Land trust plans restoration for new Camp Polk addition

Jun 19, 2012

Sisters Nugget

Land trust plans restoration for new Camp Polk addition By Craig Eisenbeis

6/19/2012 11:23:00 AM 

 


Sitting right on Whychus Creek and snuggled between Camp Polk Road and the Land Trust's existing Camp Polk Meadow Preserve are six acres of wetlands that are now part of the preserve. Land Trust officials plan to "actively and permanently manage the property as part of Camp Polk Meadow Preserve. Initial restoration work will focus on removing existing structures on the property and restoring the adjacent wetlands. The Land Trust will also work to restore native aspen, cottonwood, and pine stands."

Sarah Mowry, the Land Trust's outreach director, explained, "In terms of future plans for the property, we hope to begin restoration soon. We are planning to remove the current structures on the site as soon as we have funding to do the associated wetland restoration. We'd like to do the restoration and structure removal together to limit the invasive weeds that might move in."

Although the availability of funding remains the controlling issue, Mowry hopes that restoration could begin as early as this fall. Much of the ground that the buildings now sit on is underlain with springs that originally created natural wetlands on the site. "The springs are even under the structures," said Mowry. "Literally, you can see them bubbling out around the garage, and there are wetland plants that are growing in the grassy lawn."

Restoring the homesite to a natural condition will further enhance the entire area's habitat and biodiversity. Historically, the site was home to complex wetlands and beaver ponds. Although much attention has been focused on improved stream habitat for the reintroduction of salmon and steelhead to Whychus Creek, the new addition is also expected to enhance bird and wildlife habitat for all of the preserve.

More than 150 species of birds have been recorded on the Camp Polk Preserve, and more than a third of that number have been observed on the six acres of the new Pond addition.

The new section of the preserve is referred to as the "Pond Addition," not because a pond is present or planned, but because Pond is the surname of the family that lived on the site for many years. Elmer Pond was the most recent resident, and his mother once owned much of Camp Polk Meadow. Elmer was quite pleased to have his property end up as part of the Land Trust's preserve and is looking forward to seeing the site returned to its natural state.

Mowry said that the Pond Addition will be managed as part of the main meadow, which means that public access will be limited to organized tours conducted by the Land Trust. The area, however, is visible from Camp Polk Road near the bridge over the creek and from the public viewing area at the Hindman Springs interpretive site at the western edge of the preserve, near the Camp Polk Cemetery.

The entrance sign for the public viewing area is on Camp Polk Road about a half mile east of the Wilt Road junction. Camp Polk Road is the county extension of Locust Street and passes by the Sisters Airport.

Although public access to the majority of the preserve is limited, free tours may be scheduled by contacting the Deschutes Land Trust. To sign up for a tour or for further information contact 541-330-0017 or visit www.deschuteslandtrust.org.

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