Water is Life!
But who gets the water? In its natural state, Doan Creek offered ideal habitat for many species of plants and animals, including steelhead trout and salmon. Water is also life for people. Settlers diverted water from Doan Creek to provide irrigation for farmland. Doan Creek water was channeled into a straight, man-made irrigation "ditch," leaving the original streambed dry. But this wasn't the only stream or river in the area that was altered. Dams and irrigation projects decreased habitat and access to spawning areas for fish. Since the time of the Whitmans, steelhead and salmon have experienced drastic population declines and have been declared threatened or endangered. Water and the adjacent riparian areas are critical to other animals as well, especially in the relatively dry Walla Walla valley.
A plan to restore fish habitat on park grounds started in 1998. As the idea developed upstream water users also got involved. Today, the park, several private landowners, other government agencies, Whitman College, Walla Walla University, along with many volunteer groups, are working together on this project. Eventually there will be 3.1 miles of river habitat for fish and other wildlife. This will be accomplished while still providing enough water to other users.