Copyright 2018. Deschutes River Film. All rights reserved.

Rivière des Chutes

A Five Million Year Journey to the Columbia River

​Known as the Fall River when John C. Fremont explored the region 1843, as this detail from his map shows, and named not for the many falls on the river but for Celilo Falls which are located near where it enters the Columbia River. French trappers in the early 1800's referred to it as the Rivière des Chutes.  

Historically, Native Americans called it Towarnehiooks and in 1805 Lewis and Clark briefly named it Clarks River.

A Synopsis of the film


The film is a culmination of forty years spent documenting the environment and a visual celebration of the Deschutes River and the larger Deschutes Basin including the Fall, Metolius, Little Deschutes, Spring, Crooked and Metolius rivers, plus Tumalo, Bridge, Jack, Canyon, Roaring and Whychus creeks.


The objective of the film is to produce an educational and emotional, high definition, digital film of OPB, Discovery Channel or Bend Film Festival quality, and to make it available to every interested group in the area with a desire to educate and entertain the public with a compelling story about the Deschutes Basin.


The Deschutes River is a gem as one of the most consistent and constant flowing rivers of the world and the vast volume of the Cascades aquifer lies beneath the 5 million year old volcanoes, the spring water flowing today melted an average of 50 years ago or beyond. 


High in the Cascades, the film explores Broken Top and the Three Sisters, Green Lakes, Moraine, Sparks, Devils, Lava, Little Lava, and Cultus Lakes plus Wickiup and Crane Prairie Reservoirs


Of particular interest are Fall Creek, Devils Creek, Satan Creek and Soda Creek that feed Sparks Lake, a lake with no visible out-flow but whose contents slowly drain into the porous rock below and emerge miles later and a thousand feet lower in the Lava Lakes and most noticeably, in the Blue Pool not far from the Cascades Lake Highway as the source of the Deschutes River.


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 that eventually flows North to the Columbia River and on to the Pacific Ocean.


The film also explores springs in the basin that burst forth with thousands of cubic feet per second of water from what has been called an underground sea of fresh water in an aquifer that is millions of years old.


The restoration work in Whychus Creek is an important element in the study of the river system and the film follows it North to the confluence with the Deschutes River near Crooked River Ranch.


Also discussed in the documentary is the plan to create sustainable fish passage and the re-introduction of salmon and steelhead to the Basin through a joint effort of Federal and State agencies, PGE and the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs.


In the old West it was said that, “whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting”. With this in mind, the film contains interviews with individuals with competing interests who, unlike in other watersheds in Oregon and the West, are sitting down together and discussing the challenges that face them.  We learn how they are discovering the solutions necessary to restore habitat and maintain water flows that sustain abundant fisheries while respecting and honoring the century-old water rights of farmers and ranchers.


The story is told documentary style in interviews with key players in the Basin including:


        Gordon Grant, PhD - OSU, USFS

        Ryan Houston – Upper Deschutes Watershed Council

        Brad Chalfant – Deschutes Land Trust

        Bob Main – Former Deschutes Basin Watermaster

        Tod Heisler - Deschutes River Conservancy

        Matt Shinderman, PhD – Oregon State University

        Kyle Gorman – Oregon Water Resources Dept.

        Brett Hodgson - Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife

​        Richard Macy - Jefferson County Farmer

        Jennifer O'Reilly - US Fish and Wildlife

        Jason Gritzner - US Forest Service

        Bobby Bruno – Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs

        Bruce Bischof - Author, Flyfisher