As part of a five-year, self funded, solo project, Bend Oregon photographer Richard Scott Nelson presents the story of the Deschutes River, encompassing the history, science and beauty of a river born 5 million years ago when the volcanic peaks of the Cascade Mountains were born and the spring-fed Deschutes River began it's journey North to the Columbia River.
The Deschutes River is the most constant flowing spring-fed river in the United States and the focus of the story, as told by noted experts, is how the snowmelt from the volcanoes of the High Cascades feeds the vast underground storage system that releases cold, clear water day after day into a spring-fed river system.
Known to French trappers as the 'Rivière des Chutes' and to explorer Capt. John C. Fremont as the 'Fall River', by the 20th century it was known simply as the Deschutes River.
The film explores competing irrigation and fishery interests and in particular looks at a 23 mile stretch of the upper Deschutes just below Wickiup Dam where extreme low water flows in Winter, mandated by the Bureau of Reclamation to fill the Wickiup reservoir, damages a fishery that's been here since time immemorial. Environmentalists and irrigators are still searching for a compromise and solution to differing interests.
In version II, the story is expanded with 13 minutes of new scenes that explore the destruction of habitat and wetlands of the threatened Oregon Spotted Frog. The 23 miles of river below the Wickiup Dam, a designated 'Wild and Scenic' waterway, is where the fishery has been decimated by the of water rights of Central Oregon irrigation districts, much to the dismay of the US Forest Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.