A look at LandWatch Nonprofit known for land-use appeals and lawsuits started small in Sisters By Dylan J. Darling / The Bulletin ...
Defense of Whychus Creek
LandWatch’s first conservation work in Central Oregon was on Whychus Creek (then called "Squaw Creek"). Whychus Creek is one of the most important and distinctive tributaries to the Deschutes River, with unique geology and archeology. It was historically the most significant steelhead spawning tributary and hopefully will be again with the new Pelton/Round Butte Dam fish passage.
Upper Whychus Creek
In the early 1980s LandWatch founder Paul Dewey worked with others against proposed hydro development on Whychus where two significant sections on the Creek (one at the House Cave) were to have been put into pipes. The hydro development was stopped.
Then in the mid-1980s LandWatch (then called the “Sisters Forest Planning Committee”) filed its first Forest Service timber sale appeal, on the Black Pine timber sale which included proposed clearcuts right to the edge of the Creek. In a settlement of the appeal we stopped all logging near the Creek and saved old growth along the nearby Metolius/Windigo National Recreation Trail. (When loggers later cut some of the saved old growth anyway, LandWatch discovered the timber theft, leading to the conviction of the then-largest known timber theft operation on Forest Service land in Oregon history.)
In the late 1980s LandWatch stopped another timber sale along the Creek, the Pole Swamp sale. Finally, in the early 1990s LandWatch helped achieve Wild and Scenic River designation for the upper 15 miles of Whychus Creek.
Most recently LandWatch appealed Forest Service plans for an extensive trail development along the lower section of the Wild and Scenic River corridor. While certainly not opposed to most trails, LandWatch objected to trail development in this sensitive canyon. LandWatch supported other elements of the Forest Service plans aimed at protecting and restoring areas that had been overused or misused.
Lower Whychus Creek
Along the lower 10 miles of Whychus Creek above its confluence with the Deschutes River, LandWatch has opposed private land use development that would compromise the natural resources of the area, particularly near the Alder Springs Wilderness Study Area.
LandWatch has also sponsored hydro-geological research of potential impacts to springs along the lower Whychus that would be caused by large-scale rural development (including destination resorts) which would use substantial groundwater.
Significant protection of Whychus Creek has been achieved by the LandWatch-led effort to create the Metolius Area of Critical State Concern (“ACSC”) which prevents development that would negatively impact the Metolius Springs and Metolius River. Because development on some of these lands would impact Whychus Creek as well, this protection of the Metolius also protects portions of Whychus Creek.
To read about Central Oregon LandWatch’s current projects on Whychus Creek click here.