The Little Deschutes River meanders for two
miles through Vandevert Ranch. A profusion of old
river channels is visible on aerial photos and on Google Earth. As
recent examples, two oxbows shown in a
1979 aerial photo have since been cut off by the river.
The wetlands and floodplain constitute the
wildest and most “natural” part of the ranch. They are well on the
road to recovery from eighty years of cattle grazing (from 1892 to
the 1970’s) which collapsed some banks into the river and limited the
growth of willows. For a description of the full 92 mile course of the river click here.
The river hosts migratory ducks and geese and provides habitat for brown trout, otter, beaver, and a few mink. It provides a great recreational opportunity for owners who canoe or float the ranch.
Deschutes is not listed for any chemical or biological pollutants
but the oxygen in the water is less than optimal from miles above the ranch down to where the river joins the "Big" Deschutes. There would be more fish in the river if the oxygen levels were higher. Fortunately there are plenty of big strong rainbow trout in the lake for owners to catch.
Under two grants
administered by the Oregon Water Enhancement Board, the ranch has
done extensive work to stabilize the river banks and improve fish habitat.
(See report in the appendices) The
work consisted of anchoring live pine trees, harvested from the
ranch, horizontally along the banks of the river at or below water
level (See photo at right taken when the water level was low.
The water is flowing toward the camera). The trees prevent erosion and help to direct water toward
the center of the river. Deeper, narrower, and faster currents
clear silt from between the small stones on the river floor,
creating a better environment for spawning and for the small aquatic
animals that are food for fish.