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Camp Polk Meadow Preserve

Information about Deschutes Land Trust's Camp Polk Meadow Preserve.
Lupine at Camp Polk Meadow Preserve
Lupine at Camp Polk Meadow Preserve. Photo: Greg Burke.

Get the latest on the Camp Polk Meadow stream restoration! 

Camp Polk Meadow Preserve is a 151 acre meadow near Sisters, OR (see map). In 2000, the Land Trust partnered with Portland General Electric to purchase the property and protect its outstanding fish habitat. In 2011, the Land Trust added another six acres to the meadow called the Pond Addition.

The Preserve contains approximately 1.4 miles of Whychus Creek with wetlands, meadows, aspen groves and ponderosa pine stands. It is home to a variety of plant and wildlife species and is one of Central Oregon’s birding hot spots. Camp Polk Meadow Preserve also has a long and illustrious history as a crossroads for Native Americans, explorers, soldiers and settlers. The Hindman barn on the Preserve is Deschutes County’s oldest structure.

Why it is a conservation priority

Camp Polk Meadow Preserve is a priority project because of the significant portion of Whychus Creek it protects. Historically salmon and steelhead made their way to the streams of the Upper Deschutes basin to spawn and then rear. With the construction of dams on the lower Deschutes in the 1960's fish passage to the upper basin was blocked. Today the relicensing of these dams has provided a once in a lifetime opportunity to restore native fish to their original range. The stretch of Whychus Creek that runs through Camp Polk Meadow was historically the highest quality spawning habitat for steelhead on Whychus Creek. 

What to see

  • Watch for wildlife: Camp Polk Meadow is home to deer, cougar, otters, elk and many species of birds (~150 species observed). See the Preserve’s bird list or help with bird surveys.
    CBCPMWalk
    Exploring Camp Polk Meadow Preserve. Photo: Chip Belden.
  • Learn some history: Camp Polk Meadow has played a key role in Central Oregon’s history for more than 150 years. Learn more in Biography of a Place, Martin Winch's book on the Preserve.
  • Brush up on your plants: Camp Polk Meadow Preserve protects a diverse array of plant families and is home to the rare Peck’s Penstemon. Spring time brings a riot of color to the Preserve, often setting the lower meadow ablaze with purple lupine and native iris.
  • Discover the story of native fish: Whychus Creek that flows through Camp Polk Meadow will one day be home again to salmon and steelhead. The Land Trust is currently implementing a major restoration plan for Whychus Creek in partnership with the Upper Deschutes Watershed Council. Learn more about the restoration or watch a video on the project.

Visiting Camp Polk Meadow Preserve

Camp Polk Meadow Preserve is open to visitor access year-round. From the Preserve parking area there is an interpretative trail that can be explored for excellent birding, walking or viewing the Hindman Barn. The lower meadow of the Preserve can be visited on a guided tour. Please check our event page for upcoming Camp Polk Meadow Preserve tours.

Restoration and Education activities

Whychus Creek
Whychus Creek at Camp Polk Meadow Preserve. Photo: Byron Dudley.

From replacing fencing with wildlife-friendly options, to weed mapping and removal, to willow planting and wildlife surveys, much has been done at Camp Polk Meadow to restore and enhance the property. Though many restoration efforts are ongoing at the Preserve, a major focus is the restoration of Whychus Creek. We are working with the Upper Deschutes Watershed Council and the Deschutes National Forest to implement a restoration plan which will enhance water quality and quantity for the eventual reintroduction of salmon and steelhead. Visit our Whychus restoration page for more information.

Finally, the Land Trust is pleased to partner with several education groups including: Wolftree, OSU-Cascades, and the University of Oregon to provide an outdoor research area for local students.

Camp Polk Meadow Preserve Map

The map below shows the location of Camp Polk Meadow Preserve. 

Camp Polk Meadow map

 
 

 


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