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Metolius Preserve

About the Deschutes Land Trust's Metolius Preserve.
Ponderosa pine. Photo: Bob Woodward.

The Land Trust acquired and protected the 1,240 acre Metolius Preserve in 2003. This primarily forested property located near Camp Sherman, OR (see map) supports mature ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, and western larch, as well as a rich diversity of other plant species. Three miles of Lake Creek, an important tributary to the Metolius River, flow through the property, contributing to the rich habitat found on the Preserve. The property is home to mule and black-tailed deer, black bear, cougar, bobcat, badger, beaver, otter, and a number of forest-dependent bird species. It also provides critical winter range for a herd of Roosevelt Elk.

Why it is a conservation priority

The Metolius Preserve protects important fish and wildlife habitat while protecting and promoting old-growth ponderosa pine forest conditions. Lake Creek currently provides spawning habitat for native redband trout and nesting habitat for a wide range of neotropical songbirds. Lake Creek is also an important part of current efforts to reintroduce spring chinook and sockeye salmon to the upper Deschutes Basin. Historically, a significant proportion of Metolius River spring chinook spawned in Lake Creek, and one of Oregon’s two native sockeye salmon runs migrated through Lake Creek to Suttle Lake. By protecting the Metolius Preserve, the Land Trust is helping to ensure a successful reintroduction of salmon in the upper Deschutes Basin.

What to see

  • Watch for wildlife: Numerous birds inhabit the Preserve (more than 80 species have been identified) including the white-headed woodpecker, a sensitive species. Large mammals such as elk, deer, black bears, cougars, bobcats, badgers, beavers, otters also make their home here as do smaller mammals such as the northern flying squirrel, voles, and shrews. See the Preserve's Bird List or help with bird surveys.
  • Discover the story of native fish: Lake Creek, which runs
    Chinook fry about to be released at the Metolius Preserve. (Jay Mather)
    through the Preserve, provides habitat for native redband trout and will soon provide habitat for spring Chinook salmon and a migratory route to Suttle Lake for sockeye salmon.
  • Identify native plants: The Metolius Preserve protects a diverse array of plants including the rare Peck’s penstemon.  Follow the self-guided Becky Johnson Interpretive Nature Trail or join a Land Trust plant tour to learn the names of the various native plants that flourish on the Preserve such as snowberry, ocean spray, nutka rose, incense cedar, and the seasonally colorful western larch and vine maple.

Visiting Metolius Preserve

Members enjoy a hike at the Metolius Preserve. Photo: Bob Woodward.

The Metolius Preserve is open year-round,  with limited access in the winter months due to snowfall. Visitors can take a self-guided tour on the 0.6 mile Becky Johnson Nature Trail or join us for a more extensive guided nature walk.  Please check our event page for upcoming Metolius Preserve tours.

There are also more than 10 miles of trails (see the trail map) that allow visitors to enjoy parts of the property on foot or bike. The Lake Creek Trail (see trail map) travels from Camp Sherman to Suttle Lake via the Metolius Preserve. The Lake Creek Trail ties into the Metolius Windigo trail for endless hiking opportunities.

Restoration and Education Activities

Restoration efforts on the Metolius Preserve range from stream work to invasive weed eradication and forest management activities. Learn more:

The Lightfoot mows underbrush while helping thin the Metolius Preserve. Photo: Land Trust.

Forest Restoration: The Land Trust contracts with Darin Stringer of Pacific Stewardship to help manage the forests of the Metolius Preserve. Our forestry efforts have been focused on promoting old-growth ponderosa pine forest conditions which provide important habitat for white-headed woodpeckers and other wildlife. Restoration activities include forest thinning, prescribed burns, road closures, and re-vegetation of closed areas. Learn more.




Stream Restoration: In 2008, the Land Trust worked with the Upper Deschutes Watershed Council to remove a large culvert on Lake Creek to improve fish habitat.

Before: An old road once crossed Lake Creek via a large culvert. Here the excavator begins to remove the culvert. Culvert Removal 1

After: The road and culvert were removed. Native vegetation was planted and the streambanks restored. Culvert removal area 2009

Education: The Metolius Preserve also provides an ideal spot for education and research. Whether we take local students on a nature hike or work with our partner education groups such as Wolftree, OSU-Cascades, and the University of Oregon, students can get a little dirt under their fingernails while learning about their local natural areas.

Metolius Preserve Maps

The maps below shows the location of the Metolius Preserve.  View the trail map for the Metolius Preserve or the Lake Creek Trail map or download a georeferenced map for use in mapping apps.

Metolius Preserve map














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