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PGE, Warm Springs Tribes give $1 million for Crooked River salmon habitat restoration project

Deschutes Land Trust, PGE crews place juvenile Chinook salmon in temporary acclimation pens, called 'live cars,' at Ochoco Creek
Portland General Electric
Deschutes Land Trust, PGE crews place juvenile Chinook salmon in temporary acclimation pens, called 'live cars,' at Ochoco Creek

Will help fund restoration at Deschutes Land Trust's Ochoco Preserve wetland, wildlife preserve near Prineville

PORTLAND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Portland General Electric and the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, co-owners of the Pelton Round Butte hydroelectric project on the Deschutes River, announced Tuesday a $1 million grant to the Deschutes Land Trust for habitat restoration aiding migratory salmon in the Crooked River.

The grant was awarded through a special round of funding from the Pelton Round Butte Fund, through which PGE and the Tribes have contributed more than $27 million to 57 habitat and water quality projects in the Deschutes Basin over the last 15 years.

The Land Trust plans to use this funding to complete the first phase of a major restoration at Ochoco Preserve, the organization’s 185-acre wetland and wildlife preserve outside of Prineville. The project includes floodplain restoration, development of side-channel and wetland habitat, and construction of an acclimation pond for juvenile fish.

“Supporting projects in the Crooked River is one of the best ways we can improve conditions for both juvenile and adult fish,” says Megan Hill, PGE natural resources manager and director of the Pelton Round Butte salmon reintroduction program.

Since 2010, PGE and the Tribes say they have been advancing an ambitious, long-term effort to restore sustainable populations of salmon and steelhead to the Deschutes Basin, including the Crooked and Metolius rivers.

“We’re finding that more returning adult fish are choosing to travel up the Crooked River compared to the other tributaries upstream of Lake Billy Chinook, so it’s critical for these fish to have high-quality habitat when they arrive,” Hill said

The first phase of restoration at Ochoco Preserve, beginning next spring, will focus on McKay Creek, a tributary to the Crooked River. Construction crews will realign the creek to its historic floodplain and add more side channels, wetlands and natural structures to improve habitat for fish and wildlife.

The Land Trust will also build an acclimation pond that will eventually be used to hold juvenile spring Chinook and summer steelhead instream prior to release, a practice that helps fish imprint on the river’s unique scent and improves their chances of successfully returning as adults.

Finally, part of the restoration process will also include identifying locations for future trails and educational sites so the Land Trust can share the preserve with the community.

"The Land Trust is so grateful for this funding from the Pelton Round Butte Fund,” said Rika Ayotte, executive director of the Deschutes Land Trust. “It helps continue our long-term partnership with PGE and the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs to conserve and restore habitat for salmon and steelhead throughout Central Oregon.”

In addition to supporting habitat restoration in the Crooked River, PGE and the Tribes also recently provided funding to the new fish ladder at Opal Springs Dam and to the Crooked River Water Quality Partnership, a group developing a strategic action plan addressing water quality in the Crooked River Basin. Together, these investments are helping create accessible and hospitable fish habitat in this high-impact river system, PGE said.

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About Portland General Electric Company

Portland General Electric (NYSE: POR) is a fully integrated energy company based in Portland, Oregon, with operations across the state. The company serves approximately 900,000 customers with a service area population of 2 million Oregonians in 51 cities. PGE has 16 generation plants in five Oregon counties, and maintains and operates 14 public parks and recreation areas. For over 130 years, PGE has delivered safe, affordable and reliable energy to Oregonians. Together with its customers, PGE has the No. 1 voluntary renewable energy program in the U.S. PGE and its 3,000 employees are working with customers to build a clean energy future. In 2020, PGE, employees, retirees and the PGE Foundation donated $5.6 million and volunteered 18,200 hours with more than 400 nonprofits across Oregon. For more information visit portlandgeneral.com/news.

About the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs

The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, Oregon, is based in Central Oregon with a membership of over 5,000 Tribal Members from the Warm Springs, Wasco, and Paiute tribes. Learn more at warmsprings-nsn.gov

About Deschutes Land Trust

The Deschutes Land Trust envisions a future of strong and healthy natural and human communities—where we work together to conserve and care for the lands that make Central Oregon an incredible place to live, work, and grow. As Central Oregon’s locally-based, nationally-accredited land trust, the Deschutes Land Trust has conserved and continues to care for more than 17,523 acres since 1995. For more information on the Deschutes Land Trust, contact us at (541) 330-0017 or visit www.deschuteslandtrust.org.

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