On June 18th, the Deschutes Land Trust officially opened Whychus Canyon Preserve to the public with a dedication ceremony thanking the many contributors who made the purchase of the property possible. While the weeks leading up to the dedication were hectic around the office and in the field, when the day came, staff, myself included, were ready and excited to welcome everyone to our newest Community Preserve.
The morning started early, with staff carpooling from our downtown Bend office at 7:15 a.m. I took the Jeep and made the rounds picking up coffee from Strictly Organic, and baked goods from Great Harvest Bread Company, Richard's Donuts and Pastries, Sparrow Bakery and Whole Foods Market. (Thankfully, we had wonderful volunteers picking up food from Sisters Bakery, or that would have been a really early morning!) We all convened at the Preserve, unloaded our cars and begin the morning's set up. With all hands on deck, the tents from REI and food tables were quickly set up, chairs were put out and staff made their way to meet volunteers and guests arriving on the shuttles. Places everyone!
Behind the scenes things seemed to run pretty smoothly. Shuttles were bringing attendees to the junction of Goodrich Rd. where they then walked in about 1/3 of a mile to the dedication site. Some hardy souls walked from the parking area along Goodrich Rd., and even a few of the neighbors joined us! At 10:15 a.m. Brad Chalfant began the actual dedication ceremony. After a few remarks and thank yous (peppered with adrenaline-rush inducing gunshots from a neighbor), Bobby Brunoe, a member of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, took the mike to explain the significance of Whychus Creek and the fish and wildlife in and along it, to his people. It was moving story and underscored the importance of our work to conserve and restore land for fish and wildlife habitat, as well as local communities. Win Francis, the Whychus Campaign Co-Chair, finished the ceremony with this amusing wedding reading.
Once the official ceremony was over, attendees were able to participate in one of several tours offered to better explore the Preserve. Tours included the Extreme Hike, the Canyon View Walk, the Boulders Hike, a Wildflower Walk, a Santiam Wagon Road Walk, the Whychus Creek Fish Hike, and even a Kids' Walk. We had something for everyone! I went along as the sweeper (the last person in the group who makes sure everyone returns safely) for the Whychus Creek Fish Hike with Rod Bonacker and his wife, Maret Pajutee. Both Rod and Maret have been long time supporters and volunteers for the Land Trust and Rod is certainly passionate about fish! We hiked our group of 30+ down into the canyon so we could have a close look at Whychus Creek. From there, we listened to Rod and Maret talk about the life cycle of some of the iconic fish in this region and all the work being done to bring back the historic runs of steelhead in Whychus Creek. Apparently, the time and money being invested in Whychus Creek for these fish is starting to pay off, which is something for all of us to be excited about.
After a couple of stops along the creek and more Q & A time, we began the climb out of the canyon and back to the sagebrush, juniper and ponderosa pine on the rim. As we hiked up, there were more breaks to catch our breath while looking at the variety of yellow and red wildflowers dotting the canyon walls. We saw wallflower, several varieties of buckwheat, stonecrop, desert parsley, and arrow-leaf balsamroot. It was a good day for yellow flowers! Once we reached the rim, more donuts and pastries awaited, as attendees snacked and chatted before taking the shuttle back to their cars.
We heard very positive feedback on the event from several people and it just goes to show that Whychus Canyon Preserve is truly a wonderful place to visit. You can go out on your own, as driving directions are here on our website and maps are available at the kiosk, or join us for a guided tour of the property. Either way, we hope you'll go out and enjoy Whychus Canyon Preserve!