New websites focus on water basin restoration in central, southeastern Oregon


CORVALLIS, Ore. – Some of Oregon’s most spectacular landscapes and diverse natural habitats are on the east side of the Cascades – locations that are also at the heart of complex political and economic discussions around restoration and research.

Restoration work, conservation activities, and research taking place in the Deschutes Basin and the Closed Lakes Basin are now featured on two websites, the Deschutes Basin Explorer and the Lakes Basin Explorer. These are the first east-of-the-Cascades basin portals within the Oregon Explorer series.

Oregon Explorer, a natural resources digital library, is a collaborative effort between Oregon State University Libraries and the Oregon University System's Institute for Natural Resources.

The Deschutes Basin Explorer (http://oregonexplorer.info/deschutes/) highlights the extensive restoration work being done in the Deschutes River watershed and on salmon and steelhead reintroduction. It is intended to help local citizens and policymakers make better decisions about natural resources, including watersheds and fish populations, in Oregon’s Deschutes Basin.

The Lakes Basin Explorer’s (http://oregonexplorer.info/lakes/) story on the Steens Mountain and the controversy that surrounds protection of its diverse ecosystems frames the issues facing environmentalists, scientists, ranchers and other stakeholders. The site provides information to build awareness about natural resource management issues in Oregon’s Lakes Basin.

The Oregon Watershed Restoration Tool is featured on both sites and allow users to generate information about financial investments in watershed restoration throughout Oregon and the outcomes of these investments, such as miles of streamside area planted to help shade streams or create habitat, number of barriers (e.g., culverts) removed so that native fish have access to additional stream habitat, and other restoration results.

Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB) funding supported development of the sites. OWEB also funded improvements to Oregon Explorer and updating of its tools, content, and data. Extensive input from local partners, such as the Upper Deschutes Watershed Council, the Deschutes River Conservancy, The Trust for Public Land, Harney County Watershed Council, Steens Mountain Advisory Council, and the Bureau of Land Management’s Burns District help ensure the sites are relevant, informative, and up-to-date.  The efforts of these and other groups, agency partners and concerned local citizens are detailed on the new sites.

The Oregon Explorer site is intended to be the premier resource for decision-makers, researchers, educators and interested citizens who want to quickly find information about Oregon's natural resources.  Other watershed basin portals include the North Coast, Willamette, and Umpqua Basin Explorers.

Other Oregon Explorer websites focus on Oregon’s land use, wildlife, wildfire risk, and natural hazards.