Rimrock Ranch Restoration

The Land Trust's Rimrock Ranch is beginning to look a lot different! See the dramatic way the Whychus Creek restoration has changed the face of the property.


In 2021, the Land Trust and our restoration partners began the second phase of the multi-year, six-mile restoration of Central Oregon's Whychus Creek. Efforts were focused on the southernmost mile of creek at the Land Trust's Rimrock Ranch with the goal of improving habitat in and around the creek for fish and wildlife. (Learn more about our goals for the restoration.)

Construction crews worked for about seven weeks restoring a 1/2 mile section of Whychus Creek at the southern end of Rimrock Ranch. Highlights from the project can be found below, and you can watch our video to see how the creek has been transformed:




Major features of the 2021 Rimrock Ranch restoration:

  • Floodplain shaping: To reconnect Whychus Creek to its historic floodplain, construction crews removed soil in some places to bring the elevation of the valley floor down, and also added soil/materials in other places to bring portions of Whychus Creek up and fill in the old channel. Up to 4 ft of soil (about 20,000 cubic yards!) was removed in the process.

  • Mature vegetation islands: During the floodplain shaping, islands of mature vegetation were left throughout the valley floor to provide habitat for fish and wildlife and help naturally re-seed the restoration area.

  • Woody debris: 1,600 whole trees (some whole and many with root wads intact) were placed across the valley floor to help slow water and reduce erosion as the restoration project evolves. This woody debris also gives geomorphic processes like sediment aggradation (building up) and degradation (removal) to settle in before the creek chooses its preferential paths. Woody debris also provides important habitat for fish and wildlife. Learn more here.

  • Pool construction: Around 28 pools were created throughout the restoration area to provide near-term habitat for fish as the restoration evolved.

  • Newly created habitat: 9 acres of the valley floor was restored and made accessible to water flows to provide habitat for aquatic and terrestrial species

  • Water release: Water from Whychus Creek was released out onto the valley floor in a phased approach. The restoration area was broken into three segments and creek water was released slowly into each segment to reduce the amount of erosion. The water release looked like a sponge absorbing water, vs a hose spraying water out! Once the water was released, the old creek channel was filled and became part of the valley floor.

  • Planting, lots of planting! In October 2021, 37,000 native plants were planted in the restoration area. Native seed was also spread.


Next steps: Monitoring! We’ll be monitoring this newly-restored section of creek in coming years to measure and document a variety of physical and biological parameters. The remainder of Whychus Creek at Rimrock Ranch (~1.5 miles) is scheduled to be restored in 2023.


Learn more: