Program Location
This project is located in Crook County. See more projects in Crook County.
Natural Habitats Crook

Water Flows in Cattle Country

Crook County is cattle country, home to thousands of acres of public and private grazing land. McKay Creek flows 37 miles across this beautiful landscape, from its headwaters in the Ochoco National Forest down to where it meets the Crooked River. It winds through both public and private lands, providing important irrigation for many of the area’s landowners. It’s also home to native fish and other aquatic life. A $500,000 grant funded by the Oregon Lottery is helping make sure this important resource sticks around.

Each year, irrigation season puts a strain on McKay Creek. Lowered water levels make it difficult for fish to move freely and endangers other aquatic life. It’s also tough on farmers and ranchers, who don’t have a reliable water source for cattle and irrigation.

With plenty of water available up the road at the Prineville Reservoir, landowners are ready to swap their water rights from McKay Creek to the reservoir. The project is known as the McKay Creek Water Right Switch and the Lottery-funded grant is helping provide the necessary infrastructure to make it happen. By the end of 2020, landowners will have the water they need from the Prineville Reservoir and native fish will have the run of McKay Creek.

It’s an innovative Oregon solution that takes care of the local economy and wildlife. When you play Lottery games, you’re helping fund projects that do good things like this all over our state.

More About Natural Habitats
Chinook and Coho Salmon swimming in river
water-irrigation
The project is set up so that we’re able to fund about $20 million worth of improvements and infrastructure through grants alone.
— Bruce Scanlon, District Manager, Ochoco Irrigation District

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