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Water Impoundment and Crab Creek

Crab Creek is an ecological reserve that includes 18 miles of riparian and wetland habitats that is home to a spawning population of threatened Chinook salmon and endangered summer-run steelhead. Peregrine and Prairie falcons, great Horned owls, Bald and Golden Eagles, Bobcats, Cougar, and otters are some of the other species that live within the flood zone of the proposed dam.

Crab Creek’s cultural, recreational and environmental value is extraordinary. Native Americans have used Crab Creek for thousands of years and their camps are located through the proposed flood area. These sites may provide further insight into their culture and lifestyles.

Crab Creek provides for recreational use by birders, fishers and hunters. Activities include:

  • Quality fishing is found in Crab Creek, Nunnally, Mary and Lenice Lakes
  • Crab Creek is a major resting and feeding area for Sandhill cranes each fall and spring.  Viewers from throughout the Northwest attend the Othello Sandhill Crane Festival each March.  Flooding of the valley would eliminate these fall and spring migration stopovers
  • Upland bird hunting for quail, pheasant, and chukars
  • Waterfowl hunting for ducks and geese
  • Mule deer hunting

Another successful hunt at Crab Creek

Recently, the Washington  State Department of Ecology and the US Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) issued a report that identifies Lower Crab Creek, near Vantage, as the preferred location to create a 240 foot high, 1.5 mile long dam to store additional water for providing additional irrigation water.  The proposed dam would cost billions of dollars and flood over 19,000 acres of public wildlife lands, including 5,000 acres of wetlands, as well as 8,600 acres of private farmland.

The primary purpose of the proposed dam is to provide additional water for new irrigation projects such as the Odessa Subarea, where the USBR and Washington State Department of Ecology wish to replace depleted groundwater with USBR Project surface water.  Providing irrigation water to this area would expand the amount of irrigated land dependant on Columbia River water by up to 140,000 acres.  While a reliable cost estimate to complete the project has not been performed, the USBR estimates the costs may exceed $45,000 per acre.

See map below for potentially impacted area

For more information about Water Impoundment and Crab Creek, click HERE.



Sandhill Crane Festival at Crab Creek - Photo by John Osborn


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