2012 blog posts

New Year's Eve at Whychus Canyon Preserve

Last Saturday I had a chance to take my own advice and head out to the Land Trust's Whychus Canyon Preserve for a little "winter wandering."

Last Saturday I had a chance to take my own advice and head out to the Land Trust's Whychus Canyon Preserve for a little "winter wandering."  My husband and I had a rare free day together and, though the fresh snow beckoned, New Year's crowds did not. We decided instead to head to Whychus Canyon so I could show Andrew the newest Land Trust Preserve and its canyons and creek.

We started our hike by heading out along the main road towards the boulders. A light dusting of snow remained in the shadows while our boots sunk into the sunnier muddy sections. Tracks criss-crossed the road--mice, squirrel, and the occasional deer. The birds seemed quiet, except for a noisy group of juncos as we neared the boulder spine that marks the northern edge of the Preserve.

AM.WC boulder view
AM.WC boulder view
AM.WC boulder view

We climbed up to the boulder overlook noticing the little rivulets the recent rain had carved in the notches. Though afternoon clouds had started to arrive, the view of North and Middle Sisters was just as breathtaking as usual. The view seemed especially beautiful with that thin dusting of snow.

After a somewhat icy scramble down the trail to the canyon floor, I was hit immediately by the smell of sagebrush. The long awaited rain and snow must have made this pervasive little shrub release its fragrance. I love the smell of sagebrush, maybe because it reminds me of warm days in our high desert. But now I have a new winter scent memory to add to the mix.

We tramped through the sagebrush and then along Whychus Creek enjoying the sound of rushing water. The creek too was reveling in the rain--in fact, it seemed like the entire Preserve was taking a deep breath to soak in the moisture after a long dry spell. The hike back up the canyon walls was invigorating and peppered with views of the creek and mountains beyond.

We moseyed back to the car and vowed to take another day to explore the Preserve.


Notes from the Field: January 2012

The latest news from Land Trust Community Preserves

Whychus Canyon Preserve

Stewardship Director Amanda Egertson has been enjoying her time out at Whychus Canyon Preserve scouting potential new trail alignments.  With the help of John Schubert, a trails specialist from the USFS, Amanda has been hiking all over the property looking for potential trails for the modest trail network to be developed at Whychus Canyon Preserve.  "Trail planning requires a certain amount of juggling," said Amanda.  "Our highest priority is the protection of fish and wildlife habitat--so that’s always in the forefront of our minds when we’re scouting for possible trail alignments. But we’re also incorporating plans for future stream and forest restoration, protection of cultural resources, current public use patterns and hiker access to stream and scenic views, and adjacent land ownerships. The Bureau of Land Management has been a great partner and we’re currently working with them to designate a formal trailhead. This parking and kiosk area will most likely be on BLM land and trails will fan out from there.”  It's a tough job, but someone has to spend their days hiking around Whychus Canyon Preserve.  Luckily, Amanda took some video from her adventures so that we could all enjoy the fruits of her labor. 

Wildlife update: A human-friendly female deer has been encountered by a few hikers at Whychus Canyon Preserve.  The Land Trust has posted signs on the property asking hikers to call us at the office should you encounter the deer, which has followed one group back to their cars and down the road.  For the deer's protection, please help it develop a more cautious approach to humans.  ODFW advises clapping loudly or yelling at it if you should be approached by the doe.  We are unsure where the deer came from or why it is not afraid of humans, but caution is in order should you encounter it.

Metolius Preserve

Fire patterns in the duff layer.
Fire patterns in the duff layer.
Fire patterns in the duff layer.
Progress is being made with plans to expand the parking area and install a new information kiosk at the North Fork entrance of the Metolius Preserve, along the Lake Creek Trail that runs from Camp Sherman to Suttle Lake.  The Land Trust has contracted with Chuck Newport of Construction Management Services in Sisters to develop designs for the new kiosk as well as two pedestrian bridges, one to cross the North Fork and one to cross the Middle Fork of Lake Creek.  The JC Kellogg Foundation provided primary funding for these projects, which will improve access to the ecologically diverse northern portion of the Metolius Preserve for low impact recreation and outdoor education for students. 

Fire!  The fires from November pile burning finally burned themselves out after a month of smouldering and creeping along the ground at the Metolius Preserve.  Now it's time to do it again!  We hope to burn the remaining piles on section 17 of the property by the end of February, but as always, the weather will be the deciding factor for burning.


Whychus Creek and Camp Polk Meadow: Reunited after 47 Years

Whychus Creek has returned to its home in Camp Polk Meadow Preserve. Watch these videos of the historic day.

On February 28, 2012 Whychus Creek was redirected to its historic home in Camp Polk Meadow. Watch the redirection via these time-lapse videos put together by Scott Nelson Productions, Dustin Mitsch of Alpenexposure, and Wahoo Films. Visit the Whychus Creek restoration page for details about the restoration project and where it stands today.

Time-lapse 1:
This first video shows the construction of the plug--trees, rocks, and sediment--that blocks the flow of Whychus Creek to its old channelized route (Credit: Scott Nelson).



Time-lapse 2: This video shows the new restored Whychus Creek channel filling with water as the old channel is blocked (Credit: Scott Nelson)..

Time-lapse 3:
This video shows another angle of the new restored Whychus Creek channel filling with water as the old channel is blocked (Credit: Dustin Mitsch).


Time-lapse 4:This video gives an in-creek view of the new restored Whychus Creek channel filling with water (Credit: Wahoo Films).

Timelapse_waterRise.mov from Wahoo Films on Vimeo.

Behind the Scenes: Bird Surveys

Have you ever wondered why birders go out and count birds? Volunteer Eva Eagle gives us a deeper look into the process of surveying birds on Land Trust Preserves.

Have you ever wondered why birders go out and count birds?  Bird surveys give us lots of useful information.  They can tell us what species of birds are present on Land Trust Preserves, the number of species typically found (diversity), population numbers over time (are they rising, falling, or staying the same?) and if there are new species showing up during or after major changes, such as the restoration project along Whychus Creek through Camp Polk Meadow Preserve. Over time, this data gives us a historical perspective of the species of birds inhabiting an area, their population numbers, and can even provide clues as to the overall the health of an ecosystem. 

We are extremely fortunate to have dedicated volunteers who survey Land Trust Community Preserves and have for 10 years!  Eva Eagle is one of our stellar volunteers who compiles the survey results and provides that information to our land stewards.   Here, she gives us a deeper look into the process of surveying birds on Land Trust Preserves.


It is the time of year when I put together the bird surveys for the past 12 months; Surveys that will provide information to help us understand the impact of the Whychus Creek restoration project at Camp Polk Meadow on bird populations.  This survey project is nearly ten years old, and the past five years have been quite intensive. 

As I sit here at my computer processing the observations for 2011, I have received 65 Camp Polk Meadow surveys with a few more still to come in.  I also have 22 surveys for birds at Indian Ford Meadow, conducted under the same protocol.  Having surveys from both Camp Polk Meadow and Indian Ford Meadow Preserve, helps us to compare changes at Camp Polk Meadow to a neighboring property without restoration activity to find out what the birds would be doing without the restoration project.  In other words, Indian Ford Meadow Preserve is our study control.

A flock of wild turkeys at Camp Polk Meadow Preserve.  Photo: Land Trust.
A flock of wild turkeys at Camp Polk Meadow Preserve. Photo: Land Trust.
A flock of wild turkeys at Camp Polk Meadow Preserve. Photo: Land Trust.

The many surveys I am processing were conducted by a small group of hardy volunteers, some of whom went out dozens of times.  They went out to count birds in every month of the year, in temperatures ranging from 10 to 80 degrees.   A few hardy souls went at dusk or later.  Most visits were done in good weather, but a few were done during a snowfall and several in the rain.  One survey was done in the smoke from the Shadow Lake Fire!  Volunteers braved snow cover of up to a foot to make their rounds.  Sometimes 15 minutes was all they had to spend, but at the Hindman Springs area of Camp Polk Meadow Preserve, that is a rich quarter hour. On the other hand, some surveys took the entire day and the most typical survey took 2-3 hours.  Some short surveys produced only a couple of species in poor conditions, but other surveys found over 40 species.  The total birds seen ranged from 9 to 422. 

Hindman Springs.  Photo: Kris Kristovitch
Hindman Springs. Photo: Kris Kristovitch
Hindman Springs. Photo: Kris Kristovitch

Experienced birders won't be surprised to hear that the area surveyed most often was Hindman Springs with more than 90% of visits.  The entry ponderosa grove was visited about 80% of the time, and the Upper Meadow 80% or 90%.  The presence of a significant channel in the meadow has impacted the visit rates, with the lower areas getting fewer visits this year than due to limited accessibility.  Still, even the least visited areas got over 30 surveys this year, down from around 40 in 2010.  Our volunteers are tough!

Although the true value of surveying birds is clearly more about recording the number and variety of 'ordinary birds,' it is always fun to add species to the bird list.  Sure enough, in the past two years we have seen quite a few species that have not been seen at Camp Polk Meadow Preserve before, including Blue-winged Teal, Northern Pintail, Prairie Falcon, Eurasian Collared Dove, Green-tailed Towhee, Yellow-breasted Chat, and Black Phoebe.   The total number of species on the Camp Polk Meadow bird list is now up to 150, while the Indian Ford list is up to 109. 

If you are an experienced birder and you would like to volunteer, contact Eva to find out more about the bird survey program at Land Trust community preserves.

Plant profile: Ponderosa Pine (Pinus ponderosa)

How much do you know about this majestic pine with its cinnamon colored bark?

The ponderosa pine is a tree commonly found throughout Oregon and on all of the Land Trust’s Community Preserves.  How much do you know about this majestic pine with its cinnamon-stick colored bark?  Here are some facts that might be of interest, or at least come in handy during a mid-winter trivia game.

Name: Ponderosa pine, also known as western yellow pine, yellow pine, bull pine, blackjack pine.

Description:  The ponderosa pine is a long-lived species found in abundance throughout the western U.S.  It can range from 55-90’ tall and can live up to 400 years.  Needles are found in clusters of 3, called fascicles, and are typically 4-6 inches long.  Ponderosa pine will keep their needles for several years and then drop old needles during the fall months.  The bark is dark brown to nearly black when young and turns from cinnamon brown to orange-yellow at about 90 years of age. This tree quickly develops a deep tap root which helps it to survive extended drought periods, especially long, dry summers.  It is also well adapted to grow on bare rock with its roots following crevices or cracks in the rock.

Winter survival strategies:   Winter conditions make finding sources of liquid water and transporting water a challenge.  Water loss is minimized in several ways.  Water can be obtained from the ground, within the tree, or under the snow.  Conifers have special cell adaptations to facilitate water transport whenever temperatures allow it. 
Each year conifers drop some of their leaves, similar to broad-leafed trees, they just don’t shed them all.  Most conifers retain needles for two to three years before shedding them.   Retaining needles allows trees to extend the length of the photosynthetic season.  It also potentially allows trees to take advantage of winter thaws and, perhaps, even to permit slow rates of photosynthesis during cold weather.

Metolius Preserve ponderosas
Metolius Preserve ponderosas
Metolius Preserve ponderosas

Food for wildlife: Ponderosa pine can become targets for animal browsing during the winter.  Foliage contains some of the better sources of nutrients, although they are poor compared to summer food availability.  The seeds of ponderosa pine are choice food of red-winged blackbirds, chickadees, mourning doves, finches, evening grosbeaks, jays, Clark's nutcrackers, nuthatches, white-throated sparrows, rufous-sided towhees, turkeys, chipmunks and squirrels. The pine needles are important food of blue and spruce grouses. The pine bark is fair food for beavers, and is used by porcupines which sometimes damage the trees.  Nuthatches dig nest holes in dead trees.

