Deschutes Basin Land Trust - Metolius Preserve Project

The 2003 Deschutes Basin Project in Oregon

Update: July 2003

Orvis’ four-way matching campaign has raised over $135,000 toward the Deschutes Basin Land Trust’s purchase of habitat critical to restoring salmon populations in central Oregon. The deadline for this project is July 25, 2003, and although Orvis’ matching goal of $120,000 has been met, the Land Trust only has two million of the three million dollars they need to raise for this project to be successful. Help is still urgently needed! For more information about the Deschutes Basin Land Trust, visit their website:

Your donation to the Deschutes Basin Land Trust’s Metolius Preserve project will be matched 3 times, helping restore long-lost salmon runs to the Metolius River.

"We’re excited to help the Deschutes Basin Land Trust in their efforts to protect 1,240 acres in Central Oregon’s Metolius River Basin. Orvis has committed to a $120,000 campaign that will secure a home for returning fish in the Metolius sub-basin of the Deschutes River. Orvis, The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and the Land Trust have teamed up to create a matching challenge that will quadruple your donation. For example, if you make a $250 donation before the end of June, that will result in $1,000 going directly to the Metolius Preserve Project."

–Perk Perkins, President and Dave Perkins, Executive Vice President, The Orvis Company

Oregon’s Deschutes River is renowned for its redband and steelhead trout. Most avid fans of these species are aware of this federally designated Wild and Scenic River, and have either made a pilgrimage to the Deschutes or put it high on their "wish list" of rivers to visit.

Nearly forgotten is the historic productivity of the Deschutes as a salmon river. While the lower river still produces runs of chinook, construction of the Pelton hydroelectric complex in the 1960s cut off access to the upper basin and led to the demise of the Suttle Lake sockeye salmon run, one of only two historic sockeye runs in Oregon. Where legendary Deschutes trout streams like the Metolius River once teemed with spring chinook and sockeye salmon, now there are none.

The good news is that these legendary fisheries are poised to return to the Upper Deschutes Basin. The Pelton hydroelectric complex is currently undergoing re-licensing with the federal government. Both Portland General Electric and its co-applicant, the Warm Springs Tribes, are strongly committed to restoring fish passage and have committed over $68 million to fish passage at the dams. Given the efforts of PGE and the Tribes, local conservationists are confident that salmon and steelhead will soon move above the Pelton/Round Butte complex and reclaim their former habitat in the Upper Deschutes Basin.

Despite the excitement, it’s clear that restoring passage is only half the battle. Restored passage will do little for salmon and steelhead runs if those runs don’t have quality habitat to return to. To address the habitat issue, the Deschutes Basin Land Trust launched its Back to Home Waters program, a landscape-scale, multiple partner effort to identify, restore and protect the critical habitat.

For obvious reasons, Back to Home Waters begins on the legendary Metolius River. Historically the largest salmon producing sub-basin in the Upper Deschutes, the Metolius is renowned for its pristine condition. With nearly all of the Metolius protected as either federal or tribal land, the Land Trust focused on the last large unprotected tract of habitat, a 1,240 acre forest tract owned by Willamette Industries, containing three miles of Lake Creek. In January 2002, the Land Trust acquired an eighteen-month option to purchase the land just days before Willamette was acquired by its competitor, Weyerhaeuser. Because it doesn’t make sense for Weyerhaeuser to retain Willamette’s Central Oregon timber holdings, Weyerhaeuser is selling those properties. The Metolius Preserve lands are considerably more valuable as a development property than as timber land, so there is little question they will be developed if the Land Trust is unable to exercise its option by the end of 2003.

Dubbed the Metolius Preserve, this 1,240 acre tract is critical to the reintroduction of salmon to the Metolius River. Historically, Lake Creek contained the most prolific spring Chinook salmon spawning habitat of any of the Metolius River’s tributaries. The creek also served as the gateway to Suttle Lake, the spawning and rearing area for one of Oregon’s two historic sockeye salmon runs. With development pressures at record levels, the urgency of this project is hard to overstate.

The Deschutes Basin Land Trust must raise $3 million by the end of 2003 to create the Metolius Preserve. Orvis is joining forces with the Land Trust to acquire the Metolius Preserve and bring a legendary fishery Back to Home Waters. Please join us in supporting this urgent project with your timely donation.

— Brian Harrington, Deschutes Basin Land Trust

How to Help

Please send us your tax-deductible donation by end of 2003. Your donation will be matched three times through the Orvis matching campaign. All the money will go directly to the acquisition of this land. Support the work of our country’s conservation leaders—we are making more and better fisheries every year… for you, your children and your grandchildren. Please send your tax-deductible contributions, made payable to:

Deschutes Basin Land Trust

Metolius Preserve Project

Orvis, Dept CR, PO Box 798

Manchester, VT 05254