Photo: Kris Kristovich.

Four Interesting and Cool Things about Ochoco Preserve

Apr 04, 2018 by Jana Hemphill
The Land Trust is excited to share our newest Preservce: Ochoco Preserve! Find out some of the interesting and cool things about the Land Trust's first preserve along the lower Crooked River.

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The Land Trust's newest Preserve, Ochoco Preserve, is located along the Crooked River near Prineville. Here are four interesting and cool things about Ochoco Preserve:


  1. Historic Oxbows: The Crooked River got its name because of the historic, curvy path of the river. These curves are also called oxbows, named after the similar shape of a collar on an ox yoke. Over the past century, humans have straightened the Crooked River, but there are still signs on the land of these historic oxbows. A couple old oxbows can be seen at Ochoco Preserve, particularly in satellite images. In fact, Ochoco Creek shifted from its former location and now uses a historic oxbow of the river to meet up with the Crooked River.


  1. McKay Creek at Ochoco Preserve. Photo: Land Trust.
    McKay Creek at Ochoco Preserve. Photo: Land Trust.
    Confluences of Ochoco Creek and McKay Creek: Ochoco Preserve contains the confluences of both Ochoco Creek and McKay Creek with the Crooked River. They are the two primary tributaries of the lower Crooked River. Ochoco Creek starts in the Ochoco mountains and runs 49 miles long. McKay Creek also starts in the Ochoco mountains, then goes through Demaris Ranch (which the Land Trust is working to protect), before arriving at Ochoco Preserve and the Crooked River, 38 miles in total.


  1. Fantastic Bird Habitat: The newly created Crooked River Wetlands Complex is across the Crooked River from Ochoco Preserve and it’s already proving to be a Central Oregon birding hotspot. Birds are taking advantage of the wetlands during spring migration; recently, Tundra swans were spotted. The Land Trust hopes to start doing bird surveys at Ochoco Preserve and learning more about the different types of birds that call this spot home (or consider it a nice hotel on their migration path!).


  1. Fish Spawning Grounds: Ochoco Preserve is considered one of the highest value fisheries properties on the Crooked River. Historically, Ochoco and McKay Creeks provided important fish spawning habitat for steelhead and Chinook. There are also redband trout that call these creeks home.


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