Traditional uses:  Ponderosa pine was employed medicinally by several native North American Indian tribes, who valued it especially for its antiseptic properties, using it to treat a range of skin problems, cuts, wounds, burns etc. It was also valued for its beneficial effect upon the respiratory system and was used to treat various chest and lung complaints. The turpentine obtained from the resin of all pine trees is antiseptic.  The inner bark of the ponderosa pine can be eaten raw or cooked and the seed, which is rich in oil, can be ground up to make a flour used in bread-making.

Quilt for Two Rivers: Remeandering Whychus Creek

The Land Trust is part of the Quilt for Two Rivers project. Read artist Betty Gientke's blog post about the quilt panel she created of the Land Trust's Camp Polk Meadow Preserve.

The Land Trust is a proud partner of the Quilt for Two Rivers project--a collaboration between fiber artists to create a 40-foot quilt which honors Sisters, Oregon’s Treasured Landscapes. Whychus Creek is one of the landscapes and artist Betty Gientke created her panel of the Land Trust's Camp Polk Meadow Preserve

Here the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show was kind enough to let us repost Betty's blog about her quilt panel:

When I was invited to participate in this project I envisioned creating something totally different.  The orientation and hike to the area opened my eyes to an inspiring project of the Upper Deschutes Watershed Council, the U.S. Forest Service and Deschutes Land Trust.

CPMquilt panel_Betty Gientke
CPMquilt panel_Betty Gientke
CPMquilt panel_Betty Gientke

The Camp Polk Meadow restoration area guide talked about returning the straight channel to the original meander of the creek.  I didnʼt fully understand what that was all about. With some research after the hike I was able to figure out fish like to hide under logs, and they like slow water with pools, riffles and glides.

It was an “ah-ha” moment for me, since Iʼm not a fisherwoman. The project, to dig a meandering channel through the meadow, would start the process of returning the creek to its original flow and provide quality habitat for fish and other wildlife.

The groups planted some 180,000 native plants, placed 5,000 cubic feet of rocks and 700 logs, and moved fish that were left behind. I wanted to design a quilt that represented some of these things.

When I visited Camp Polk Meadow the skies were grey and the vegetation mostly gold, brown, some green, with an occasional orange. I wanted to represent the remeandering of the creek very simply with the meander being the focus. I pieced and appliqued layers of fabrics and colors. I designed a view from an old Ponderosa pine tree to show some representative rocks and logs along the creek.

There are some representative eddies and pools–and you just might just find one of those elusive fish if you look hard enough.

Itʼs been a privilege to be part of this project. It has given me an increased appreciation for the work of the restoraton groups and the value of the remeandering of Whychus Creek.

Thanks to Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show, The Stitchinʼ Post and those working to bring back native fish for the opportunity and challenge to design a piece of the two rivers. I am calling my quilt “Remeandering of Whychus Creek.”

–Betty Gientke



Thanks to the National Forest Foundation, the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show, and the US Forest Service

for making this project possible.

Land Conservation is Good Business

Land Trust Board member Gillian Ockner recently wrote and article for Cascade Business News. The topic: the economic value of land conservation.

By Gillian Ockner

Nationwide, we are coming to understand the economic value of land conservation. Access to natural areas is a key element in quality of life as people seek out balance between earning income and staying healthy, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. A survey by the National Association of Homebuilders concluded new homebuyers value trails and natural areas above any other amenity.   Quality of life is also a priority for businesses.  In Richard Florida’s book, The Rise of the Creative Class, businesses, with the freedom to choose a site, often select one with a high quality of life.   

In order to better tell the story of land conservation and economic benefit, we must look to relevant data to quantify the value we put on nature and apply to our decision-making.

We can quantify increases in property values.  For example, property sales in Michigan from the late 1970’s through 2000 showed lots bordering permanently conserved forests sold for 19% to 35% more than lots further from the preserves, whereas properties adjacent to unpreserved forests showed little or no increased value. 

We can quantify avoided public infrastructure expenditures.  Conserving land along the sides of streams and other drinking water sources prevents polluted runoff draining directly into the water source. The Trust for Public Land and the American Water Works Association conducted a study of 27 water suppliers and discovered the more forest cover in a watershed, the fewer dollars suppliers must spend on treatment costs. For every 10% increase in the source area’s forest cover, treatment and chemical costs decreased approximately 20%.

We can estimate reduced health care costs. With clean air and access to open space, people are more likely to get out and recreate. This is important in light of the recent increase in obesity among children and adults that results in many diseases and conditions the treatment of which were estimated nationally to cost $117 billion in 2000.  A group of studies reviewed in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine showed that “creation of or enhanced access to places for physical activity combined with informational outreach” produced a 48% increase in the frequency of physical activity. 

We can estimate economic activity generated. The National Association of State Park Directors reports that visitors to state parks across America in 2009 contributed $20 billion to local and state economies, an significant return on investment given that overall budget expenditure nationwide is less than $2.3 billion.   According to the National Recreation and Park Association, studies have shown that for every $1 million invested in parks and recreation infrastructure, at least 20 jobs are created.

Among the top five employers in Central Oregon in 2010 and 2011 were Sunriver Resort, Mt. Bachelor, St. Charles Health System and Bright Wood Corporation, a wood products company.  All depended on protection of open space and forests, and more importantly, a certain quality of life is expected by their employees and customers.

How do we ensure the growth of key sectors of our economy and protect environmental and social benefits of land conservation here in Central Oregon? We must continue to invest in local conservation organizations.  We must continue to invest in businesses that support our growing outdoor-based communities.  We must continue to thoughtfully expand our economy in areas that directly relate to the very reason many of us call Central Oregon home – because of our collective love affair with the land. 

