2017 Blog Posts

3 resolutions for the New Year

Haven't made a resolution for 2017 yet? Here are 3 ideas that can get you started.

Hiking at Whychus Canyon Preserve. Photo: Tyler Roemer.
Hiking at Whychus Canyon Preserve. Photo: Tyler Roemer.

It's a new year, and for some, that means making a resolution to follow for the next 365 days. If the idea of packing into a crowded gym isn't your cup of tea, or if you are struggling to come up with something that lights your fire, make the Land Trust a part of your resolution this year! Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Get to know us better:
Join us for Nature Nights, or when our Walks + Hikes resume in the spring, resolve to attend a few. We have an amazing crew of volunteers and staff that are experts at sharing their love and knowledge of the natural world. We have a variety of topics that are sure to draw your attention. Bookmark our events page to prepare!

Explore our protected lands:
The Land Trust owns and manages a number of Preserves that are open to the public. Choose one (or two!) and get outside! Our Preserves have something new to experience every season, and these special places offer wonderful ways to connect with the land and build a sense of place within you. Pick a Preserve and get to know it. Send us photos of your experiences and tell us how the land inspired you!

The Land Trust offers many volunteer opportunities throughout the year. If you would like to give back to the land, fill out our volunteer form or come see us at the Deschutes Public Library's Know Volunteering Expo January 22nd, and let us know your interests. Then, sign up for the opportunities that interest you most. You will meet wonderful people, and be protecting and caring for land in Central Oregon!

Whatever you resolve for 2017, we hope you will get to know your Land Trust better. We look forward to getting to know you!

Book Review: On Trails, by Robert Moor

Guest writer, Andrew Goldstein reviews the book "On Trails," by Robert Moor.

The Land Trust's January Nature Night shines a light on trails—their design and construction, and our love of them. To prepare for the talk, our guest writer, Andrew Goldstein, offers his thoughts on a book about trails and nature written by author Robert Moor, titled, On Trails.

by Andrew Goldstein

Guest reviewer, Andrew Goldstein. Photo: Submitted.
Guest reviewer, Andrew Goldstein. Photo: Submitted.
It didn’t take long for me to realize that this wasn’t the book that I thought it would be. But that is no knock on Robert Moor’s “On Trails.” Quite the contrary.

While reading Moor’s book, I found myself contemplating the purpose and nature of essays. This book is really a series of well-crafted essays that may be read alone, but are richer when taken together. A good essay wanders, but does so consciously and thoughtfully, like, perhaps, a good trail. Moor frequently draws us into a specific world—of ants and elephants, hikers and highways—but he does so with the freedom of a walker. Moor’s writing retains enough structure to be coherent and enough playfulness and open air to be enjoyable. On Trails takes advantage of its opportunities to roam, to follow asides and side trails to secret nooks of the human mind, while always returning us—with a mind full of thoughtful analysis, facts, and science—to the matter originally at hand.

What makes Moor’s book successful—as with many successful works of non-fiction—is his blending of cold, hard facts and personalized details. Moor begins the book with his own journey along the Appalachian Trail, which created the idea for this book, then moves on to the scientific world of prehistoric life forms and fossils. Moor reworks elements of timeless themes into a new vision. Part philosophical musing, part scientific inquiry, part travelogue, and part history lesson, we delve into trails both seen and unseen, to gain a broader appreciation for what constitutes a trail. Moor is full of curiosity and he translates his curiosity into a literary forest of ideas that continually reach out to the reader. “To put it as simply as possible,” says Moor, “a path is a way of making sense of the world. There are infinite ways to cross a landscape; the options are overwhelming, and pitfalls abound. The function of a path is to reduce this teeming chaos into an intelligible line.” This is made abundantly clear when Moor strikes out in the Canadian wilderness and quickly loses the trail, his pace slowing to a crawl and his mind second-guessing every decision.

I am first and foremost a reader of novels. If I found the book to be at times dry, it is because I find most such naturalist narratives so. If you like scientific tomes on unexplored aspects of the world, you will like this book. If you like seeking, personal narratives, there are elements of this book that will woo you as well.

Ultimately, the allegory of trails as ways through life is reflected in the book itself. “This book, in its admittedly oblique and winding way, has been a search for the wisdom of trails,” writes Moor. “It is the wisdom required to reach one’s ends while making one’s way across an unknown landscape…” In that sense, it is up to the reader to carry the thread that Moor creates out into the world. We are all on a trail through life, trying to determine the best path. Do we go the way others have, or try to blaze a new trail with possibly greater rewards?

