Donner and Blitzen River
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PRIME FEEDING TIMES
The Donner and Blitzen River is a river on the eastern Oregon high desert which drains a relatively arid basin, the southern portion of Harney Basin, from roughly 20 to 80 miles (30 to 130 km) south-southeast of Burns including Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Though much of its course is marsh, it offers scenic glaciated canyons, unique ecosystems, and exceptional wild trout fisheries. Named by soldiers of German origin, the Donner und Blitzen River translates as "thunder and lightning" and brings to mind two of Santa Claus's reindeer.
The Donner and Blitzen River arises as an intermittent stream on the lower slopes west of Steens Mountain at the 6,500-foot (2,000 m) level, roughly 80 miles (130 km) south-southeast of Burns and 11 miles (18 km) northwest of Alvord Lake and empties at into Malheur Lake. Numerous nearby springs create its tributaries including South Fork Blitzen River, Little Blitzen River, Big Indian Creek, Little Indian Creek, Fish Creek, Mud Creek, and Ankle Creek. It collects these and runs north or northwest descending rapidly to the plateau floor then turns northward to Malheur Lake which has no outlet. It does not pass through any cities, though it comes within 2 miles (3.2 km) of Frenchglen. In 1988, 72.7 miles (117.0 km) of rivers in its basin were designated Wild and Scenic, and another 14.8 miles (23.8 km) were added in 2000. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) lists seven temperature impairments on the river system. The maximum recorded flow of 4,270 cubic feet per second (121 m3/s) occurred on April 26, 1978, and was extrapolated from a calibrated value of 1,900 cu ft/s (54 m3/s). The minimum recorded flow 4.2 cu ft/s (0.12 m3/s) occurred December 9, 1972, caused by widespread freezing.