Read the full article.
Gillian Ockner is an environmental economist, board member of the Deschutes Land Trust, and CEO of Gillian Ockner Consulting.

Signs of Spring at Whychus Canyon Preserve

Eva Eagle reflects on her first hike of spring.


By Eva Eagle

On April 9, I had the pleasure to help Mary Crow lead a Land Trust hike at Whychus Canyon Preserve. The route is sometimes known as the ‘mountain goat walk,’ thanks to a few steep sections where having four feet might be quite helpful. Our group, a full complement of guests and leaders, had no problem with the terrain but respected its difficulty as we made our way down the steep canyon trail.

With the late arrival of spring, this was a welcome hike.  We were favored with a mild day after many stormy ones, yet it was still fairly cool as we descended into the canyon. The signs of spring were subtle--flickers drumming in the treetops, Idaho fescue bunches showing new green close to the earth, sand lily leaves poking through the sandy soil, and a few tiny gold star flowers among the dust. Whychus Creek was flowing rapidly, no doubt too rapidly for the health of the fish that would like more friendly habitat, but the sound alongside our canyon bottom trail was delightful.

Mary knows Whychus Canyon Preserve well, and we were favored with her observations about everything from geology to flowers to badgers to knapweed. We enjoyed watching the aerial displays of tree swallows near the western rimrock, then the more pedestrian, but still very colorful “Rock Doves” (aka “Feral Pigeons”), as they explored possible nest sites. 

Strolling along the creek was pleasant indeed, and it was all too soon that we were heading back up to the canyon rim. This is truly a mountain goat-like section of trail, often testing the stride length of short folk like myself. Then we spread out on The Boulders to enjoy lunch with a view.  As if the canyon and the mountains weren’t enough, we also watched the steady upstream flight of a bald eagle and the circling of turkey vultures above the opposite wall of the canyon.

Of course, once at The Boulders we still had two miles to go to the trailhead, starting with an uphill slog. But the footing was good, the sun was out, and the old growth trees were beautiful. Drawing close to the gate, we looked over remnants of an old homestead and made up stories about some of the artifacts we saw.  Before long we were heading out the gate and back up the road to our cars, pleasantly tired and relaxed after our five mile loop.

Thank you Mary!  And thanks to Karen, Ehrhard, Elke, David, Andy, Dwayne, Greg, Jodi, Jean, … for making this hike a great First of the Season for me.


Love 'em or Lose 'em

Consider a gift to protect special places this Valentines Day.

February is the month for petite chocolates in pretty boxes, glitter-clad cards and saying “I love you” with breakfasts in bed or dinners out on the town.  On the day that celebrates love in all its forms, how about recognizing the places as well as the people who warm our hearts?  

In your mind, recall an image of a place outdoors where you felt completely relaxed, with beautiful views, wildflowers in bloom, or maybe a creek burbling past.  Just thinking about it brings a sigh to your lips and the thought, “I wish I was there right now.”  If our experiences make us who we are, then special places become a part of us in more than just our memories.  

Here at the Land Trust, protecting special places is part of what we do.  We understand the important connections between individuals and the place we call home.  Help us protect special places in Central Oregon by becoming a member of the Deschutes Land Trust.  Share your feelings of love and affection for the places you care about: for wildlife, scenic views and local communities.  The gift of land just keeps on giving!





Sitting in a Meadow

How does it feel to see Camp Polk Meadow recovering, reunited with the stream that created it? Executive Director Brad Chalfant shares his thoughts.

It's been nearly 15 years since I first walked Camp Polk Meadow and in so many ways, it feels like a lifetime ago.  Then it was a beautiful, but obviously damaged piece of land.  At the time, I walked the meadow with a deep pit in my stomach, wondering if we could possibly find a way to protect and restore it.  Today, with its new scars still fresh, the meadow is clearly blemished, but its well on its way back to health.  Someone asked me the other day how it felt to see something that you've worked on for so many years, lost countless sleepless nights over and dreamed endlessly about - how does it feel to see it recovering, reunited with the stream that created it?  

Whychus Creek during the final phase of restoration, 2011.  Photo: Jay Mather.
Whychus Creek during the final phase of restoration, 2011. Photo: Jay Mather.
Whychus Creek during the final phase of restoration, 2011. Photo: Jay Mather.

The pat answer is that it feels great, it feels satisfying.  However, the real answer, the honest answer is a lot more complicated.  The truth is that as great as it is to sit in the meadow on this abnormally warm, late winter day, alongside the newly remeandered channel, watching a flock of western blue birds and listening to the whistle of red wing blackbirds... my mind is filled with thoughts of what remains to be done.  There are weeds to pull, more willows and alder to plant, beavers to cajole up the creek to head of the meadow, roads to seed, and scars to heal.  And that's just here at Camp Polk Meadow.  My mind isn't still at all, but is racing with thoughts of the next acquisition, the removal of derelict structures, the next remeandering project, the next thinning, the next weed to pull.

No, if I'm honest with myself, while it does feel great to finally see Whychus Creek winding through Camp Polk Meadow, I know that I let go of the meadow some time ago.  It's not mine - it belongs to all who've given a part of themselves to help restore it and to be sure, there are many.  Acknowledging my restless nature and that we have so much work to do, what's mine - what belongs to me is the joy of knowing that there are more Camp Polk Meadows ahead of us, more forests to thin, more trees to plant and more people to share this work with. 

A peek into the nightstand

Find out which books Land Trust staff are reading and share your recommendations.

“To read is to fly: it is to soar to a point of vantage which gives a view over wide terrains of history, human variety, ideas, shared experience and the fruits of many inquiries.” 
- A C Grayling, Financial Times (in a review of A History of Reading by Alberto Manguel)

Reading is at once a social and individual pursuit.  Here at the Land Trust, staff often share books and it is not uncommon for a book to make its way around most of the office before being handed down to begin a journey with another reader.  Sharing books is a rewarding way to pass along something you've enjoyed with others and to be inspired by new topics.  With that in mind, here is a short list of books recently or currently being read here at the office. 