Moor is undoubtedly thorough. He has done his research and it is apparent that he has taken ample time to bring his ideas to maturity. By the end of the book, one is left with the feeling that it had to be like this. Moor begins at the beginning because, as human beings in the world (and in time), we are at the mercy of circumstance. Moor shows that our trail building does not stand alone. Trails intersect, they join, they branch off to form newer, more efficient and more beautiful paths. Ours is a journey that is woven together with the world’s many other trail builders. Moor paints a world where the web is made visible, and thankfully, explained. His is a wisdom we need.

This is Robert Moor’s first book, and bearing that in mind, it is an impressive success. One can only hope to bring a little of Moor’s intelligence, curiosity, and attention to detail on one’s next journey, whether it be on the trail or out in the greater world at large.

Learn more:

Andrew Goldstein volunteers for the Deschutes Land Trust and is an avid user of trails in Central Oregon.


Your Life on Trails

Nature Night presenter John Schubert, helps you prepare for your life on trails - and gives you some ideas to help get through the winter of 2017!

by John Schubert

Get outside this winter. Photo: John Schubert.
Get outside this winter. Photo: John Schubert.
At the Tower Theatre on January 31, I'll be speaking about “My Life on Trails,” as part of the Deschutes Land Trust Nature Nights series, but far more important is to use this blustery winter to prepare for your life on trails! In this post I’ll share some websites to help you do just that, as well as suggest some great books and videos to curl up with this winter.

Leave No Trace
With Central Oregon’s population growing so rapidly, it is essential that we learn to have less impact, so that our trails and wild lands remain as pristine as possible. I encourage a quick review of Leave No Trace principles, or LNT, as many refer to it. I am a big fan of Dave Collin’s Clever Hiker website and suggest his lively LNT video. From there you can link to the rest of his insightful videos, including Staying Found, Snake and Cougar Safety, and many others. Though Dave’s focus is on backpacking, most everything he shares is applicable to day hiking.

Another great series of very short videos on best LNT practices is available from Friends of Cedar Mesa, stewards of our newest National Monument, Bears Ears NM in SE Utah!  Though the videos focus on Utah slick rock, the principles apply equally to the Oregon high desert and canyons, such as lower Whychus Creek — as well as our forest and alpine landscapes. Take a look at all the incisive videos, especially “Leave All Artifacts” and “Avoid Building Cairns”. My favorite is about trekking poles! In addition to the damage that the metal tips can do to archeological sites, unless used carefully, they can also kill plants along trail edges and loosen soil, thus causing erosion and trail widening.  Fortunately there is a simple solution!

The Ten Essentials

Another great way to prepare for the upcoming hiking season is to make sure your pack is ready to go with all the essentials for a safe outing. I think of the Ten Essentials as whatever I’d like to have if I unexpectedly have to spend a night out, especially if I or someone in my group (or another hiker I’ve come across) is injured. In my years on the trails, I’ve spent a few unexpected nights out, and was glad for everything I was carrying.

Further, having what we need and knowing how to use it can eliminate the need for many Search and Rescue (SAR) missions, which endanger and consume precious time of the Sheriff’s office and their volunteers.

Finally, taking a Wilderness First Aid class is a fabulous investment of time to make sure you know how to use a first aid kit and gracefully make it through the unexpected.

Winter Viewing
My favorite source on-line for free outdoor videos is the National Film Board of Canada. My favorite filmmakers there are Leanne Allison and her wildlife biologist/adventurer husband Carsten Heurer. My favorite film of theirs is Being Caribou, a fabulous tale of their migration with the Arctic Caribou Herd.

Following the links at the bottom of that film’s home page will lead you far and wide, including to Finding Farley, a wild tale of an epic journey across Canada with their infant child, to meet their hero author Farley Mowat. Then read some of Mowat’s classic nature books!

Planting along Whychus Creek. Photo: Jay Mather.
Planting along Whychus Creek. Photo: Jay Mather.

Make Plans to Help Steward Central Oregon Lands
Right away, take the Discover Your Forest Survey about the importance to you of Central Oregon National Forests and Crooked River National Grassland! Then, in anticipation of spring and summer’s arrival, leave room in your calendar to join the Land Trust’s inspiring stewardship and volunteer activities: planting restored Whychus Creek meanders, monitoring birds and animals, become a Weed Warrior...

