Photo: Land Trust.

Laying the groundwork for the Ochoco Preserve restoration

Oct 10, 2021 by Sarah Mowry
The Land Trust's Ochoco Preserve has been a hive of activity of late! Read on to learn more about the work we've been doing to prepare for restoration at the Preserve.

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The Land Trust's Ochoco Preserve has been a hive of activity of late! Construction crews were on site in September and October helping relocate a house and other buildings at the Preserve. The Land Trust was able to sell both buildings so they could continue to be used, and crews are currently in the process of moving them to new locations in the community. Moving these buildings is one of our first steps in preparing for habitat restoration and community connections at Ochoco Preserve.

Restoration partners tour Ochoco Preserve to learn about future plans. Photo: Land Trust.
Restoration partners tour Ochoco Preserve to learn about future plans. Photo: Land Trust.
The Land Trust is hoping to begin habitat restoration efforts at Ochoco Preserve in 2022. Staff have been very busy working with restoration contractors and partners to fund, plan, and sequence the many phases that will be needed to restore the Preserve. In September, the Land Trust was awarded $1 million dollars from the Pelton Round Butte General Fund to help with restoration efforts. We are so grateful for this early funding from our partners at Portland General Electric and the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs!

We've also been working with two local families in Prineville to secure the wood we will need for the Ochoco Preserve restoration. The Land Trust and our restoration partners frequently use large whole trees, many with roots intact, for stream restoration projects. Once placed in the stream or surrounding floodplain, these trees provide a variety of physical and natural benefits like slowing water flow and helping improve habitat for salmon and steelhead. Suffice to say, acquiring lots of whole trees to use in the restoration can be challenging! We are looking forward to working with these two families to acquire trees from their thinning projects. Our hope is that these trees will be delivered to Ochoco Preserve next spring.

Finally, in 2022, we will begin the first phase of restoration on the portion of McKay Creek that runs through the Preserve. McKay Creek currently runs along the northwestern boundary of Ochoco Preserve and is bermed to hold it in a straight alignment. Habitat for fish and wildlife is very limited, the creek cannot access its historic floodplain, and the groundwater level has receded. To restore the creek, construction crews will realign the creek onto the Preserve (see map below), adding more side channels, wetlands, and natural structures to improve habitat for fish and wildlife. We will also build a fish acclimation pond, using biodegradable materials,  that will be used to help accustom young spring Chinook salmon and summer steelhead to McKay Creek. Once acclimated, these fish will be released into McKay Creek so that they can begin their journey to the ocean. Finally, part of the restoration will also include establishing locations for trails and educational sites so we can build them as soon as we have funding.

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