Tell us, what are you reading?

Wild Play: Parenting Adventures in the Great Outdoors by David Sobel.
Long before Richard Louv, David Sobel was advocating for place-based environmental education as a way to cure what ails kids today. I’ve always appreciated his approach for its place-basedness and for his link to age appropriate activities for kiddos.   Sarah says: "I have long admired David and it was fun to read a personal story of how he raised his kids. Now to implement some of those things with my kids!" 

Sheri recently re-read Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and is currently reading Take Me With You by Brad Newsham.  "It's really good and highly recommended!"

The last book Lisa finished was Outlander, the first book in a series by Diana Gabaldon.  She says, "I LOVED it and will read the rest of the series once I’m done with Hunger Games (currently reading and LOVING it!), first of a 3-book series by Suzanne Collins.  Both are must-reads!"

Associate Director Zak Boone has two books pending: The Girl Who Played with Fire and Shantaram.  "I’ve read Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, so need to get to #2 and my wife strongly recommended Shantaram."

Amanda, our intrepid stewardship director says she is working her way through The Owl and the Woodpecker by Paul Bannick.  "I went to his talk at the Environmental Center awhile back and have talked to him about maybe coming out to the Metolius Preserve to look for great horned owls and white-headed woodpeckers.  I'm also picking my way thru Daniel's Running Formula by Jack Daniels, PhD., mostly looking for tips on training for a half marathon and triathlon.  And when I've got a spare moment (so I'm only on page 5) I leaf through Trees and Logs Important to Wildlife in the Interior Columbia River Basin, recommended by our forestry consultant Darin Stringer."

And Outreach Associate Karyn Verzwyvelt says the most recent book she read was The Path is the Goal by Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche along with her school textbooks, which she can't find any takers for in the inter-office reading circle.

 What is sitting in your nightstand?



The rite of Alder Springs

Alder Springs calls me. Nearly every year for at least the last eight years, I've taken my first hike of the spring to the place where spring comes first--Alder Springs in the Crooked River National Grasslands.

Alder Springs calls me. Nearly every year for at least the last eight years, I've taken my first hike of the spring to the place where spring comes first--Alder Springs in the Crooked River National Grasslands. Last year it was on a Land Trust geology hike. The year before with my newborn daughter. Before that with my son in my belly. Before that with my husband or friends. Why do I feel drawn there each spring? Because sun, warmth, and wildflowers can nearly always be found there, even when it is still snowing in Bend!

This year I made the trek with my husband once again--a sweetly gifted day--thanks Grandma and Grandad! We hit the trailhead late on a crazy 80 degree spring day that really felt like summer. I had forgotten that this part of the Grasslands burned last year fall, completely changing the face of this hike. The few trees that lined the trail down into the Whychus Creek Canyon are now charred black skeletons providing little shade or shelter for wildlife. But the ground around those burned trees was a vivid green--already showing signs of renewal and recovery.


We skirted the top of the canyon enjoying the few early spring flowers dotting the sagebrush flats. First gold fields, Crocidium multicaule, tiny yellow flowers carpeting the bare soil and adding some sun to the scene. Then, prairie star, Lithophragma parviflorum, with its sweet little white-pink flowers and sand lilies, Leucocrinum montanum, with their bright white flowers soaking in the sunshine. Finally a yellow bell, Fritillaria pudica, bravely open on the side of the trail, adding more yellow to the landscape. It's these early flowers, though small and easy to miss, that I look for each year to lift my spirits and convince me that spring will come.

As we descended down the steep trail to Whychus Creek and to the springs itself, we were surprised to find that the fire had burned right down to the creek. Large elderberry and alder  bushes completely burned and even an old ponderosa pine. Surprisingly the interpretive sign that some brave soul must have carried down there survived. We crossed the cold and swift Whychus Creek and continued our way downstream relieved to find less fire damage as hiked.  

We ate our lunch at the confluence of Whychus Creek and the Deschutes River, enjoying the loud roar of the water and the shade of the old ponderosa pines. Refueled and refreshed, we began the 3 mile trek back to our cars catching shade where we could and dipping our hats in the creek to stay cool. An arrowleaf balsamroot, Balsamorhiza sagitta, caught our eye, just starting to bloom in the sheltered nook of a rock. We were also amazed by some large logjams on the creek that must of accumulated during the winter. We could only imagine what fish might be hiding there!

AlderSprings post fire2012
AlderSprings post fire2012
AlderSprings post fire2012

The cold creek crossing felt wonderful on the return trip giving us a refreshing break before the final ascent. Though we were hot and ready to head home, we stopped along the way to admire a bright blue western bluebird and listen to its song. Relieved to see the car, we nearly missed the most showy flower of the day a dagger pod, Phoenicaulis cheiranthoides, with bright purple flowers hidden in the cleft of a rock right at the trailhead. We hopped in the car, blasted the air conditioning, guzzled some water and started talking about our next trip to Alder Springs. How would this landscape recover from the fire? Recovery had clearly begun, but what would follow? More flowers? Morels? How would it look next year? Guess we'll have to see...



One month later, Whychus Creek and Camp Polk at home

Now that Whychus Creek is once again running through the meadow and final construction work is complete, Camp Polk Meadow is changing everyday.

One month ago, the Land Trust and our restoration partners, redirected the full flow of Whychus Creek back into Camp Polk Meadow for the first time in 47 years. It was a historic day full of excitement as the restored channel filled with water and took to its new home. Watch the videos and slideshows from that day!

The water redirection also marked the first day of three weeks of construction designed to finish the restoration project. After stranded fish were rescued from the old Whychus Creek channel, crews filled the creekbed with the giant dirt and rock plugs that have been stored in the meadow for the past three years. Goodbye dirt stock piles, hello new plugs soon to be seeded with native plants. Crews also excavated final side channels, distributed more trees across the floodplain, and removed all access roads created during the construction. Finally, the entire meadow is now free of bridges and culverts! Fish and water can move about unrestricted.

