After years of work a river restoration project in Crook County is showing signs of success thanks to a conservation group and their team of volunteers.
Since 2015, the Oregon Nature Desert Association has worked with a landowner to restore a section of the South Fork of the Crooked River outside of Paulina.
“We’re trying to establish a ‘beaver-hood’ where beavers can live and manage the landscape,” says ONDA’s Jefferson Jacobs.
The hope is that if beavers move in, they’ll bring more water.
This is where volunteers come in- first, harvesting the willow and cottonwood shoots at nursery in Clarno, then planting them along the waterway 65 miles to the southeast.
“We’re just giving a little boost, for nature to take it’s course,” says ONDA stewardship coordinator Beth Macinko.
The restoration work is attracting attention from neighbors including the BLM.
“Now we have this great formal collaborative with the Prineville BLM. Writing up everything we’ve learned here, helping with workshops, we’re helping implement similar projects,” says Jacobs.
A success story in the making as volunteer work to bring beavers, and water to a parched corner of the high desert.
“Harder than I thought it was. But maybe we’re setting a good example that others might follow and I think that’s happening,” says landowner Otto Keller.
If you’d like to get your hands dirty restoring this critical habitat, you can visit the Oregon Natural Desert Association’s website to sign up to plant the willow and cottonwood in April.