And of course, plan your summer hikes!
Trail Guidebooks: One of my duties as a trails specialist was to help guidebook authors and map makers keep information current for hikers and include Leave No Trace guidance to protect sensitive areas — I still do this in my spare time. William Sullivan’s 100 Hikes/Travel Guide to the Central Oregon Cascades, as well as his guides to other regions of the state, are the very best, by far, for every corner of Oregon. Combined with his Atlas of Oregon Wilderness and a good map, you’ll be set to explore trails from one end of the state to the other. No other guidebook is updated as regularly in consultation with land managers, few other guidebook authors are as concerned about Leave No Trace ethics, and no other author will send you a copy of a book in exchange for sending in corrections.   

Guided Hikes: Of course, Land Trust guided hikes are among the best in Central Oregon. Become a member and you’ll be in the know for all their great hikes and other activities.
Remember, if a hike is full, sign you name to the wait list and mark the day on your calendar. Spots often open up as the hike approaches!

Finally, winter reading!
If you are good to go on your LNT, ten essentials, first aid and summer planning, or just need a relaxing break during a long storm, here are some highlights from my recent reading:

  • On Trails: An Exploration, by Robert Moor. An up and coming writer travels far and wide, literally and figuratively, to explore the deep origins and purpose of trails. 2016. Read a review written by Land Trust volunteer, Andrew Goldstein.

  • Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel, by Carl Safina. One of America’s most esteemed wildlife biologists talks straight about what we know and are just learning about animal intelligence — focuses on Elephants, Wolves, and Orca — the latter two signature creatures of the Pacific Northwest. Very moving. 2015.

  • Biography of a Place: Passages through a Central Oregon Meadow, by Martin Winch.  Central Oregon historian, Martin Winch, explores our rich history and pre-history through the lens of Camp Polk Meadow, one of the Deschutes Land Trust’s flagship preserves. In the telling, the long history of our trails comes into clear focus. 2006.

  • The Invention of Nature:  Alexander Von Humboldt’s New World, by Andrea Wulf. A fascinating account of a Prussian naturalist who changed the world of natural history via his far flung explorations and collaborations. Among those irrevocably changed: John Muir, Charles Darwin, and Henry David Thoreau. Von Humboldt was world renowned in the 19th century, but until this book, all but forgotten in America despite his name all over our maps (several Humboldt counties, a mountain range, a river and an ocean current). 2015.

  • New Era: Reflections on the Human and Natural History of Central Oregon, by Jerold Ramsey. Includes nine essays by a Central Oregon native son, reflecting our our culture and natural world, upon returning after a life away in academia. You’ll never look at our towns, mountains, rivers, canyons or trails the same. Far and away my favorite book about our home. 2003.


My Life on Trails with John Schubert

Trails specialist John Schubert presented our January Nature Night, "My life on trails". Enjoy slides from his presentation and find his suggested resources to learn more about trails, Leave No Trace, and more.

Thanks to those of you who came out to our January 31st Nature Night, My life on trails. It was a great presentation full of fascinating information from trails specialist John Schubert.

 Enjoy the slides from John's presentation below. Then, scroll down for links to resources provided by John about trails, trail etiquette, and how to get involved locally.

If you have trouble viewing the slides below, click here.


Additional resources suggested by John Schubert:

About John Schubert:
John Schubert is a retired trails specialist with the Deschutes National Forest. During his 30 years based in Central Oregon, John designed and supervised construction of many well known local trails including Alder Springs, Tumalo Creek, and upper Whychus Creek. John holds a B.A. from Middlebury College and leads trail building workshops in National Parks and Forest around the country. In his spare time, John, a life-long naturalist, explores the remote corners of Oregon by foot, kayak, ski, and bike, always with books, camera, Irish whistle, and friends to keep him company.


What is a land trust?

Read about the differences between Land Trust protected lands and public lands.

When people first learn about the Deschutes Land Trust, they usually have lots of questions for us. What is a land trust? Are you a governmental organization? What makes you different from the National Forest? Are all of your protected lands open to the public?

We hear you! Here is a guide to general land trust information, plus specific details about the Deschutes Land Trust. By the end of this guide, we hope you’ll be land trust experts!

Whychus Canyon Preserve. Photo: Byron Dudley.
Whychus Canyon Preserve. Photo: Byron Dudley.
Land Trust Background

Land trusts are nonprofit organizations that work cooperatively with landowners towards private, voluntary land conservation. There are approximately 1,700 land trusts in the United States, each geared towards their community’s needs.

