Each year, thousands of people visit Central Oregon. Why? Festivals, fun activities, good food, and of course an abundance of natural beauty all draw folks to our home cities of Bend, Sisters, Redmond and Sunriver. Those of us that live here are lucky. Our hometowns have one of the best backyards in the nation: the Cascade Mountains, the Badlands Wilderness of the high desert, the forest lands around the Deschutes River, and the Three Sisters Wilderness area. But despite this beauty and abundance, not everyone cares for the land.
On a recent sunset hike up Three Creek Butte in Skyline Forest, I was not surprised to get to the top of the butte and find an old computer and monitor that had been dropped off there and used as shotgun "target practice." Although I was not surprised, the question still remained: "why?" Was it fun, exciting, a rush? Did it make someone feel powerful or help them forget a bad day? Why would someone go to a beautiful spot and leave it covered in toxic litter for someone else to find? No one in our group had an answer.
Skyline Forest is a big part of Bend's Backyard. At 33,000 acres, you could plop the Three Sisters down inside its boundaries and its green tree tops make up the view almost all the way to the Three Sisters. The Land Trust has been working to protect this piece of property since 2005 and turn it into a community forest, ensuring that the land and forests are protected and cared for forever. From the looks of things on the butte, a little TLC would be a very good thing indeed.