Building the Future of Ochoco Preserve

Learn more about the multi-year project to restore healthy streams, flourishing native plants and wildlife, and build new connections for the community.


The Land Trust conserved Ochoco Preserve in 2017 and has been working for several years to build a vision for the future of property. Our vision includes healthy streams, flourishing native plants and wildlife, and new connections for the community. Learn more about the project below, sign up for email updates on the project, or read our regular Project updates: August 2022, September 2022, and October 2022.

Why restore habitat and connect the community to Ochoco Preserve?

With one mile of the Crooked River, 1/2 mile of McKay Creek, and 1/2 mile of Ochoco Creek, Ochoco Preserve has significant potential for restoring habitat for fish and wildlife. Historically, much of the Preserve consisted of wetlands along the Crooked River. The property was converted to farmland in the mid-1900s, but high groundwater levels and difficult topography (low spots, stream channels, and an old Crooked River channel) made it challenging to farm. When the Land Trust conserved the property in 2017 one of our goals was to work to restore the Preserve’s extraordinary natural resources.

Ochoco Preserve also has significant potential for community connections. One of our goals is to develop educational sites and trails to share the story of the land and its amazing natural resources. We’re working with numerous community partners, including the City of Prineville, Crook County Parks and Recreation, and Crook County School District to ensure access, trail connections, and educational options that are robust and inclusive.


How will this new future for the Preserve take shape?

Given the size and scale of the habitat restoration and community engagement efforts, work will occur in phases over many years. Our restoration efforts will center around returning many of the historic natural processes that the Crooked River, Ochoco Creek, and McKay Creek would have had. To do that we need to give these streams a boost by changing where and how they currently flow at the Preserve. This means giving them the space to meander and adding more side channels and natural structures to improve habitat for fish and wildlife. And it means creating floodplain and wetland habitat so these waterways can store, and then release, cleaner, cooler water back into the system. Finally, part of the habitat restoration will also include establishing locations for trails and educational sites so we can build them as soon as we have funding. 

Ochoco Preserve (bright green area of map) with conceptual restored portions of waterways (dark blue). Map: Deb Quinlan.
Ochoco Preserve (bright green area of map) with conceptual restored portions of waterways (dark blue). Map: Deb Quinlan.



In 2022, we will begin the first phase of habitat restoration on the portion of McKay Creek that runs through the Ochoco Preserve. McKay Creek currently runs along the northwestern boundary the Preserve and is bermed to hold it in a straight alignment. Habitat for fish and wildlife is very limited, the creek cannot access its historic floodplain, and the groundwater level has receded. To restore the creek, construction crews will realign the creek onto the Preserve (see map above), adding more side channels, wetlands, and natural structures to improve habitat for fish and wildlife. We will also build a fish acclimation pond, using biodegradable materials,  that will be used to help accustom young spring Chinook salmon and summer steelhead to McKay Creek. Once acclimated, these fish will be released into McKay Creek so that they can begin their journey to the ocean. Finally, part of the habitat restoration will also include establishing locations for trails and educational sites so we can build them as soon as we have funding. Learn more about the first phase of the Ochoco Preserve Project.


Who is leading this project?

The Land Trust has contracted with the consulting firm, Tetra Tech, in order to create a design for Ochoco Preserve that meets project objectives, while minimizing risks to surrounding properties. The Land Trust will lead implementation efforts with Tetra Tech providing construction oversight. Finally, a comprehensive group of project partners have provided design review and specific expertise on design elements. Members of this group include representatives from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, City of Prineville, Crooked River Watershed Council, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, Oregon Department of Transportation, U.S. Forest Service, Portland General Electric, and Crook County Parks and Recreation District.

A special thank you to Portland General Electric, the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Oregon Fisheries Restoration and Enhancement Act of 1989, the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, and many others for their support of the Ochoco Preserve Project.

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