Yesterday I attended the dedication for the new 480-acre addition to the Whychus Canyon Preserve in Sisters. I had previously hiked the trails within the Preserve and loved them, so this seemed like a great excuse to return.
(To digress for a moment, if you’ve never explored the Whychus Canyon Preserve, you’re missing out. It’s a nature-lover’s nirvana, with trails meandering along the rocky, deserty crest of the canyon and diving down into the verdant valley basin below. Then there’s the star of this show: Whychus Creek, which provides its own distinct appeal.)
The 480-acre addition to Whychus Canyon Preserve was acquired last fall; it brings the total lands owned and managed by the Deschutes Land Trust to 930 acres. That includes 3.7 miles of Whychus Creek, along with high-quality grasslands and old-growth juniper stands.
The goal of the Land Trust is to protect the highest-quality wildlife habitat along Whychus Creek; to ensure the permanent care of those lands for generations to come; and secure important habitat for salmon and steelhead, deer and elk, eagles and songbirds. (Until yesterday, I didn’t know that Whychus Creek was historically the most productive steelhead stream in the upper basin of the Deschutes River.) Protecting and restoring the habitat needed to rebuild the wild steelhead run of the Deschutes River is a key Land Trust component.
I was especially glad I attended the Saturday morning ceremony after I learned that, for now anyway, this addition to the Preserve is only open for guided tours (the main Preserve, on the other hand, has an extensive network of trails that are open to the public).
After the official dedication, the large group of attendees broke into smaller hiking groups, based on a variety of interests (bird-watching, geology, etc.). I opted for the Wildflower Walk, which, it turned out, was really a Weed Walk.
As Land Trust docents/guides Jane Meissner and David Miller explained, because the flow of Whychus Creek had been redirected many years ago and the area we were exploring had been pasture/range land for so long, it had shifted from a wet meadow to a dry meadow, where hearty weeds were dominant. The Land Trust will be converting the area back to a wet meadow, so in time those wildflowers will return.
For now, however, here’s a glimpse of our morning trek through the new stretch of Whychus Canyon Preserve, along with a few bits of trivia shared by our guides.
If you go: One minor caveat: Getting to the new stretch of Preserve is a bit more challenging than the original – it’s accessed from the tail end of Mountain View Road rather than Goodrich Road (where you’ll find the trailhead for the main Preserve). And, don’t forget, for now it’s only open for organized tours, so you’ll need to plan ahead. The Trust does have quite a few scheduled tours in the upcoming months.
About the Author
Lisa Broadwater, GRI, CDPE, is a Central Oregon-based real estate professional who specializes in listing and selling homes, especially in Sisters, Tumalo, Bend and Redmond.