As much a part of our landscape as Mt. Bachelor or the Deschutes River, the wildlife who live here are critical to our sense of place. Central Oregon's rapidly expanding population, recreation activity, and development footprint is putting wildlife such as deer and elk under pressure. We work to protect wildlife habitat by stopping the fragmentation of migration corridors, watching the cumulative impacts of development, and protecting natural areas.

Caldera Springs Expansion: Hazardous to Wildlife

Central Oregon’s unparalleled natural beauty and iconic wildlife are once again in the crosshairs of developers. LandWatch has appealed to the Land Use Board of Appeals a permit application for Caldera Springs destination resort to more than double the number of residential lots at the resort, destroying the last remnants of a wildlife corridor that was previously protected as Forest Service land.

This would add nearly 500 new lodging units in what is essentially a new subdivision, which does not comply with Oregon’s destination resort zoning. It would destroy a critical area that native mule deer need for their yearly migration between winter and summer range habitats. If this expansion is allowed to take place, the corridor will be substantially reduced and compressed to a strip between Highway 97 to the east and the destination resort to the west.

The Sunriver area is a key corridor for deer, which have an amazing ability to retrace their steps year after year and often follow the same migration route. The current scale of development has already diminished much of the available habitat for wildlife, and increased traffic associated with growth is an additional hazard.

These animals are as much a part of Central Oregon as Mt. Bachelor and the Deschutes River, and are critical to our sense of place. Please join LandWatch in opposing this destructive maneuver that will forever change our landscape. 

Upper Tumalo Reservoir: The Gateway to the Skyline Forest

The Tumalo Natural Area is a beautiful natural area west of the rural community of Tumalo. Here, the sagebrush and juniper spotted high desert landscape gives way to the green foothills of the Cascades.

As the Gateway to the Skyline Forest, it is a critical connection for the Tumalo Deer Winter Range and contains important habitat for elk, mule deer and other wildlife. Neighbors and visitors enjoy recreational activities such as horse riding, bird watching, and hiking in this area.

In 1988, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) entrusted the Tumalo Irrigation District (TID) with the care of a 930-acre parcel of land known as Bull Flat adjacent to the Upper Tumalo Reservoir. TID received this deed under the condition that the land would remain protected wildlife habitat.

In recent years, TID has neglected its responsibilities toward managing Bull Flat. In fact, it has actively damaged the area by illegally surface mining, including driving hundreds of trucks through the area during the deer winter closure, even after three code violation complaints. It allows year- round motorized vehicle access and has no management plan for the winter feeding area or for the population of threatened Peck’s Milkvetch.

In 1988, ODFW had the foresight to protect this important public resource as a connected and complete natural area. Central Oregon LandWatch believes it should remain protected in this way and we have joined with the Friends of the Tumalo Wildlife Corridor to ask Governor Kate Brown to return the land owned by TID in Bull Flat to its rightful protected status.

Download the Issue Brief here

The Future of the Ochoco mountains


The Ochoco National Forest east of Prineville provides habitat for many species, including elk and redband trout. It also provides for recreational activities like hunting, fishing, hiking, mountain biking, photography, and many more outdoor adventures that visitors and residents enjoy in this beautiful area.

The Forest Service recently released a final decision for a new motorized trail system of 137 miles with 79 stream crossings in the Ochocos at a minimum cost of nearly half a million dollars. These trails would be open for use by motorized vehicles including ATVs, jeeps, small trucks and buggies, and motorcycles.    

OHVs cause noise disturbance and erosion, spread invasive species, damage riparian areas, and cause other negative impacts to wildlife habitats. There is already damaging illegal OHV use in this area with little enforcement, and the Forest Service’s plan for enforcement is essentially self-regulation by the OHV groups.

Central Oregon LandWatch and many others have opposed this terrible project since 2013 because of how it will impact elk, deer and redband trout. LandWatch's team of experienced scientists and NEPA attorneys submitted our objection this week and are ready to take the next steps in the legal process to stop this trail system.