Why You Should Visit
Deep, wind-deposited soils harbor one of the Columbia Basin's last remaining native grasslands. A small, dry creekbed cuts down the center of the preserve which hosts a diversity of wildlife.
In the hills north of Heppner, in north central Oregon
What the Conservancy Has Done/Is Doing
Ecologists are monitoring the recovery of native prairie species and volunteers are helping to control invasive non-native plants that threaten the integrity of the rare habitats on the preserve.
Visitors will notice a scar running across its east end marking a prairie restoration project over an underground natural gas pipeline. Pacific Gas Transmission Company worked with The Nature Conservancy to replant native prairie grasses after installation of the pipeline.
What to See: Plants
Bluebunch wheatgrass and Sandberg's bluegrass dominate the grassland, a habitat type now extremely rare in the Columbia Basin due to highly productive dryland wheat farming and other agriculture.
The preserve also hosts high-quality examples of three other Columbia Plateau native shrubland and grassland communities involving downey wheatgrass, needle-and-thread grass, big sagebrush, and bitterbrush.
What to See: Animals
The preserve hosts a diversity of wildlife, including long-billed curlew, badger, a variety of songbirds and raptors, as well as Washington ground squirrels, state-listed as threatened.
The most interesting area of the preserve is on the slopes surrounding the bottomland. There are no developed trails. The preserve is accessible year-round.
Please observe the following guidelines while hiking:
- Stay on the trail. Don't collect plants, insects or other species or disturb soil, rocks, artifacts or scientific research markers.
- No dogs. Preserves harbor ground-nesting birds and other wildlife that are extremely sensitive to disturbance.
- No bicycles or motorized vehicles. Native plants and research sites are easily trampled.
- No hunting, camping or campfires.
- For groups of 10 or more, please contact us before visiting a preserve (a volunteer naturalist guide may be available).
- Please bring a bag and carry out any trash you find.
- Please report to us any problems you observe (e.g., camping, plant removal, hunting, off-road vehicle damage, etc).
- Take the Irrigon exit (exit 168), followed by the first right (south) onto Bombing Range Road toward Heppner and Lexington.
- After 16.5 miles, turn right (west) onto Juniper Road.
- Travel two miles. The preserve is fenced on both sides of the road with signs marking the corners of the property.
- Continue another 0.3 mile to the bottom of the canyon. There is a gravel road to the left and gravel piles to the right. The preserve is to the left of the road.
- Park along the gravel road and walk northeast on the unimproved dirt access road to the gated entrance.
- Cross the fence and hike up the canyon.