The nugget. (Sisters, Or.) 1994-current, January 28, 2015, Page 8, Image 8

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Wednesday, January 28, 2015 The Nugget Newspaper, Sisters, Oregon
Connecting people to place in Sisters Country
By Craig F. eisenbeis
temperature are important
factors in the maintenance of
critical fish habitat and will
be key to the current efforts to
restore salmon and steelhead
to this part of the Deschutes
At present, DLT has been
able to preserve more than
eight miles of Whychus
Creek that is outside the
boundaries of public lands.
Its current “Campaign for
Whychus Creek” seeks to
protect the remainder of it.
“At this point,” Chalfant said,
“we can see the finish line.”
The campaign seeks to
raise $12-15 million for
this purpose. About a third
of that amount has already
been raised. The goal is to
acquire and restore remaining
stretches of Whychus Creek.
Chalfant envisions the pos-
sibility of one day having a
trail system reaching all the
way from Sisters to Alder
Springs and the creek’s con-
fluence with the Deschutes
Chalfant also addressed
DLT’s ongoing efforts to pro-
tect the 33,000 acre Skyline
Forest. He conceded that that
goal is a large and compli-
cated project. “We’re going
to get there with Skyline
Forest,” he said, “but it’s
going to take time.”
At the conclusion of the
presentation, Chalfant fielded
questions, and one of those
was about the role of bea-
vers in the ecosystem. He
described the importance
of beavers as “huge” in the
establishment and mainte-
nance of the Whychus Creek
system. “Beavers created
many of these meadows,” he
said. “We’ve got active bea-
vers at the lower end of Camp
Polk. They are very ambi-
tious beavers, and we expect
them to move upstream over
time.” Then, with a smile, he
added, “...and they work very
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the Camp polk preserve was one of dlt’s early accomplishments in
protecting land and providing access to the public.
of the Land Trust is fast
approaching, and Chalfant
is pleased with the direction,
vision, and potential legacy
of the Deschutes Land Trust.
“If we can protect these lands
and resources,” he said, “we
can ensure that our work is
permanent and will continue
to strengthen the community
for generations to come.”
The presentation was part
of STA’s continuing series
designed to promote out-
door public recreation and
education in Sisters Country
with quarterly programs on
subjects of outdoor interest.
Future planned quarterly
events will include presen-
tations on mountain biking,
Oregon Wild’s mission to
protect wildlands, and fish-
eries biology in Whychus
Creek and Central Oregon.
For more information
about DLT and its projects,
visit www.deschuteslandtrust.
org. For more information
about the STA, contact Ann
Marland, STA’s community
outreach director, at 541-
549-7006. Additional infor-
mation about STA can also
be found on their website at
Last week in Sisters,
Deschutes Land Trust (DLT)
Executive Director Brad
Chalfant outlined the his-
tory of Whychus Creek and
what the Land Trust sees as
the future for this important
stream that flows through
Sisters. He also took the time
to discuss the role of the Land
Trust in the Deschutes River
Chalfant was introduced
by Bjarne Holm, board mem-
ber for the Sisters Trails
Alliance (STA), which hosted
the event. Holm praised the
work of the Land Trust and
Chalfant as “Someone look-
ing out for the ecosystem we
live in.”
According to Chalfant,
the Deschutes River Basin
comprises approximately 8.6
million acres of mostly public
“I like to think of the
Deschutes Basin as the heart
and soul of Central Oregon,”
Chalfant said.
He was quick to point out
that, while the Land Trust
partners with public agen-
cies in cooperative efforts,
the DLT’s primary focus is to
promote conservation efforts
on privately held lands.
The talk was titled
“Connecting People to
Place,” and focused on DLT’s
efforts to “protect and restore
essential wildlife habitat,” as
well as touching on the role
of the Land Trust and what
that means to the community.
“The wildlife depends on
these lands as their home,” he
“While our focus is the
protection of high-priority
wildlife habitat, we try hard
to afford appropriate access
for the public,” Chalfant said.
He also stressed that “proj-
ects must be relevant to our
Part of that relevance, he
said, is making the trust’s
lands available to the public
in a way that also serves the
“We try to achieve a bal-
ance with public impact in a
way that is sensitive to the
wetlands,” he said, in refer-
ence to DLT’s access policies,
which are a mix of open pub-
lic trails and limited-access
guided tours.
Regarding DLT projects
in and around Sisters, he
discussed preservation work
at Indian Ford Meadow,
Whychus Canyon and espe-
cially Camp Polk Meadow.
The recent re-meandering
of Whychus Creek at Camp
Polk is a model for what DLT
hopes to achieve for addi-
tional reaches of the creek
at Whychus Canyon and
Much of Whychus Creek
was channelized after severe
flooding in 1964. As a result,
important fish and wild-
life habitat was lost. He
described the result as “put-
ting a straightjacket on the
stream.” The Land Trust’s
goal is to return the creek, as
much as possible, to its natu-
ral floodplain.
Evidence so far indicates
that their efforts are being
successful. Recent high-water
events at Camp Polk showed
that the desired results are
being achieved. The flood-
plain in that area was, in fact,
flooded. Moreover, he said,
the revegetation effort there
not only survived the flood-
ing but served its purpose of
stabilizing the restored area
as intended. As part of the
Camp Polk restoration proj-
ect, more than 200,000 veg-
etation plantings were made
in the project area.
When the creek floods
these areas, the underly-
ing soils and aquifer are
recharged with water, in
a way that stabilizes both
future water flow and water
temperatures. Water flow and
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