The Deschutes Land Trust announced today it has expanded the size of its Priday Ranch wildlife preserve north of Madras, OR.
The 160-acre addition includes 1.5 miles of Ward Creek and is located just north of the main Priday Ranch property.
The newly protected Ward Creek addition protects a rugged deep canyon that conserves Ward Creek, along with thick streamside vegetation.
Ward Creek is home to summer steelhead and resident redband trout as it flows into Antelope Creek at Priday Ranch and then eventually joins with Trout Creek.
In the past few years, Trout Creek and its tributaries have experienced some of the lowest flows ever recorded, with many of the lower portions of Trout Creek dry for much of the year.
Ward Creek, however, provides year-round water through this newly protected section to its confluence with Antelope Creek.
Year-round, cool water habitats are vital for the young summer steelhead that mature in these creeks and for the larger steelhead population that needs these refuges during drought years as our climate continues to warm.
A wide range of other wildlife species are also found in and along Ward Creek.
Rocky Mountain elk and mule deer use this region for winter range.
Jackrabbits, bobcats and cougars use the grasslands and stream corridors for various life stages and needs.
Beavers benefit from robust streamside vegetation which provides food and building materials for their dams.
Finally, ground-nesting birds and raptors, like golden eagles, use the grassland and sagebrush habitats for food and cover.
“Protecting this new section of Ward Creek continues a long tradition of conservation and caring for the land that the Priday family so valued on their family ranch,” said Rika Ayotte the Land Trust’s executive director.
“It ensures habitat for fish and wildlife are protected forever, and that the creek and its surrounding lands continue to provide clean, cold water for human and natural communities for years to come.”
Priday Ranch is within the lands ceded to the United States by the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation in the 1855 Treaty with the Tribes of Middle Oregon, and the land trust will look to involve the tribes in developing strategies for managing and restoring the parcel in conjunction with the rest of Priday Ranch.
Priday Ranch can be visited on guided tours. Get to know this new portion of Central Oregon by signing up for a walk or hike today: www.deschuteslandtrust.org/hikes.