Winding through rugged canyons and stoked by the cool waters of Alder Springs, Whychus Creek is one of Central Oregon’s most important waterways. It provides prime spawning habitat for salmon and steelhead as they return to our watershed and is crucial winter range for mule deer and other wildlife. Whychus Creek and the Middle Deschutes River to the east are also incredibly popular recreation destinations, with thousands of visitors enjoying fishing, hiking and exploring the canyons each year, fueling our recreation and tourism economy. In spite of the importance of Whychus Creek and the Deschutes River to our region, the place where these two waterways come together lacks permanent protection. It is time to ensure this spectacular landscape remains wild for future generations.
Our community has invested hundreds of millions of dollars towards the reintroduction of salmon and steelhead in the Upper Deschutes watershed. Protecting this irreplaceable habitat ensures that our investment results in thriving populations of salmon and steelhead in Whychus Creek and the Deschutes River.
As our population grows, there is more pressure on natural areas that are popular for outdoor recreation. The Bureau of Land Management estimated that in 2012 over 12,000 people visited Steelhead Falls to enjoy this spectacular section of the Middle Deschutes River. Thousands more enjoy fishing, kayaking, hiking, hunting or horseback riding in the Whychus-Deschutes canyons every year. The Whychus-Deschutes area needs a designation that reflects its special status, while also giving federal land managers the tools they need to effectively care for our public lands.
The Protect Whychus-Deschutes campaign seeks to gain support from the community, Deschutes County Commission and other local elected officials for permanent protection of the Whychus-Deschutes area through wilderness or other legislative designations.
Gena Goodman-Campbell, Oregon Natural Desert Association, firstname.lastname@example.org, 541-330-2638, www.onda.org
Marilynne Keyser, Friends and Neighbors of the Deschutes Canyon Area, email@example.com, 541-771-3267, www.fansofdeschutes.org