Land trusts use a variety of methods to conserve land, one of which is a tool called a land protection agreement or conservation easement. A land protection agreement is a voluntary legal agreement between a land trust and a property owner that limits future industrial, commercial, or residential development on the land in order to protect its conservation values. Land protection agreements are tied to the land, so not only is the original owner subject to the agreement, but all future owners are as well.


Land trust lands vs. public land

In general, there are three things that set land trust lands apart from public lands:

  1. Protected Forever. Land trust lands are protected in perpetuity land protection agreements. In Oregon, the laws concerning these agreements are State Statutes 271.715-271.795.
  2. Private Land. Lands are privately owned, but may be open to the public.
  3. Natural Habitat. Lands trusts tend to prioritize providing key habitat for plants and animals. In addition, land trusts are not governed by the Multiple Use Sustained Yield Act.

According to federal law, land can be conserved through land protection agreements for at least one of four reasons:

  1. Protection of open space (including farmland) for significant public benefit
  2. Protection of relatively natural habitat for fish, wildlife, or plants
  3. Protection of lands for education or outdoor recreation for the general public
  4. Preservation of historically important land or a certified historical structure

Once a land protection agreement has been created, the land trust is responsible for monitoring the lands in accordance with the terms of the agreement. Land trusts can be accredited by the Land Trust Alliance, a national association for land trusts.

Deschutes Land Trust protected lands.
Deschutes Land Trust protected lands.

The Deschutes Land Trust: your local land trust

The Deschutes Land Trust is Central Oregon’s only locally-based and nationally-accredited land trust. Not only do we conserve land through land protection agreements, but we also own and manage Community Preserves.

Each Land Trust protected property has its own management plan that guides conservation, restoration, and public use. We work with a wide variety of private and public partners to conserve these lands including, but not limited to: farmers, ranchers, wildlife management agencies, nonprofits, utilities, and Tribes.

Community Preserves that are open to the public: 

Camp Polk Meadow Preserve

Indian Ford Meadows Preserve 

Metolius Preserve 

Whychus Canyon Preserve

Community Preserves that are only accessible to the public on guided Land Trust tours:
Aspen Hollow Preserve
Metolius River Preserve
Ochoco Preserve

Thomas Preserve
Willow Springs Preserve

Private protected lands (may be accessible on Land Trust guided tours with permission from landowner): 

Aspen Valley Ranch
Coffer Ranch (also known as Bella Ranch)

Rimrock Ranch 

Spring Creek
Trout Creek Conservation Area

A note on Alder Springs: The Land Trust initiated negotiations and partnered with The Trust for Public Land to conserve Alder Springs. Alder Springs is now owned and managed by the Crooked River National Grassland. It is open to the public April 1 – Nov 30.

As you can see, there are a variety of ways the Deschutes Land Trust manages its protected lands. Our website includes information on each property, including the conservation values that are found within the property.

Still have questions? Please feel free to email us at info@deschuteslandtrust.org.


A love letter to Deschutes Land Trust Preserves

With Valentine's Day on the horizon, we turn our sights to the love of our lives: Land Trust Preserves. Here Jana Hemphill counts the ways...

Dearest Land Trust Preserves,

I can’t stress it enough—I love you. It’s undeniable. I love your variety. Each preserve holds something a little different, but taken together, it reminds me of what makes Central Oregon so great, why I’m continually amazed by the beauty around me.

Ribbon of blue at Camp Polk Meadow Preserve. Photo: Russ McMillan.
Ribbon of blue at Camp Polk Meadow Preserve. Photo: Russ McMillan.

Camp Polk Meadow Preserve: You show me the transformative power of restoration work. You remind me of the beauty that a simple ribbon of blue in a sea of green meadow makes. You show the historical significance of a place to me, a Central Oregon transplant. You shower me with amazing bird sightings and a symphony of songs.

Whychus Canyon Preserve:
The smell of your sage and juniper always brings a smile to my face. Your wildflowers cause me joy. I enjoy gazing at Whychus Creek, contemplating the wildlife that is nourished by you. Santiam Wagon Road takes me back to my childhood, imagining I’m a pioneer in a covered wagon. What hardships will befall me? What glorious vistas await?

Mule deer at Indian Ford Meadow Preserve. Photo: Steve Pedersen.
Mule deer at Indian Ford Meadow Preserve. Photo: Steve Pedersen.

Indian Ford Meadow Preserve: You have such a calming spirit. I don’t know a better spot to sit and watch the sunset. You share grand views of the Three Sisters and Black Butte. And maybe it’s just me, but I love watching the deer in your meadow, browsing on sage and slipping through the willows at dusk.

