to be replaced every 5-7 years? Maybe that’s a simple place to start in order to improve your yield/drop of water ordered.

So if you are looking to make the most of the water available, this is the year to fine-tune your irrigation system. And there are many different options in place to help fund the types of repairs.

Through Energy Trust of Oregon’s Energy Efficiency Program, they offer sizable rebates to help fund your upgrade and transform your irrigation system to one resilient of high energy and water costs.

 

Pivot and Linear Upgrade to MESA/LESA/LEPA/PMDI

Premium Irrigation

Where and how to fund your water savings

There are multiple avenues to fund irrigation upgrades in Jefferson County.  Some apply to all and others depend on the location of your property within the region and who provides you power. The presence of funding opportunities have been around for a while, but keeping track of them has always seemed like a fulltime job in itself.

Robert Wallace at Wy’East has heard your call. He has collected all the avenues currently on deck into one roadmap. Click Here!

Currently, there are multiple efforts focused on improving water quality and water quantity within Jefferson County. For local farmers and ranchers, that means an excess of resources and funding focused on improving how on-farm operations. The funding focuses on reducing soil erosion, silty run-off, inefficient irrigation, high energy costs, and more. Groups such as the National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), the Jefferson County Soil and Water Conservation District (JCSWCD), the Middle Deschutes Watershed Council (MDWC), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Energy Trust of Oregon, Pacific Power, Central Electric Coop, and partner Wy’East have all been seeking to find and fund projects that reach these goals.

 

It may not always seem like it, but each complete project contributes to a great tomorrow for all. Follow the links provided in Robert’s handout, or call Lisa at the main North Unit Office to find if there are projects and potential funding for you!

 

Stay safe this summer!

As the weather heats up, we will all be looking for a place to cool off. But irrigation canals should NOT make the list. Though they look similar to rushing rivers, they have more hidden dangers than what first comes to mind. Irrigation canals have hidden cement structures, slippery moss and sharp rocks, straining barbed fences, syphons and metal gates; all of which create subsurface currents that pull down and overpower even the best of swimmers. Not to mention the chemicals added to the canals to treat aquatic weeds and growth; chemicals that are undetectable but can burn the nose, eyes, and throat.

This warning comes after many drowning deaths in irrigation canals near and far. Some from accidents as valiant as trying to save one’s dog, and getting pulled deeper into the subsurface currents themselves.

The District makes its way through the 2nd-grade classrooms in Jefferson County to educate about the dangers, but that does not mean the message is only meant for them.

In case you or your children missed it, watch the story of Otto the Otter and the boy he could barely save.

 

2019 Upgrade Rebates and Incentives

How are your sprinklers, nozzles and gaskets?

For those with Pacific Power, Energy Trust of Oregon has announced their 2019 rebates and incentives.  Energy Trust of Oregon not only provides irrigation incentives through their modernization program, but they also provide for Greenhouse Upgrades, Energy-Efficient Upgrades for Equipment and Lighting and Light Controls.

“Making energy-efficient upgrades to your irrigation system can save you energy and water. Energy Trust offers rebates on irrigation hardware, and can calculate incentives for pump and irrigation system upgrades to help realize energy-related savings on your farm.”

Below are the incentives for your sprinklers, nozzles and gaskets. But if you are interested in what else Energy Trust of Oregon provides to their Pacific Power customers, visit their website.

 

Apply for cash incentives after you purchase the following qualified equipment:

Linear and pivot improvement Incentive
New low-pressure regulators $5 per regulator
New drop tube or hose extensions $2.40 per tube
New “Goose neck” elbow for drop tubes $1.65 per elbow
New multi-trajectory sprays $1 per sprinkler
New multi-trajectory sprays $4 per sprinkler
New multiple configuration nozzles $2.75 per sprinkler
Rebuilt or new impact sprinklers $3.75 per sprinkler
New drains $1 per drain
Wheel and hand-line improvement Incentive
Rebuilt or new impact sprinklers $3.75 per sprinkler
New nozzle for impact sprinkler $0.75 per nozzle
New flow controlling type nozzle $3.75 per nozzle
New drains $1 per drain
New gaskets $2.00 per gasket
Cut and pipe press repair of leaking pipes $10 per section

Incentives are subject to funding availability and may change.