Photo: Rick Dingus.

Deschutes Land Trust announces new Paulina Creek Preserve

Nov 17, 2022 by Sarah Mowry
New 1,099-acre Preserve conserves wildlife habitat, helps with climate change, and will provide accessible outdoor connections for the local community.

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The Deschutes Land Trust announced today it has established a new 1,099-acre Preserve near La Pine, OR and Newberry National Volcanic Monument. The new Paulina Creek Preserve protects important habitat for fish and wildlife, helps mitigate the impacts of climate change, and provides valuable connections to the outdoors for the local community.

Paulina Creek Preserve protects three miles of Paulina Creek, wet and dry meadows, and ponderosa and lodgepole pine forest that provide habitat for a wide range of wildlife from frogs and fish to native bees and monarch butterflies, songbirds and bats. The Preserve also conserves winter range for deer and elk and enhances migration corridors with the nearby 54,000-acre Newberry National Volcanic Monument. The wet meadow at the Preserve plays an important role in helping mitigate the impacts of climate change: it acts as a carbon sink, removing carbon from the atmosphere helping buffer local impacts from a warming climate. The Land Trust will work to restore Paulina Creek and its surrounding wet meadow, improving habitat for fish and wildlife and improving water quality and quantity. The Land Trust will transfer primary irrigation water rights associated with the property to instream use, benefiting fish and wildlife habitat along Paulina Creek. In addition, the Land Trust will cancel the supplemental Paulina Lake water associated with the property, increasing lake levels up to 2.75 feet.

Paulina Creek Preserve is within the lands ceded to the United States by the Klamath Tribes and the land has cultural significance to many tribes across the state. The Land Trust is working with the Klamath Tribe, the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs, and others to develop strategies for managing and restoring the property and sharing the history of the people who have cared for this land since time immemorial.

Paulina Creek Preserve also protects important cultural connections for the local community. This iconic former ranch is highly visible from Highway 97 and features breathtaking views of Paulina Peak and the Cascade Range. Conserving it helps protect the scenic character of the region, while also offering accessible recreation for the communities of La Pine and southern Deschutes County. Once the Land Trust can establish trails and access points, they hope to connect these trails with Newberry National Volcanic Monument trails and other local access points.

“The Land Trust is really pleased to be able to work with the community of La Pine, our Tribal partners and neighboring land managers to protect this tremendous cultural and natural resource. Paulina Creek Preserve is so rich in natural habitats, we know it plays an important role in helping to care for the plants and animals of our region today and for generations to come. We also look forward to sharing the Preserve with the community and building accessible trails where we can experience time spent outdoors together,” said Rika Ayotte the Land Trust’s executive director.

The Land Trust is developing management plans for Paulina Creek Preserve to guide the future stewardship of the land. As part of the planning process, they will hold a series of community conversations to discuss community values around the Preserve. Community members can sign up to get involved here. During the planning phase, the Preserve will remain closed to the public, but the Land Trust will be offering guided tours (weather permitting) of the Preserve in 2023. 

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