The Deschutes Land Trust and Upper Deschutes Watershed Council have launched a massive stream restoration project at the Land Trust's Whychus Canyon Preserve. Restoration will begin on the northernmost mile of Whychus Creek at the Preserve and will improve habitat in and around the creek for fish and wildlife.
More than a mile of Whychus Creek will be completely transformed as part of the first phase of a six-mile stream restoration project.
Large earth-moving equipment will remove berms that are holding the stream in its current straight alignment and then remove soil in places to promote the free movement of water across its historic floodplain. Large woody debris (like whole trees) will be added to create complex habitat for fish and wildlife. Then, this fall, more than 60,000 native trees, shrubs, wildflowers and grasses will be planted and seeded to provide stream shade, bank and floodplain stability, and habitat for wildlife.
"It's incredible to see a project in which so many have worked patiently for so many years finally come to fruition. The Land Trust has worked toward this day for over 15 years, by first acquiring and protecting the property, and now by being able to realize our long-term vision for Whychus Canyon Preserve. We couldn't have done it without our many partners, funders and volunteers. We look forward to seeing wildlife return to the Preserve in abundance," said Deschutes Land Trust Executive Director Brad Chalfant.
"Our long-term goal is to restore each of the 18 miles of Whychus Creek that was straightened in the 1960s so we can support health fish and wildlife in the area," explained Ryan Houston, the Upper Deschutes Watershed Council's executive director. "This outstanding project brings us one important step closer and illustrates how much can be accomplished when organizations, agencies, landowners and funders all put their energy into making positive change."
The restoration project was designed by a team of hydrologists and biologists from the Deschutes National Forest working in close coordination with private consultants and staff from the Watershed Council and Deschutes Land Trust. The implementation work in 2016 is part of a larger six-mile restoration project on Whychus Creek. Phase I, this initial work on 1.5 miles of Whychus Creek at Whychus Canyon Preserve, will occur this summer and run through the fall. Then, the project area will be left alone to rest, recover, and naturally evolve and grow. Phase II, which includes the portion of Whychus Creek upstream of Phase I, is planned for 2017 or 2018.
Primary funders of the project include: Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, Pelton Round Butte Fund (Portland General Electric & the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs), Deschutes National Forest, Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Laird Norton Family Foundation, Bonneville Environmental Foundation and East Cascade Audubon Society.
The Deschutes Land Trust conserves land for wildlife, scenic views, and local communities. As Central Oregon's only nationally accredited and locally based land trust, the Deschutes Land Trust has protected more than 8,750 acres since 1995.
For more information on Deschutes Land Trust, call 541-330-0017 or visit www.deschuteslandtrust.org. For more information on the Watershed Council, call 541-382-6103 or visit www.restorethedeschutes.org.
The Nugget NewspaperAugust 09, 2016