Photo: Land Trust.

Ochoco Preserve Project Phase One

The Land Trust implemented the first phase of the Ochoco Preserve Project in 2022. Learn more about what was accomplished.

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Implementation of the Land Trust’s vision for the future of Ochoco Preserve started in 2022. Phase one of the project focused on habitat restoration in and around the McKay Creek portion of the Preserve. Highlights included:

  1. Creating a new meandering McKay Creek with side channels. A new meandering main channel was moved onto the Preserve, doubling its overall length to one mile. An additional mile of side channels were also constructed. These side channels provide habitat for young fish to grow, and provide more diverse habitat conditions for other native fish and wildlife.

  2. Building a new floodplain. Land surrounding the McKay Creek main channel was lowered to create a new floodplain that is up to 300-400 feet wide and gives the creek more room to spread out and slow high water flows. Eleven acres of new floodplain were created.  

  3. Adding more stream habitat. Woody debris was placed within McKay Creek via log jam structures, small dams that mimic beaver dams, and other fixed wood structures. In addition, riffles (shallow parts of a stream that have rough water) and deep, calm pools were added to the creek. This created more habitat types to benefit fish and wildlife.

  4. Constructing an acclimation pond. Fish reintroduction efforts received a boost with a newly created acclimation pond. The pond helps accustom young spring Chinook salmon and summer steelhead to McKay Creek, before they are released to journey to the Pacific Ocean and, hopefully, back to McKay Creek again to spawn.

  5. Establishing locations for community connections. Part of the habitat restoration also included establishing locations for the trails and educational sites that will be built in future phases.

After active construction finished, the Land Trust let the restoration area rest, recover, and evolve. Thousands of native plants (40,000!) are now helping hold the soil in place and grow in and fill the bare soil. Phase two of the Ochoco Preserve Project started in 2024.

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