Metolius Preserve: Your cooling waters restore me. I seek out your large Ponderosas, tracing the deep grooves in the bark, smelling the sweet butterscotch. In the fall, I stare in awe at your stands of larch. During the summer, I exclaim in wonder at the varieties of butterflies flitting about.

Aspen Hollow Preserve: I cherish your aspen stands. In the spring, their bright green leaves signify new beginnings. In the fall, their yellow leaves are what I think of when I hear the word ‘autumn.’ I am amazed by your golden eagle nest; your ability to create and sustain new life.

Thomas Preserve: Oh, little island. You are rarely visited, but that doesn’t mean I don’t care about you. I love the feeling of the grasses on your banks. Time slows down when I lay on my back staring at the fluffy white clouds pass by.

Floating to the Thomas Preserve. Photo: John Williams.
Floating to the Thomas Preserve. Photo: John Williams.

Then there is how you make me feel. I know you hear it often, but I feel like I’m home when I’m in nature. All the stress of the workweek melts away. I feel restored. I feel like I can conquer the world again. All you have to do is keep being you.

I don’t know what I would do without you. No, really, I don’t. I promise I won’t take you for granted, that I’ll cherish every moment I’m with you. I’ll pay attention to the small wonders and secrets you show me, and be continually amazed.

They say distance makes the heart grow fonder. And while you are so close, you are inaccessible with these winter snows. I will be patient, but I look forward to seeing you again with your dazzle of wildflowers, fresh larch needles, and gushing creeks.

Yours Forever,
Jana Hemphill


Of amphibians and antifreeze

Winter is harsh for a multitude of species -- humans included. How do amphibians cope when temperatures dip below freezing?

Winter at Camp Polk Meadow Preserve. Photo: Kris Kristovich.
Winter at Camp Polk Meadow Preserve. Photo: Kris Kristovich.

Winter is a harsh season for wild creatures. Temperatures drop, food becomes scarce, and shelter is more difficult to come by. Animals have a variety of ways they can cope--stockpiling food through the fall, burrowing through the snow to take advantage of more stable temperatures below the snowpack, and entering into a deep sleep that is only awakened by the promise of spring.

But what about more aquatic species like frogs? How do they survive the cruel temperatures of winter, when icy waters are unforgiving and freezing air numbs skin in mere seconds? Frogs and toads have a number of strategies for winter survival, but their tactics differ if they are aquatic or terrestrial species.

Pacific tree frog. Photo: Land Trust.
Pacific tree frog. Photo: Land Trust.

Many terrestrial (land-based) frogs live most of their life on land, even during the winter months. Some frogs are excellent diggers and will tunnel their way below the frost line to wait out winter’s chill. Frogs that are not as adept at digging, like the Pacific tree frog, instead seek out deep cracks and crevices in logs or rocks, or burrow as deep as they can in leaf litter. These frogs are more susceptible to freezing, but another defense mechanism can help keep them alive through the harshest conditions--antifreeze!

Frogs can actually freeze solid and ice crystals can form in their bodies, under their skin, and in their bladders. Frogs will stop breathing and their hearts will stop beating, making them appear to be dead. But quite the contrary! High concentrations of glucose (sugar) and sugar-alcohols course through their bodies and protect vital organs and individual cells from freezing. Their bodies begin to wake with the warmer temperatures of spring, returning their organs to normal function so they can begin feeding and breeding.

Aquatic species of frogs, like the Oregon spotted frog, take a different approach to winter survival. Contrary to popular belief, many aquatic frogs do not bury themselves in the mud during the winter months. Aquatic frogs require oxygen-rich water, so they can respire through their permeable skin. They often hibernate at the bottom of ponds, lying on top of the mud or partially burying themselves in it. If frogs completely submerged themselves in the mud, they would suffocate. The rising temperatures of spring warm the water slowly, waking these amphibians from their winter slumber.

Want to know more about amphibians, and the Oregon spotted frog? Join us at our February 22nd Nature Night with biologist Jay Bowerman! Registration is open and seats are still available!

Learn more:


The Oregon spotted frog with Jay Bowerman

Biologist Jay Bowerman presented our February Nature Night on the Oregon spotted frog. Enjoy the slides from his presentation and other resources to help you learn about the Oregon spotted frog.

Thanks to those of you who came out to our February 22nd Nature Night on the Oregon spotted frog. It was a great presentation full of fascinating information about this little frog and it's habitat presented by biologist Jay Bowerman.

