Water Enough For All
Because the Whitmans were the earliest agricultural users of water in the area, Whitman Mission National Historic Site, along with adjacent private property owners, holds primary water rights to the water in Doan Creek. But the water in the spring-fed creek is potentially over allocated. One major challenge of the Doan Creek Restoration Project is to ensure that all of the water rights holders in the area receive their allotment of flow even as the old Doan Creek channel is restored. The park staff and county water-master make sure a sufficient amount of water always flows through the irrigation ditch to accommodate the needs of surrounding farmers and to preserve the historical accuracy of Marcus and Narcissa Whitman’s irrigation channel.
In order to do more with the water available, in 2008, the park installed a pump which will "recycle" the water in Doan Creek. First water will flow through the new creek bed to the confluence with Mill Creek, providing habitat for fish and wildlife. Then this same water will be pumped uphill into a remaining section of the diverted Doan Creek irrigation ditch. From there flowing into the park's pond, then into the park's historic irrigation ditch, and then on to downstream users.
Did You Know?
Great Basin Wild Rye Grass is part of the natural landscape at Whitman Mission. The name Waiilatpu, meaning place of rye grass, was used by the people to name the mission site.