Places We Protect

Sycan Marsh Preserve


Purple wildflowers and grasses with trees in the background.
Sycan Marsh Wildflowers Sycan Marsh Wildflowers © Rick McEwan

A vast, mile-high wetland on the Pacific Flyway is home to thousands of birds and endangered fish.



Effective April 1, 2021, this preserve is open for limited driving tour access. This property is privately owned and managed in order to protect the sensitive species that call it home.

Use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs or “drones”) is prohibited on or over the preserve.

We appreciate your help in protecting the landscape and respecting all those who enjoy it. 

About Sycan Marsh

This vast, verdant wetland in the upper reaches of the Klamath Basin is a key site for wetland research and restoration and is home to thousands of nesting and migrating birds, threatened fish and newly discovered aquatic creatures. The preserve also includes upland forest.

Derived from the Klamath Indian term saiga keni, "Sycan" means "level, grassy place."

What TNC Has Done/Is Doing

Historically Sycan Marsh functioned as a giant sponge, soaking up the spring runoff and slowly releasing it into the Sycan River into the fall, but early 20th century dikes and drains were drying it out. With agency and watershed partners, TNC is restoring natural water flows to the system, revitalizing more than 20,000 acres of wetlands.

In partnership with the historic ZX Ranch, which holds a grazing lease, TNC is testing the compatibility of grazing practices with wetland restoration. The Jim Castles Applied Research Station, completed in 1997, provides research facilities for TNC scientists and meeting space for scientists and others to share research findings and restoration strategies.

Research includes radio telemetry studies of bull and redband trout migration and distribution patterns, studies of new species of mussel, lamprey, snails and other aquatic organisms, a botanical study of a highly unusual groundwater-fed fen, and breeding surveys of the elusive yellow rail. 

The preserve also includes upland forest areas, providing a new opportunity for forest restoration.


Limited Access

Only accessible for self-guided driving tour (see below)


30,539 acres

Explore our work in Oregon

Please observe the following guidelines while visiting:

  • Stay on designated roads. 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.
  • Please observe social distancing guidelines, follow all posted site usage/visitation guidance, and wear a mask whenever encountering other guests. 
  • 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).


What To See: Plants

The wetland includes a variety of grasses from wooly sedge and marsh buttercup to common camas, once a food staple for Indigenous peoples in the region.

What to see: Animals

Sycan Marsh awakens in early spring to the wingbeats of up to 10,000 tundra swans arriving in their northward migration along the Pacific Flyway. Flocks of 40 other species of waterfowl and water birds, including white pelicans, Forster's terns and white-fronted geese, soon follow. More than 100 greater sandhill cranes return each year to nest on the marsh, as do black terns and yellow rails. Ducks breeding at the preserve include the cinnamon teal, blue-winged teal, northern shoveler, redhead, canvasback, ring-necked duck, common merganser, wood duck and mallard. 

Bull trout and redband trout frequent the creeks that feed and traverse the marsh. The sedge-dominated marsh is also home to pronghorn antelope and many raptors, including bald eagles, red-tailed hawks and goshawks.

Stand Up for Nature in Oregon

The mission of The Nature Conservancy is to conserve the lands and waters upon which all life depends, and for nearly 60 years, we've been working in Oregon to do just that. We're bringing people together to solve the biggest conservation challenges of our time by transforming policy, inspiring communities to take action, protecting vital habitats and natural resources and improving livelihoods.

Find More Places We Protect

The Nature Conservancy owns nearly 1,500 preserves covering more than 2.5 million acres across all 50 states. These lands protect wildlife and natural systems, serve as living laboratories for innovative science and connect people to the natural world.

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