Butterflies    Clouds & Sky
   Plant Life





Government Impact on the Riparian Environment

There are more laws and government agencies concerned with the riparian area than with any other aspect of the ranch.  This section briefly describes legislation that affects the ranch and identifies other legislation that might seem relevant but does not actually affect the ranch.  This section also identifies government agencies that have jurisdiction and two agreements made with Deschutes County.  See the Government Agency Appendix for more information.

Federal Legislation

The Clean Water Act aims to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of waters in the United States.  Under this act, the state of Oregon has listed the lower stretch of the Little Deschutes with the Environmental Protection Agency for having low levels of dissolved oxygen.  As discussed in the Stream Flows section, the oxygen is low because water is accumulated in Crescent Lake over the winter and released over the summer.  There is no indication that the EPA will take any action to alter the seasonal stream flow in the foreseeable future.

The Endangered Species Act (ESA), with subsequent court rulings, prohibits the “taking” of an endangered species, including, in some cases, habitat modification.  There are no endangered species on the ranch.

The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, administered by the National Park Service, protects designated stretches of river, including the top twelve miles of the Little Deschutes.  The act has no impact on the ranch.

State Legislation

The Scenic Waterways Act requires approval by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department for any new activity by a landowner within a quarter mile of a designated scenic waterway, including groundwater pumping.  The Little Deschutes is not a designated scenic waterway (even though it’s beautiful).  The parts of the Deschutes River that are designated scenic waterways are not within a quarter mile of the ranch.  The closest scenic waterways are the Deschutes River from the gaging station below Wickiup Dam to the General Patch Bridge and from Harper Bridge to about three miles above the Colorado Street bridge in Bend.

The Instream Water Rights Act allows owners of rights to take water from rivers (generally farmers and irrigation districts) to convey the rights (and the water) to instream flows in three ways.  Permanent transfers and temporary transfers (leasing) are the first two methods.  The third, relatively unique among western states, allows the holder  of water rights to lease, sell, or transfer a portion of water the holder conserves while continuing to satisfy the use for which the owner’s rights were obtained (e.g to irrigate a given acreage).  For example, water saved by lining irrigation canals can be leased to the state or other entities and used to increase the flow in the river.  In the case of the Little Deschutes, water conservation by farmers downstream and their leasing out some of the conserved water means less water has to be stored and released from Crescent Lake to support irrigation.   Seasonal stream flow can then more closely approximate the natural flow.

County Law and Agreements

County zoning law forbids building within 100 feet of ordinary high water.  The ordinary high water mark is usually the top of the river bank and seasonal high water often rises above ordinary high water. 

To develop Vandevert Ranch, the developer was required to sign two agreements affecting natural resources with Deschutes County.

The Willow Management Plan (in the Appendices) allows the developer to remove 25% of the willows along the river banks (i.e. within ten feet of the river) and 75% of the willows in the riparian influence area back from the river.  The percentages apply to the willows shown in the 1979 aerial photograph.  Since many more willows have grown up since 1979, the ranch could remove a great deal of willow while remaining within the bounds of the agreement.

A Conservation Easement designates limited areas along the river which are to remain undisturbed. 

Government Agencies with Jurisdiction

Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) – Safeguards the quality of the water in the river.

Oregon Department of State Lands – Must approve any destruction of wetlands (usually mitigated by the addition of new wetlands nearby).  The destruction of wetlands necessary to build the ranch bridge was mitigated by the creation of wetlands around the pond.

U.S. Corp of Army Engineers - Must approve construction (e.g. bridges) in wetland areas and placement of material in the river.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Designates the wetland area.

Continue to Riparian Objectives and Strategies
Return to Stewardship Plan Table of Contents


Copyright 2004-2010 The Vandevert Ranch Association Neither the Association nor its members guarantees the accuracy or completeness of information or representations on this Web Site. Buyers should obtain definitive information from their real estate agent.