Photo: Land Trust.

Ochoco Preserve Takes Shape

Apr 06, 2021 by Sarah Mowry
We’ve been working on developing conceptual designs for restoration and community access at Ochoco Preserve. Check out this sneak peek into the future of the Preserve.

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The Land Trust's long-term vision for Ochoco Preserve in Prineville is starting to take shape! We’ve been working in the background for the last couple of years to develop conceptual designs for restoration and community access at the Preserve. As those designs are getting closer to fruition, we wanted to give you a sneak peek into the future.

Historically, much of Ochoco Preserve consisted of wetlands along the Crooked River. The property was converted to farmland in the mid-1900s, but high groundwater levels and difficult topography (low spots, stream channels, and an old Crooked River channel) made it challenging to farm. When the Land Trust conserved the property in 2017 one of our goals was to work to restore the Preserve’s extraordinary natural resources. Both Ochoco Creek and McKay Creek meet the Crooked River at Ochoco Preserve, creating the opportunity for incredibly rich habitat for fish and wildlife.

Our restoration efforts will center around returning many of the historic natural processes that the Crooked River, Ochoco Creek, and McKay Creek would have had. To do that we need to give these streams a boost by changing where and how they currently flow at the Preserve. This means giving them the space to meander and adding more side channels and natural structures to improve habitat for fish and wildlife. And it means creating floodplain and wetland habitat so these waterways can store, and then release, cleaner, cooler water back into the system.

Ochoco Preserve also has significant potential for community connections. One of our goals is to develop educational sites and trails to share the story of the land and its amazing natural resources. We’re working with numerous community partners, including the City of Prineville, Crook County Parks and Recreation, and Crook County School District to ensure access, trail connections, and educational options that are robust and inclusive.

We’ll spend the remainder of 2021 completing designs, raising funds, and preparing for our first phase of implementation which will include removing all the structures from the property by early 2022. We look forward to sharing more details with you soon!

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