Bully Creek Reservoir (Malheur)

Reachcode: 17050118002409 | Area: 611.1 acres | Shoreline: 9.0 mi | View on Interactive Map

(From Atlas of Oregon Lakes, Johnson et al. 1985).  Bully Creek Dam and Reservoir are located on Bully Creek in eastern Oregon, about eight miles from the creek's confluence with the Malheur River. There are several stories concerning the origin of the name of this stream, all apparently related to the fact that when a man fell into its waters many years ago, his friends stood around and cried out "Bully! Bully!" The reservoir is a component of the Bureau of Reclamation's Vale Project which furnishes irrigation water to about 35,000 acres of land near the town of Vale. The project also includes Agency Valley Dam and Beulah Reservoir and the Warm Springs Dam and Reservoir. The 121-foot high Bully Creek Dam was built in 1963. When full, the reservoir is about 1000 acres in surface area with an active capacity of nearly 30,000 acre-feet. Primary inflow is from Bully Creek, but excess water from the Malheur River is also diverted into the reservoir through the Vale Main Canal and the Bully Creek Feeder Canal. Water stored in the reservoir is delivered by two laterals, one beginning at the outlet works of the dam and the other at Bully Creek Diversion Dam about a mile downstream from the reservoir. In addition to irrigation storage, there is specific storage space for flood control purposes and it is instrumental in reducing floods along Bully Creek and on the Malheur River below the mouth of Bully Creek.

Bully Creek Reservoir lies in a narrow, curving valley bounded on both sides by steep hills. The drainage basin is, for the most part, a semi-arid rangeland, most of it federal land administered by the Bureau of Land Management. Recreation facilities include a campground, swimming beach, and boat launching and mooring facilities. Anglers have found excellent catches of white crappie, yellow perch, black bass, and rainbow trout in the reservoir, although there is a continuous problem with rough fish. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife treated the whole stream system for rough fish before Bully Creek was filled and restocked with game fish; it was treated again in 1973. Migratory waterfowl also use the reservoir with some ducks remaining to nest.

Bully Creek is classified as eutrophic. The major ion and total phosphorus concentrations are both higher than most other reservoirs in the area. Phytoplankton densities are high; McHugh (1972) reported mostly diatoms in November, with Aphanizomenon present. He speculated that the Aphanizomenon was a remnant of a summer bloom. An early summer nanophytoplankton sample (6/25/82) consisted of algae that occur in any trophic category, and are thus of no indicator value. However, a net phytoplankton sample collected on this date contained Anabaena, Ceratium, and Pediastrum, all of which indicate eutrophic conditions. Even though the reservoir was not stratified in June, a significant depletion of dissolved oxygen was evident. Due to water level fluctuations, macrophytes are not abundant in the reservoir.

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The list below includes results of zebra and quagga mussels surveys conducted by the Center for Lakes and Reservoirs and other agencies. The results "non-detect" and "results pending" indicate that surveys for zebra and quagga mussels were conducted, but none were detected or results are pending. For more details on zebra and quagga mussel monitoring, please visit the Online Mussel Monitoring Map.

Date Status/Species Source
July 18, 2012 non detect Portland State University
Sept. 7, 2010 non detect Oregon Dept of Fish and Wildlife
No plant data available.