Photo: Land Trust.

Rimrock Ranch Creek Restoration Moves Into Next Phase

Jun 07, 2023 by Jana Hemphill
The Land Trust will focus its attention on restoring a 1 1/2 mile section of Whychus Creek at Rimrock Ranch this summer.

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Caring for Central Oregon’s lands and waters takes many different forms. When it comes to Whychus Creek, the Deschutes Land Trust has been working for decades to ensure this critical waterway in our high desert landscape is protected and cared for into the future. This includes restoring Whychus Creek in the valley bottoms where there’s space for the creek to connect with the meadows nearby. This summer, we will be turning our attention to a 1 1/2 mile section of Whychus Creek at Land Trust protected Rimrock Ranch.

The restoration will include excavating parts of surrounding meadows to allow the creek to move freely throughout the entire valley floor. Features like deep pools will be added to the creek to increase the variety of habitat types for fish, insects, and other wildlife within the water. We’ll also focus on ensuring that old creek channels are reconnected to Whychus Creek, helping it meander across the valley floor.

Once the dirt has been moved, crews will add log jams and woody debris to the Creek. This is similar to what we’ve done on past restoration projects on Whychus Creek. More than 1,000 trees from our forest restoration work and from private landowners will be used for this project. All of this woody debris will help improve habitat in and around Whychus Creek, and also help new native plants get established.

Some of the meadows at Rimrock Ranch already have strong native plant communities, so we’ll make sure these sections are left alone during the restoration, allowing them to continue to flourish. In the areas where dirt has been moved and the creek will be shifting, more than 56,000 native grasses, wildflowers, shrubs, and trees will be added this fall. This will be followed by two years of additional plantings.

The restoration of Whychus Creek at Rimrock Ranch is just one way we can all work together to care for Central Oregon’s lands and waters and help create local, natural climate solutions. This project will help Whychus Creek provide clean, cold water during our hot summer months (when it is most needed), increase plant diversity, and provide a wide variety of wildlife habitat for creatures from fish to songbirds to elk.

We look forward to seeing Whychus Creek and its surrounding lands begin to flourish now and into the future! Stay tuned this summer as we provide progress reports!

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