On the cold, blustery morning of February 28th, 2012, Whychus Creek returned to Camp Polk Meadow for the first time in 47 years. Restoration crews redirected the full flow of the creek into its historic path through the meadow, marking a major step in the return of salmon and steelhead to the upper Deschutes Basin.
Following more than a decade of planning and preparation, bulldozers gathered at the intersection of the old and newly restored channels and dumped 10,000 cubic yards of rocks, trees, and dirt into Whychus Creek. The flow was instantly redirected into the restored channel. At the same time, biologists and teams of volunteers with buckets helped rescue all the fish left in the blocked channel and moved to their home in the new Whychus Creek.
"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, but we couldn't have done it without our many partners, funders and volunteers. Together, we've created a slow, meandering new stream channel that can provide essential spawning and rearing habitat for the historic return of salmon and steelhead," said Brad Chalfant, the Land Trust's executive director.
The Whychus Creek restoration at Camp Polk Meadow Preserve is a joint effort between the Deschutes Land Trust, the Upper Deschutes Watershed Council and the Deschutes National Forest. Primary funders of the project include: Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, Pelton Round Butte Fund (Portland General Electric & the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs), Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Forest Foundation, Bella Vista Foundation, Laird Norton Family Foundation, Deschutes River Conservancy, Freshwater Trust, The Nature Conservancy and East Cascade Audubon Society.
Many thanks and congratulations to all who have played a role in the restoration of Whychus Creek through Camp Polk Meadow Preserve. It is truly a moment to celebrate.
Check out the time-lapse videos from the day or watch a photo slideshow below!