Book traces the history and mystery of the Deschutes River

PORTLAND, Ore. August 25, 2003. As discussions about river management and use continue among policymakers, environmentalists, and recreationists, a new book is released that looks at one of the stranger rivers on the planet: Oregon's Deschutes River.

In the book, "A Peculiar River: Geology, Geomorphology, and Hydrology of the Deschutes River, Oregon," (American Geophysical Union [AGU] 2003), research hydrologist Gordon Grant, who co-edited the book along the Jim O'Connor of the US Geological Survey, says the book should appeal beyond scientists to a broader readership of recreationists, naturalists, fishermen, and natural resource managers, who want to understand how rivers work.

"We wanted to weave together a set of individual studies that look at various aspects of the Deschutes River, including the geology, geological history of floods, hydrology, fisheries, and the effects of dams on this river into a coherent picture of how the river behaves and responds to human interventions like dams," says Grant.

Grant explains that the Deschutes River possesses several unique characteristics:

  • It has the most constant streamflow of any river of its size in the United States and behaves like a large, spring-fed creek.
  • It possesses one of the lowest sediment yields of any river in the world in its upper reaches.
  • The modern flow regime, both before and after dam construction, is largely ineffective in changing the river's form or character.
  • At the same time, the river has experienced truly cataclysmic floods in the past by almost every known mechanism for generating floods; these floods have left a lasting legacy of rapids, islands, and bars that define much of the character of the modern river.
  • The distribution of fish found in the river is closely tied to its geological setting.

Although the book is primarily a scientific monograph, published as part of AGU's Water Science and Application series, the dive

Contact: Sherri Richardson-Dodge
USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station

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