When Sen. Ron Wyden invited Oregonians to nominate rivers and creeks for protection under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act last fall, hundreds of people spoke up to nominate Lower Whychus Creek in Central Oregon.
The name Whychus means “place where we cross the water” in Sahaptin, the language of the Columbia River tribes. For millennia, the Chinookan, Sahaptin, Northern Paiute, and Molala peoples have visited Whychus Creek to fish, hunt and gather roots.
Whychus Creek plays a significant role in the lives of Central Oregonians as a source of clean water, recreation, replenishment and healing. With salmon and steelhead returning to the Upper Deschutes Watershed for the first time in over a generation, Lower Whychus Creek provides critical spawning habitat and hope for a healthier future.
In the words of ONDA members and supporters, here is why Lower Whychus Creek deserves protection as a Wild and Scenic River.
“I would like to nominate Whychus Creek outside of Sisters, Oregon. Over the years many groups and individuals have restored this very special place. Much of the east side of Oregon is ignored; this small river should not be. My childhood home is near this magical river, its rushing flows have healed me, its quiet flows have calmed me.”
Chris Hatten, Stayton
ONDA Member since 2012
“Lower Whychus Creek needs to be protected to secure healthy habitat for the return of salmon and steelhead, which many conservation organizations in the Deschutes Basin have been working on for many years. The creek is such an important part of the Sisters community, and has brought the town together in the effort to protect it for the future.”
Mary Crow, Sisters
ONDA Member since 2015
“This is a creek that provides many opportunities for all ages and interests and is close enough to population centers to provide a taste of nature in our backyards. This creek is vital to a varied wildlife community as well. I spend many hours walking its banks every week.”
Leanne Rowley, Sisters
ONDA Member since 2019
“My favorite spot on earth is the lower Whychus Creek Canyon from Alder Springs to its confluence with the Wild and Scenic Middle Deschutes. I’ve hiked, camped, fished, and kayaked here since I could do any of these things, just like my parents and grandparents. I’ve seen many river miles over the past 20 years as a river guide, and Whychus Creek stands out as one of the most astonishing and surprisingly wild stretches out there.”
Timothy Freeman, Terrebonne
How about you? Do you love Whychus Creek, or another desert river?
- Speak up for Whychus Creek and other important desert streams.
- Sign up for How to Protect Desert Rivers. This digital event on May 5, 2020 is part of our High Desert Academy offerings.