Apart from the final construction work, Whychus Creek is really beginning to make itself at home in the meadow. Visible changes we're already seeing include:

  • Nice clear water with good gravels! After the initial rush of silty water, the creek's gravels have been sorting themselves and the streambed is already in excellent condition.
  • The underlying water table has risen quickly and dramatically--exceeding our expectations. This means more wetlands, more side channels (new ones the creek has already made!), and more of the mature vegetation along the retired channel will survive. 
  • Eagles and elk have been sighted regularly.
  • 30,000 Chinook fry were released into the new channel in early March.
  • Reband trout have already been seen making redds (spawning beds) in the new channel!
  • The beaver have been extremely busy moving into their new home and rearranging things to their liking. Construction crews actually watched a beaver felling trees and swimming around in the new channel!
  • A wide variety of waterfowl can be spotted on any given day, hanging around Duckett Pond and in the restored channel. All the meanders in the new creek have slowed down the water, giving the ducks a chance to paddle about in the main stream--something they weren’t able to do when the old channel was one long series of rapids.

A huge thanks to all the folks who have helped with this restoration project! Many of them have been at Camp Polk the last three weeks working 10 hour days (in wind, snow, rain), 6-7 days/week: Partney Construction crews (highly skilled people that care a lot about the quality of their work and have been with us from phase 1, day 1). Paul Powers and Cari Press (Deschutes National Forest's technical team, and our project masterminds). thanks to all our bird survey volunteers who have been dodging equipment to keep our surveys current. And, of course, thanks to the Upper Deschutes Watershed Council, the Land Trust's restoration partner without whom none of this would have possible.

The photos below show some of the changes in the meadow since the water was redirected. Click on each image to make it bigger.

MAW_CPM redirect
gm_steelhead releases_lowermdw. CPMlower_mdw no piles

Planned Giving: Common Questions

In an effort to help demystify the world of planned giving, we've provided some answers to common planned giving questions...

In an effort to help demystify the world of planned giving, the Land Trust has provided some answers to common planned giving questions, but first, what is planned giving? It is a method of supporting non-profits and charities that enables individuals to make larger gifts than they could make from their income. In contrast your annual gift to an non-profit may be budgeted for, but not necessarily planned. Often planned gifts are referred to as such because they require more planning, negotiation and counsel than many other gifts.

Here Land Trust member and attorney John Sorlie has provided some answers to common planned giving questions.


What tax advantages are available when considering planned giving?

  • There is a charitable deduction from the estate tax, so every dollar given to charity upon your death reduces the size of your estate and avoids estate taxes on the dollars given away.
  • If done during your lifetime, you’ll receive an income tax deduction in the year the gift is given, and to the extent the deduction cannot be fully utilized, it can be carried forward for up to five years.  Lifetime charitable giving also reduces the size of your estate so would accomplish the same estate tax objectives as charitable giving at death.

Should I give to a charity while alive or only at my death?
Lifetime giving can be very rewarding because you can see the benefits of the gift while you are alive.  Also, if you have a history of being involved in a charity while you are alive, the charity will be aware of your particular charitable inclinations and you can better direct where the funds should be used.  It’s more difficult for the charity to make those decisions if a gift is left at death and the charity has no history with the person donating.  Lifetime gifts are not always financially possible for everyone, and you should consider a lifetime gifting plan only if you have sufficient assets to support yourself for the remainder of your life.  It’s beneficial to review your financial situation with a trusted advisor before making significant lifetime gifts.

What are some of the common methods of planned giving?

There are a variety of ways to make a planned charitable gift. The most common forms are:

  • Direct gifts such as gifts of stock, cash, or real estate to a charity.
  • Lifetime gifts that reserve a benefit to the donor.  These include gift annuities and charitable remainder trusts where the donor receives an income stream after the gift is made.
  • Gift of a qualified plan such as IRA or 401(k) account.  These accounts hold pretax money so if left to a family member upon your death, the family member will be obligated to pay income tax on the amounts withdrawn from the account.  In addition, the entire account is included as part of your estate for estate tax purposes.  If given to a charity, the account passes to the charity free of income tax.  In addition, it will qualify for the charitable deduction for the estate tax.  So, the tax that would be due if these accounts are left to a family member could be avoided if left to a charity.
  • Through a private foundation or donor advised fund.  These are gifts made through a fund or foundation established by the donor, who then makes annual or testamentary gifts through this organization.  This is a good way to involve children and grandchildren in the donation process to help instill a culture of charitable giving within the family.


From: John D. Sorlie
Estate planning attorney
Bryan, Lovlien & Jarvis, PC

Connecting our children to the earth... begins in our backyard

How do you instill an environmental ethic—that willingness to care for our natural world—in your children?


With summer comes a renewed urge to get outside and play; if you’re like many Central Oregonians you already spend a lot of time outdoors. Whether it’s skiing in the winter or camping in the summer, we Central Oregonians love to get outside and include our kids of all ages. While spending time outside goes a long way towards connecting our children to the earth, how do you instill an environmental ethic—that willingness to care for our natural world—in your children? How do you marry the time spent outside and teaching our children to love and respect the earth?

The first step is to get outside regularly to play together—more often than annual camping trips or sledding days. Study after study has shown that kids today don’t spend enough time outside. This doesn’t mean you have to craft fancy trips to tropical places to study endangered species. Go really local. Play outside in your backyard, your local dirt pile, or empty lot. Explore what makes your backyard yours. This is especially important in early childhood (2-6ish) when developmentally children need only to explore the “outside” that is within the comfort of home. They feel safe and brave because they know this world and you are close by to help them explore. Together you can make fairy houses out of pine needles and bark, float leaf boats on puddles, plant seeds, dig tunnels, get comfortable being and playing outside. You can even give over a section of your yard to your kids. Let them collect the flotsam and jetsam of life and build forts with it. One messy corner can be the springboard for worlds of wonder for your children.

