Land Trust and partners receive Department of State Lands Award

Apr 09, 2013
The 2012 Stream Project Award was given by the State Land Board to recognize the restoration of Whychus Creek at the Land Trust’s Camp Polk Meadow Preserve.

Today, the Deschutes Land Trust and its restoration partners received the 2012 Stream Project Award presented by the State Land Board, which includes Governor John Kitzhaber, Secretary of State Kate Brown and State Treasurer Ted Wheeler. The award went to the Land Trust, the Upper Deschutes Watershed Council, the Deschutes National Forest, and Aequinox for their work restoring Whychus Creek at the Deschutes Land Trust’s Camp Polk Meadow Preserve.

A mile and half of Whychus Creek flows through the Land Trust’s 151 acre Camp Polk Meadow Preserve outside of Sisters, OR. The creek was channelized in the 1960s resulting in habitat loss for fish and other wildlife. The Land Trust partnered with the Upper Deschutes Watershed Council and Deschutes National Forest on a multi-year restoration effort that returned Whychus Creek to its meandering path through Camp Polk Meadow Preserve.

“The Land Trust is fortunate to have such great conservation partners in the Watershed Council, Deschutes National Forest and the local community. The work at Camp Polk Meadow is truly a community effort that began with our acquisition 16 years ago, continued with countless hours of volunteer stewardship, and culminated in this remarkable collaborative restoration project. The end result is a much healthier Whychus Creek for fish and wildlife,” said the Land Trust’s executive director Brad Chalfant.

The restoration of Whychus Creek through Camp Polk Meadow Preserve is a key component in the long-term community-based effort to restore habitat for the historic reintroduction of salmon and steelhead to the upper Deschutes Basin. Goals of the Camp Polk Meadow project include restoring stream and wetland habitat for native fish and other wildlife. Work began in 1997 when the Land Trust, with funding from Portland General Electric, began negotiating to purchase the then subdivided meadow. Acquired in 2000, floodplain restoration began in earnest in 2009 when contractors carved a restored, meandering channel through the meadow. Volunteers and crews then planted 180,000 sedges, willows, dogwoods, and other native plants in subsequent years. Finally in 2012, the Land Trust returned the full flow of Whychus Creek to its meandering path through the meadow for the first time in 40 years. To learn more about the restoration or view video footage, please visit our restoration webpage.

Funders of the Whychus Creek restoration project included the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, Pelton Round Butte Fund (Portland General Electric & the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation), Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Forest Foundation, Bella Vista Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, East Cascades Audubon Society, and Deschutes River Conservancy.

The State Land Board Awards were established in 2004 to recognize worthy projects and efforts that promote responsible, sustainable stewardship of state resources or benefit Department of State Lands-related programs.