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Pacific Northwest Research Station

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News Releases: 2003

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Book Traces the History and Mystery of the Deschutes River

USDA Forest Service
Pacific Northwest Research Station

Portland, OR: August 25, 2003


Source: Gordon Grant, (541) 750-7328
Media assistance: Sherri Richardson-Dodge, (503) 808-2137

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 diverse topics covered in the 9 papers should be of interest to others. “One paper in the book examines the origin of rapids on the Deschutes,” Grant says, “which should appeal to the many thousands of white-water enthusiasts who boat the river every summer. Another paper explores why the fish are where they are, which should appeal to fishermen.” An entire section is devoted to the effects of dams on the Deschutes and other rivers, which should be of interest to policymakers, resource specialists, and environmental and industry groups involved with dam issues.

Contact AGU customer service to order the book at (800) 966-2481 or

Gordon Grant, a research hydrologist with the Pacific Northwest Research Station, has been studying rivers for nearly 20 years. Before that, his interest in fluvial processes was sparked by a decade-long career as a white-water river guide.

US Forest Service - Pacific Northwest Research Station
Last Modified: Monday,01August2016 at10:13:32CDT

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