Photo: Land Trust.

Our New Addition

Apr 14, 2022 by Sarah Mowry
The Land Trust is pleased to report that we’ve conserved more of Priday Ranch! Learn more about our new Ward Creek addition.

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The Land Trust is pleased to report that we’ve conserved more of Priday Ranch! The Land Trust conserved the 4,500 acre Priday Ranch in 2020, and we recently conserved another 160 acres along Ward Creek, just north of the main portion of the property.

Home to rugged canyons, abundant wildlife, and ten miles of creek, Priday Ranch is located north of Madras, Oregon. The newly protected Ward Creek parcel is across Highway 283 and protects approximately 1.5 miles of Ward Creek. This section of Ward Creek is also extremely rugged with a deep canyon, thick streamside vegetation, and abundant beaver. It’s a remote place, with no buildings and acres of wide open expanses of relatively healthy native bunchgrass communities.

Ward Creek is, of course, the jewel in this high desert landscape. It is home to summer steelhead and resident redband trout as it flows into Antelope Creek at Priday Ranch and then eventually joins with Trout Creek. In the past few years, Trout Creek and its tributaries have experienced some of the lowest flows ever recorded, with many of the lower portions of Trout Creek dry for much of the year. Ward Creek, however, provides year-round water through this newly protected section to its confluence with Antelope Creek. Year-round, cool water habitats are vital for the young summer steelhead that mature in these creeks and for the larger steelhead population that needs these refuges during drought years as our climate continues to warm.

A wide range of other wildlife species are found in and along Ward Creek. Rocky Mountain elk and mule deer use this region for winter range. Jackrabbits, bobcats, and cougars use the grasslands and stream corridors for various life stages and needs. Beavers benefit from robust streamside vegetation which provides food and building materials for their dams. Finally, ground-nesting birds and raptors, like golden eagles, use the grassland and sagebrush habitats for food and cover.

Conserving this new section of Ward Creek ensures habitat for fish and wildlife are protected forever, and that the creek and its surrounding lands continue to provide clean, cold water for human and natural communities. The Land Trust will be taking time over the coming year to document conditions at the property and develop a plan for managing and restoring the parcel in conjunction with the rest of Priday Ranch.

Priday Ranch can be visited on guided tours. Get to know this new gem of Central Oregon by signing up for a walk or hike today!

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