Checking in on the Whychus Canyon Preserve restoration

Jun 08, 2017
It’s been nearly a year since work began on restoring Whychus Creek and its surrounding meadows at Whychus Canyon Preserve. How is the restoration doing after our long winter and with the arrival of spring?

It’s been nearly a year since work began on restoring Whychus Creek and its surrounding meadows at Whychus Canyon Preserve. How is the restoration doing after our long winter and with the arrival of spring? In short: very well!

  • A new lupine grows at Whychus Canyon Preserve. Photo: Land Trust.
    A new lupine grows at Whychus Canyon Preserve. Photo: Land Trust.
    New plants are flourishing! The 60,000 native trees, shrubs, grasses and wildflowers that were diligently planted by volunteers and paid crews last fall are now coming up everywhere. There were some plants that were scoured out during the winter when the creek was flowing higher, but we spent time this spring putting many of those little plant plugs back into place. Crews were also on hand this spring installing cages around clusters of new plants to help keep the deer away. We also plan to plant 4,700 more plants this fall. All these efforts should help with long-term survivorship.

    We have been especially pleased to see so many of the wildflowers blooming this spring! We even discovered some Peck’s penstemon in the restored meadow! This rare penstemon is only found in the Sisters area and was not planted as part of the restoration. Instead, it arrived all on its own which is a good sign that we are providing the kind of habitat it needs to survive.


  • Whychus Creek is making itself at home. The restored creek is beginning to make itself at home in Whychus Canyon Preserve. No longer confined to one channel at the edge of the meadow, it now meanders freely with multiple channels that provide much greater habitat diversity. Scientists working on the project have been pleased to see both fast and slow water habitat and shallow and deep-water habitat. Since the water can now spread out and slow down, new gravels and cobbles have been deposited improving the creekbed for fish to spawn and macroinvertebrates (water bugs!) to thrive. The fine sediment that was once in the meadow is also depositing, providing a great place for new plants to grow!

    Whychus Creek at Whychus Canyon Preserve. Photo: Scott Nelson.
    Whychus Creek at Whychus Canyon Preserve. Photo: Scott Nelson.


  • An otter swims in Whychus Creek. Photo: Jake Schas.
    An otter swims in Whychus Creek. Photo: Jake Schas.
    Wildlife are returning. Two redband trout nests (redds) were found in the restored creek area during spring 2017 surveys. Though other formal wildlife surveys have not been completed, anecdotal reports show an abundance of wildlife using the meadow. Tiny Chinook fry have been spotted in the creek channel. Otters have been seen cavorting about. Golden and bald eagles and other raptors have been soaring above. Numerous species of songbirds are nesting and foraging. The swallowtail butterflies have been swarming en masse (it’s a banner swallowtail year)! And finally, even a migrating monarch butterfly was spotted flitting about the restored creek! We hope it was looking for the new milkweed we planted for it!

Going forward we will be monitoring many aspects of the restoration to see how it progressed this summer and in the next few years. All this will data will feed into the next phase of restoration which is expected to start in 2019. We’ll be sure to keep you posted.


Learn more about the restoration: