Canyon Creek Champion

Ongoing monitoring efforts indicate Tensleep Preserve’s stretch of Canyon Creek is one of the healthiest waterways in the entire region.

Trey Davis knows Tensleep Preserve’s Canyon Creek by heart—he’s spent almost every day for the past decade somewhere along this rugged and remote 12-mile stretch of water. 

In the spring, Davis skis to the creek’s alpine headwaters one day, and is down in the jungle-like creek bottom doing a beaver survey the next. 

He knows every nook and cranny and shares this knowledge with visitors who come to enjoy the creek’s stunning canyon scenery. 

For Davis, the Conservancy’s Wyoming land management supervisor and Tensleep Preserve manager, watching over Canyon Creek is one of his most important responsibilities on the 9,000-acre preserve. 

Protecting Canyon Creek is also one of the Conservancy’s top freshwater priorities in the state. 

For the Love of a Creek

Slicing deeply through the southwestern flanks of the Bighorn Mountains, Canyon Creek’s vertical cliffs rise 600 feet, with dense overhanging vegetation providing shelter for bats, raptors, bears and more. 

The high canyon walls tuck away caves and Native American archeological sites. 

Restoration in Action

Every part of the preserve flows into Canyon Creek, so keeping the creek healthy means working well beyond its banks

Ongoing restoration projects reach from the preserve’s uplands all the way down to the end of the canyon. 

Under Davis’s direction, the Conservancy’s work here involves planting native seeds to grow vegetation that will prevent muddy run-off into the creek, and reclaiming the many old roads left from the preserve’s time as a Girl Scout Camp. 

The work also requires lots of weed removal. Sometimes, this takes slowly walking every inch of the preserve to find and pull nasty invaders like Canada thistle, burdock and hound’s tongue. 

And the Research Says

Davis has help from academic and public agency groups throughout the summer to monitor and track the preserve’s ecological health. 

Some of the groups that help conduct insect, fish, bird, plant, bat and water-quality surveys:

  • The Draper Museum of Natural History at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center
  • Eastern Illinois University
  • Illinois Natural History Survey
  • Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality
  • Wyoming Game and Fish
  • Washakie County Conservation District 

These ongoing monitoring efforts indicate the preserve’s stretch of Canyon Creek is one of the healthiest waterways in the entire region

For this, Davis is proud but pragmatic that the work to keep this rugged creek healthy will never end. 

But that’s okay with him—it means tomorrow he’ll be back in the canyon again. 

You can help the Conservancy continue our important work safeguarding Canyon Creek and other important waterways in Wyoming.


Stay Updated

Learn about the places you love and find out how you can help by signing up for Nature eNews.

I'm already on the list Read our privacy policy

Thank you for joining our online community!

We'll be in touch soon with more Nature Conservancy news, updates, and exciting stories.