From your yard, and as your children grow, explore wild places near home. We are so fortunate in Central Oregon to have nature very nearby—even in our city parks and playgrounds. On your daily walks to the park or playground take some time to explore the wild side of a park with your children. You may not notice it now, but many of our favorite parks have (intentionally or not) those untended parts where little bits of nature flourish. Just a few feet from the Reed Market playground is the entrance to the Larkspur Trail—a winding little trail that goes clear to Pilot Butte and follows a perfect kid-sized creek (read irrigation canal) with some of the native plants and critters that live along it.  The Old Mill playground is right at the entrance to our amazing Deschutes River trail. Stray from the climbing walls and slides and find otters, ducks, geese, songbirds and hordes of other kid-friendly watchable wildlife. Or, go to the uber nature park in Bend—Shevlin Park—and walk along Tumalo Creek, listen for woodpeckers, or scamper along downed logs.  My family’s favorite “playground” is a local park with no play structures but rather perfect trees for climbing, lava rock
Zoe wildflower
Zoe wildflower
Zoe wildflower
piles for exploring, and space for roaming free and untethered. 

Whatever your wild side, take the time to intentionally explore these areas regularly with your children. Be their guide in nature. I think as our children get older and start to ask more questions we get nervous that we don’t know all the answers. We feel like we have to be a biologist to be a good nature guide, right? Wrong. You don’t have to know all the answers, but rather you need to help them notice the little things, ask the right questions, and then find the answers together.  What does a ponderosa pine smell like on a warm day? Why does it smell like that? Will lava rock float or sink? Why?

Finally when you’re ready to venture beyond your neighborhood, join an “expert” on a guided nature walk for kids. Preschoolers can join Mary Yanalcanlin from the East Cascades Audubon Society for free Preschool Birding each Monday (year-round) in Drake Park. Older children (5-12 yr olds) can join the Deschutes Land Trust from May-October for a variety of free nature walks for kids at local nature preserves. On Land Trust walks trained naturalists like Karen Parker and Mary help you and your children get wet with water bugs, hide out on a camouflage hike, or take an eco-adventure in Skyline Forest. And those are just a couple of the local options! Regardless of who you join, watch how they lead your kids on a hike. How do they encourage exploration and discovery? Which tricks can you try when you are out next? Then, go try them on your next camping trip!

Connecting your children to nature can be a fun journey for the whole family. While it doesn’t have to be in exotic wild places, it does have to be intentional and often and with a guide—the best one, a parent. Together we can help our children explore nature, learn about nature, and one day hopefully work to protect it.

Learn more about Preschool Birding at www.ecbcbirds.org. Get the full slate of Deschutes Land Trust hikes for kids at www.deschuteslandtrust.org.

The allure of Rimrock Ranch: a volunteer's perspective

Kelly Madden, a volunteer with the Deschutes Land Trust, shares her experience on a recent geology hike at Rimrock Ranch.


By Kelly Madden
June 2012

Kelly Madden, a volunteer with the Deschutes Land Trust, shares her experience on a recent hike at Rimrock Ranch. Rimrock Ranch is a privately-owned 1,120 acre ranch near Sisters with outstanding fish and wildlife habitat, pine forests, productive ranchland and fascinating geologic history. 

Never in a million geologic years would I guess, high on the hoodoo, a pack rat has a nest. Nor could I imagine an intelligent discussion about the merits of a purple dwarf monkey flower. So many things to learn and see on our recent outing on a beautiful Friday morning at Rimrock Ranch.

I knew we were in luck when I met Gayle Baker, the owner of the ranch. Her open face, framed by majestic Mt. Jefferson, clear blue eyes, and welcoming smile made us feel immediately at ease. With grace she welcomed us and shared HER ranch with us- mere strangers from all parts Oregon. Mary Crow, our fearless leader, was organized, knowledgeable and clearly in control; I knew we were in for a great adventure.

Though the outing was technically a geology hike, we had the rare treat of many wonderful experts willing to share their knowledge.  Our group included a volcano expert (Danielle McKay), sedimentary rock expert (Janet Brown), geophysicist (Derek Loeb), wildflower whiz (Mary Crow) and ME. I am a newbie and a volunteer hike shepard.  I have NO real area of expertise, except a bit of knowledge about local history, an intense curiosity about the past and a desire to help preserve creeks, rivers, land, wagon roads, blazes and buildings.   

I particularly enjoyed seeing older structures on the ranch. At the bottom of the hill, entering into the lower meadow, there is an original homestead outbuilding with joists and lintels still intact, and hand hewn shingles still clinging to the hundred year old roof. Further down the lane, I was fascinated by a newer cabin. Amazing that a cabin built in the early 1980’s takes its cue from cabins before it. The construction and interior could have been built in 1908, 1948, 1988... it's all the same. Timeless. Checking out the buildings, I wasn’t looking FOR anything. I was trying to understand the building and read the landscape, the way some folks look at wildflowers or animal tracks. I am intrigued by structures and the people who create them.

On the road to the high meadow, we encountered MANY wildflowers... Oregon sunshine, rough eyelash weed, sulpher flower, arrowleaf balsamroot, giant buckwheat, yarrow, salsify’s exploding giant and dangerous puff, the lowly penstemon, wood rose, phacleia, clarkia, popcorn flower, granite gilla and a couple big elderberry bushes (to name just a few!). We proceeded to the lower meadow, stopping under the deep cool shade of old junipers and pines to rest on top of the dry summer smell of pine needles. Mary was great about finding shade patches!! I am inclined to believe the shade under old junipers is cooler than shade produced by a ponderosa. What do you think? There weren’t a lot of birds in the canyon at midday, although we did see a Pinyon jay, flicker and a few magpies. 

