McKay Creek is a key tributary of the lower Crooked River. It flows for 37 miles from its headwaters in the Ochoco National Forest to its confluence with the Lower Crooked River downstream of Prineville. The upper twenty-five miles flow through the National Forest and the lower twelve miles flow through private agricultural land. The creek supports a robust population of redband trout, and is a critical tributary for the reintroduction of summer steelhead above the Pelton Round Butte Dam.
The DRC is partnering with McKay Creek farmers and Ochoco Irrigation District on the McKay Creek Water Rights Switch, a project that restores natural flow to McKay Creek while providing farmers with a more reliable water right from a different source. The DRC is also partnering with the Crooked River Watershed Council and local landowners to design and implement a comprehensive restoration strategy for the creek.