Residents can learn about creek

 

Last updated 1/9/2024 at 9:38am

Photo by Sue Stafford

Restoration work was done on Whychus Creek where it passes through Sisters at Creekside Campground.

Whychus Creek runs 41 miles down off the Cascade glaciers, right through Sisters, and joins up with the Deschutes River as it flows to the Columbia. Over the past two decades, the creek has been the recipient of extensive restoration projects by the Upper Deschutes Watershed Council (UDWC) and the Deschutes Land Trust (DLT).

This winter the UDWC is partnering with Central Oregon Community College to present a six-part informational speaker series about Whychus Creek and its watershed. Attendees will have the opportunity to learn about the history, hydrology, wildlife, water quality, habitat conditions, native fish, water use, and stream restoration.

Classes will be held at the newly remodeled Sisters Library, 110 N. Cedar St., beginning Tuesday, February 6, 2024, with an every-other-Tuesday format for five sessions from 5:30 p.m. or 6 to 7:30 p.m., concluding with an all-day field tour in the Whychus watershed in late April.

A $49 pre-registration fee is required. Participants can register by logging onto the UDWC website at http://www.upperdeschuteswatershedcouncil.org, going to Educate and then Students Speak, a watershed speakers series. Contact Kolleen Miller at [email protected] or 541-382-6103, ext. 3 for more information.

From the summers when it practically disappeared due to aggressive water withdrawal, to the past two decades of rehabilitation/restoration, Whychus is a creek with an impressive story to tell. It has now been designated a wild and scenic river.

Photo by Sue Stafford

To reduce degradation of the creek bank at Creekside Campground, stone steps were installed in key locations along the creek to allow for access.

Whychus - the place we cross the water - was used for centuries by the local Native Americans for fishing and providing a travel corridor to and from obsidian fields in the High Cascades. Explorer John C. Frémont reportedly camped along the creek in 1843, but didn't identify it by name.

As the Central Oregon high desert around present-day Sisters began to attract white settlers and the creek was coveted for its water to provide for farm irrigation and domestic water use. A large series of ditches were dug to direct the creek water to local homesteads, and some are still visible today.

What was once a plentiful fishing creek, became uninhabitable for the red band trout and salmon that used to migrate up the creek to spawn. Low summer/fall water levels led to water temperatures too warm to sustain the native fish population. Due to extensive restoration work conducted by both the UDWC and the DLT, fish are once again present in the creek. This winter's speakers series will provide a wealth of information about all aspects of Whychus Creek.

 

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