Central Oregon Conservation Network Announces it’s First Priority for a Healthy Central Oregon

In Event, Press Release by April Christenson

BEND, OR — Today, the Central Oregon Conservation Network (COCN) announced its first Priority for a Healthy Central Oregon.

The Central Oregon Conservation Network, a coalition of eight organizations in Central Oregon working to protect our unique quality of life, has adopted its first priority for a healthy Central Oregon: to Save Tumalo Creek and protect one of our region’s most iconic features.

Tumalo Creek is Bend’s backyard recreation waterway, including the magical headwater springs, the scenic Tumalo Falls, the challenging canyon trails, the heart of Shevlin Park and the confluence with the Middle Deschutes.

For decades Tumalo Creek has been degraded by the diversion of its waters, sometimes to the point that only a trickle ends up flowing into the Middle Deschutes. “Increasing flows in Tumalo Creek, to at least the minimum instream flow goals, is essential to restoring fish habitat and preserving the scenic and recreational opportunities the creek provides,” explained Darek Staab of Trout Unlimited’s Deschutes Chapter.

With the City of Bend’s plans to potentially increase its current water consumption of two billion gallons of Tumalo Creek water per year to over four billion gallons with its Surface Water Improvement Project (SWIP), Tumalo Creek is in more danger than ever before.

The Save Tumalo Creek Campaign seeks to increase flows in Tumalo Creek, to restore a healthy fishery to Tumalo Creek and the Middle Deschutes River, and to protect the other environmental and recreational resources of the creek. Upon selection of the Save Tumalo Creek priority by the Central Oregon Conservation Network, Paul Dewey, Executive Director of Central Oregon LandWatch noted, “After decades of neglect, Tumalo Creek is finally getting the attention and advocacy it deserves”.

The Oregon League of Conservation Voters Education Fund coordinates the Central Oregon Conservation Network, a growing coalition of local organizations that work with elected officials and community members to improve environmental outcomes in Central Oregon. The COCN launched in May with eight organizations: 1000 Friends of Oregon, Central Oregon LandWatch, Oregon Natural Desert Association, Oregon League of Conservation Voters, Trout Unlimited, The Trust for Public Land, Commute Options and Friends of the Metolius.

The COCN will look to set Priorities for a Healthy Central Oregon each spring and fall. “When all of our organizations can agree upon a priority, it really shows support of the issue, and protecting Tumalo Creek clearly needed our support” shared OLCV Central Oregon Regional Director Nikki Roemmer, the coordinator of the Central Oregon Conservation Network.

The Oregon League of Conservation Voters Education Fund OLCV Education Fund works to increase the political effectiveness of Oregon’s environmental community by educating, training, and coordinating citizens and organizations. Please visit our site for more information here.