Ochoco Preserve project is converting former farmland to wildlife habitat

Central Oregon Daily News reporter, Brooke Snavely, reports on the Ochoco Preserve project in Prineville and the Land Trust's Prineville Open House.
By Brooke Snavely
Central Oregon Daily News
 
An open house will be held Thursday in Prineville for the new Ochoco Preserve. The project is restoring farmland into an oasis for fish and wildlife.

The Deschutes Land Trust acquired the 185-acre Ochoco Preserve in 2017.

In June of this year, the trust began sculpting the previously flat farmland into rolling hills, floodplains and meandering stream channels that fish and wildlife are already starting to use.

“We’ve got pools, riffles, places for fish and wildlife to thrive. Spawning habitat in the gravels for native redband trout, summer steelhead and possibly Chinook salmon,” said Jason Grant, restoration specialist. “We are looking to have those variable, complex habitats for fish. That’s what we are doing with the wood in the channel and the pools that we have dug.”

The Preserve includes one mile of the Crooked River, 1/2 mile of McKay Creek and 1/2 mile of Ochoco Creek.

All three will be environmentally engineered to improve wildlife habitat and eventually open for the public to enjoy.

“The idea is to have full connectivity with the city and the wetlands complex and here. And on this preserve we will have over a mile of trails so folks can enjoy, see what the restoration benefits are and watch the vegetation grow over time,” Grant said.

If you’d like to learn more about the Deschutes Land Trust’s Ochoco Preserve and renovation project, there will be an open house at the Crooked River Wetlands picnic shelter on Thursday, September 28 from 5 – 7 p.m.