Why the DRA Science Plan?

In March of 2013 we began to hold meetings that were conducted like scientific forums.  We did that to be able to start to figure out why the changes we had observed in the lower Deschutes River were taking place.  It became clear that many of things we needed to know had not been studied.

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So we brought in some of the best experts we could find.  We had many of these experts make presentations at our meetings, and finally over the course of several months, after many discussions, a study plan emerged.  The study plan is constructed to be capable of detecting the changes in the lower river that have led to alterations in aquatic insect hatches and populations, as well the recent spread and growth of the golden brown algae we’ve all seen.

Excessive algae growth -Summer 2013

The plan takes aim at two key parameters for river health, temperature and water chemistry.  Water temperatures have not been shown to be higher at their maximum, but they are warmer earlier in the year.  This might affect insect maturation and emergence, and it could help stimulate algae growth.  So understanding temperature and how it is distributed geographically and over time is important to understanding what is happening to our river.  Water chemistry is the cumulative product of many processes.  These include chemicals leaching into the water from the geology of the river and its tributaries, as well as runoff from man influenced sources such as sewage treatment plants, agricultural fields, and burn areas.

Salmon flies -spring 2013

The DRA Science Plan is designed to detect and determine each of the influences listed above.  It is far more complex than described above, but has to be in order to be scientifically credible.  Our goal is to produce a level of science that will stand up to scientific review at an academic level, as well as act as evidence in any administrative or legal process that is necessary to bring about management changes.

Please help us in executing the plan by donating to the DRA via this website.  Thank you!

Greg McMillan, Director of Science and Conservation

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