Whychus Canyon Preserve: From acquisition to grand opening.

Apr 01, 2011
With the spectacular Whychus Canyon Preserve finally protected, you might wonder what’s next? How do we ready a newly acquired property for its grand opening? The short answer: with lots of sweat equity!

With the spectacular Whychus Canyon Preserve finally protected, you might wonder what’s next? How do we ready a newly acquired property for its grand opening? The short answer: with lots of sweat equity!

And, of course, a great management plan! Land Trust staff and volunteers spent countless hours at Whychus Canyon Preserve prior to its acquisition. Their mission: to explore its boundaries and interior, create photo monitoring points, inventory vegetation types, wildlife habitat, and more. All that information was then compiled, mapped and analyzed to develop management goals and strategies. At Whychus Canyon, our primary goals are to protect and restore fish and wildlife habitat; while providing for public interpretation, education, and low-impact recreation.

In terms of restoration, we’ve hit the ground running. With major projects still awaiting funding, our current goal is to restore the native forests and meadows of the Whychus Canyon Preserve. The Preserve contains a diverse mix of plant communities including quaking aspens, old-growth junipers, sagebrush meadows, and ponderosa pine stands. To restore 250 acres of ponderosa pine we’re removing encroaching junipers. We’re also thinning juniper from aspen stands and removing invasive weeds from the Preserve. Remarkably, the property has been minimally impacted by invasive weeds. We hope you’ll lend a hand to pull the few that are out there.

In addition to restoration work, trail development has already begun. Utilizing some of the existing roads, the Land Trust will be creating trails that explore the juniper forests and meadows of the canyon rim. Dedicated (and burly!) volunteers will also help rough out a trail down into the canyon to reach Whychus Creek. The trail will follow the creek and then climb back up the canyon walls to the rim, providing access to a previously inaccessible stretch of the creek. We also hope to one day link trails on the Preserve with nearby trails to Alder Springs and the adjacent National Grasslands.

Future restoration and recreation plans include restoring the stream as needed, building permanent interpretive kiosks, and enhancing trails and overlooks with benches and signs. Though this work is still a few years out, we are actively raising funds for these projects.

The months preceding the opening of a Community Preserve are a busy, yet exciting, time for the Land Trust. We’ll be working feverishly to ready the Preserve and welcome you to its grand opening and dedication on June 18th. If you can’t make the dedication, be sure to make some time to explore Whychus Canyon Preserve: the bright wildflowers of the canyon rim or the flitting songbirds that dart about along the meandering Whychus Creek will make the trip well worth it.