The outing had two highlights for me.  The first was our time spent with Gayle by the banks of Whychus Creek, eating delicious pound cake, coffee cake and fruit, provided so graciously by Gayle and Ocho the dog, Gayle's four legged ambassador to the property.  My own dog, Louie, the 14 ½ year king of my heart had been put to sleep only six days prior.  I felt like Ocho knew I was missing my little guy as he settled his stinky self right into my lap for belly rubs, ear scratches and a love exchange!! That made my heart feel peace and somehow tasted better than the cake!!

The second highlight was the geology, in particular, the rock pinnacle at the bottom of the hill. Walking down the hill, we had a great view of Skyline Forest, Three Creek Butte and Tam MacArthur Rim. We saw no snakes, no ticks and the sky was blue, blue. Then, at the bottom... the hoodoo.  The pinnacle is like a giant forearm jutting into the sky. Dividing the rock almost in half is a layer of cobbled darker rock, perhaps part of a pyroclastic flow?  The darker band looks like a bracelet on the arm of rock. Derek Loeb commented: “This tuff hoodoo has a relatively thin, but prominent, rounded and well-sorted cobble deposit.” I thought it looked like a tattoo. High up the face, in a crack, what looks like black moss is really pack rat droppings... a packrat's nest.  I thank Janet Brown for calling my attention to this extremely cool feature. 

The best part of the hike for me was walking up the hill at the end with all these experts. For me there is nothing better than combining fantastic informal education with exercise, the outdoors and interesting people, all with the aim of preserving and protecting resources so future generations can have the same experience.

Photo Blog: Spring at Deschutes Land Trust protected lands

Take a visual tour of several Land Trust protected lands as spring unfolds.


Enjoy this springtime tour via the window below, or view in your browser here. Be sure to click "show info" to turn on the captions.


Quilting for Camp Polk Meadow

The Land Trust is partnering with the National Forest Foundation and the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show on a remarkable project called the Quilt for Two Rivers. See one quilt for Camp Polk and watch a video from the artist.

Last fall the Land Trust took a group of quilters out to Camp Polk Meadow Preserve to show them the work being done to restore the meadow.

Water Wonders

To do the Mud Dance you wriggle to the left and wriggle to the right. But instead of moving smoothly across the dance floor...

To do the Mud Dance you wriggle to the left and wriggle to the right. But instead of moving smoothly across the dance floor, you slowly extricate yourself from the mud holding your feet hostage. Wiggling, it turns out, is much more effective than panicking and yanking or so says Karen Parker, our guide for the Water Wonders Walk at Camp Polk Meadow Preserve

Karen gave this sage advice to a gaggle of kids ranging from age 2.5-8, before sending them off into a slightly muddy side channel of Whychus Creek. Armed with nets large and small, their goal was to find water bugs and other critters and bring them back to Karen for a sharing circle. The kids headed towards the water--some jumping in gleefully, others gently testing the waters with one toe. (My Will was a tentative one who instead sent Mommy knee high into the water!)

CPM_water wonders_bug box
CPM_water wonders_bug box
CPM_water wonders_bug box

Mud turned out not to be plentiful, but the bugs were. Calls began to ring out from the kids along the waters edge "I found a long, slimy one!" "This is that wriggly one!" Occasionally, we'd hear "We found a beetle!" "Dragonfly larvae!" I don't think I've ever seen kids so excited about bug hunting! In fact, it took some cajoling for Karen to call the group back in from their eager hunting so we could actually look at the critters and see what we found.

Once we settled into a circle, we learned about diving beetles that keep air bubbles under their arms and use them to breathe under water. We used magnifying boxes to check out dragonfly nymph that looked enough like an adult that you could just imagine them turning into a beautiful, shimmery flying creature. Karen showed pictures of the adult version of some of the critters and told stories to help us relate to them better. Mostly we just enjoyed learning about the entire world of critters that live in the little ponds or backwaters of our local creeks. The Mud Dance wasn't needed, but I think we all left thinking water was indeed wondrous!

Coming Home: The first salmon returns

Given the hundreds if not thousands of people who've worked for nearly two decades to see this day come, it was a decidedly small crowd that greeted the release of the first wild adult salmon into the upper Deschutes Basin in 47 years.


Round Butte Dam, Lake Billy Chinook:
by Brad Chalfant

Given the hundreds if not thousands of people who've worked for nearly two decades to see this day come, it was a decidedly small crowd that greeted the release of the first wild adult salmon into the upper Deschutes Basin in 47 years.  Having spent yesterday walking a newly restored Camp Polk Meadow and today watching the heroic return of the region's most iconic species, it truly feels like we've come full circle.

For the six adult spring chinook it was probably just another step in an amazing odyssey that saw them released as inch long fry in streams like Lake Creek on the Metolius Preserve and Whychus Creek on Camp Polk Meadow Preserve, grow to six inch smolt at which point adolescent wanderlust launched them on a 2-3,000 mile journey down the Deschutes and Columbia rivers to the north Pacific and back as the full grown, powerful fish of fishermen's fantasies and native lore.   

For the humans in attendance it was clearly a more profound moment.   As PGE's Julie Keil remarked, the day was truly a milestone for her company, the people of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, the Oregon Dept. of Fish & Wildlife and countless other public agencies.  And as Julie pointed out, the day highlighted a remarkable partnership among community-based organizations like the Deschutes Land Trust, Deschutes River Conservancy (our homegrown water trust) and the Upper Deschutes Watershed Council and Crooked River Watershed Council, each of which is working to restore and protect the critical habitat that these fabled fish will need.

As both Bobby Brunoe of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs and Amy Stuart of Oregon Dept. of Fish & Wildlife pointed out, this day is of great spiritual and cultural significance and represents an effort that we undertake for our children and grandchildren. Much work remains and neither we, nor these very special salmon are truly home yet, but today we took a very large step forward.