DLT secures 130 acres near Sisters

The Nugget Newspaper reports on the recent purchase of Willow Springs Preserve.
The Nugget Newspaper

The Deschutes Land Trust has purchased and permanently protected 130 acres of land along Whychus Creek near Sisters.

The new Willow Springs Preserve - located below the Rim at Aspen Lakes -includes nearly one mile of Whychus Creek, creekside meadows, juniper and pine woodlands, and rimrock cliffs. The acquisition is part of the Land Trust's ongoing Campaign for Whychus Creek.

"The purchase and creation of Willow Springs Preserve is a great example of how the Campaign for Whychus Creek can leverage local resources to conserve the best of Whychus Creek," said Brad Chalfant, Deschutes Land Trust executive director. "Early donors to the Campaign provided the essential private funding which allowed us to work with partners to quickly secure the property. The Campaign is now in the final months and we need the community to continue stepping up, donating to the Campaign and helping us achieve this important community vision."

Willow Springs Preserve includes one mile of Whychus Creek and its associated meadow floodplain. While currently providing important habitat, the goal is to restore and enhance the ecological function of the creek and floodplain, DLT reports.

The Land Trust intends to maximize high-quality habitat for salmon and steelhead to spawn and rear, for songbirds to nest and forage, and for otter and beaver to eventually flourish.

Willow Springs is one of only a handful of historically wet-meadow properties on Whychus Creek.

The property was purchased from Aspen Lakes Development.

Like the meadows at Camp Polk Meadow Preserve, Whychus Canyon Preserve, and Rimrock Ranch, the meadows on Willow Springs Preserve provide important wildlife habitat in our arid high desert. The Land Trust is currently developing management plans for the Preserve that will guide the future of the land including restoration activities and community use. While plans are being developed, access to the Preserve will be limited to guided tours.

For information on tours, visit www.deschuteslandtrust.org/hikes.

Launched in the fall of 2014, the Land Trust's goal for the Campaign for Whychus Creek is to finish protecting the highest quality wildlife habitat along Whychus Creek, ensure the permanent care of those lands for generations to come, and engage the community along the way. In the three years of the Campaign, the Land Trust has protected three new parcels of land along Whychus Creek and continued to care for the more than 2,300 acres already entrusted to them.

The Land Trust partnered with Craft3, a regional nonprofit lender, in order to act quickly and conserve Willow Springs Preserve - bridging the financial gap between early community donations and acquisition costs, while pursuing grant funds and completion of the Campaign. Craft3 provided financing through its Conservation Bridge Fund, which provides loans to land trusts, conservation, and community groups in Oregon.

"We are excited to support Deschutes Land Trust's conservation work in Central Oregon. The Land Trust's long-term vision for restoration of Whychus Creek aligns with Craft3's mission to invest in ecological assets in the communities we serve," said Brad Hunter, Craft3 business lender.

Craft3 has partnered with DLT in recent years to help conserve high-priority properties in Central Oregon.