 Enjoy the slides from Jay's presentation below. Then, scroll down for links to resources that will help you learn more about the Oregon spotted frog.

If you have trouble viewing the slides below, click here.



Additional Resources:
Oregon spotted frog information from US Fish and Wildlife Service
Amphibians of Oregon, Washington and British Columbia: A Field Identification Guide
How to catch a bullfrog
More information on protecting the species

Jay Bowerman
Jay Bowerman holds a M.S. in biology from University of Oregon where he studied salamander chromosomes. After 20 years as the executive director of the Sunriver Nature Center, Jay has returned to biological research that focuses on amphibian ecology. He is the author of more than twenty journal papers ranging from amphibian deformities to leeches. In recent years Jay has focused on mentoring young scientists while continuing studies of western toads, Oregon spotted frogs, and the impact of introduced species, especially bullfrogs, on native amphibians. In his spare time Jay and his wife Teresa stay involved in a variety of local cultural events such as the Wheeler County Bluegrass Festival and the Hoedown for Hunger at Bend's Community Center. Most recently they have been learning to be grandparents.


Women in Science

March is Women's History Month and we are celebrating all month long by highlighting local women scientists in Central Oregon.

Cari Press at work at Whychus Canyon Preserve. Photo: Land Trust.
Cari Press at work at Whychus Canyon Preserve. Photo: Land Trust.

Happy Women’s History Month!  In honor of all the great women out there, past and present, we’re profiling three local women with a commitment to science.

This week, we are featuring Deschutes National Forest Hydrologist, Cari Press.

1. How did you get interested in working in science?
I was always passionate about environmental issues and wanted a job that allowed me to make an impact while also working outside in nature. My first job in the environmental field was implementing natural resources projects such as trail maintenance, riparian planting, and livestock fence building as an AmeriCorps member. This introduced me to a local soil and water conservation district where I got my next job. Working with landowners to improve watershed conditions got me interested in stream restoration. That’s when I decided to attend graduate school and pursue a degree in hydrology.

2. What is your educational background?
I have a BA in Earth Science and Russian from Trinity University and a MS in Watershed Science from Colorado State University. My thesis was studying the effectiveness of stream restoration projects on the Umatilla National Forest.

3. What are your favorite parts of your current job?
I enjoy reviewing and providing professional input to stream restoration projects around the region as a member of the Regional Restoration Assistance Team.

4. What is a recent project you worked on that you especially enjoyed?
Our design team just completed the first phase of six for a stream and floodplain restoration project on Deschutes Land Trust’s Whychus Canyon Preserve. I feel fortunate to work in areas which allow us to restore natural processes versus simply enhancing habitat or addressing the symptoms of the problem. Our methods are innovative and new to many people, which present many challenges, but also allows us to move the science of stream restoration further along. It is rewarding to be working in this field at such an exciting time.

5. Do you find it challenging to work in the field as a woman?
I didn’t until I had kids. I had gotten used to being the only woman or one of a few women in a room. Now that I have kids, I find it difficult to manage all the responsibilities and guilt associated with being a mom, especially since my busiest season is when the kids aren’t in school.

6. What advice do you have for other women interested in a science field?
Get involved in research projects. Also, look into the Federal Pathways program. This program recruits students (both undergraduate and graduate) in Natural Resources fields for jobs in the federal government. It is often very difficult to get into a permanent position with the federal government (US Forest Service, USGS, BLM, etc) and this is a way in.

7. Anything else?
Be observant. Most of the science used in stream restoration is simply observing the natural world and trying to recreate it. Also, I love this interpretation of Darwin’s ideas and it’s especially applicable to stream restoration and the need to restore resiliency: “It’s not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”

If you’d like to learn more about principles guiding Cari and her team’s designs:

Cluer, B. and Thorne, C.R. 2014 A stream evolution model integrating habitat and ecosystem benefits. River Research and Applications 30: 135-154.

Pollock MM, Heim M, Werner D. 2003. Hydrologic and geomorphic effects of beaver dams and their influence on fishes. AFS Symposium 37: 213-233.

Learn more:


Camp Polk Meadow five years later

It’s hard to believe it has been five years since the massive restoration of Camp Polk Meadow Preserve was complete. Sarah Mowry reflects on the meadow, the changes we've seen, and the future of this dynamic place.

by Sarah Mowry

It’s hard to believe, but it’s already been five years since the massive restoration of Camp Polk Meadow Preserve was complete. It was a snowy, cold day back in 2012, February 28 to be exact, when the Land Trust and our restoration partners returned the full flow of the creek back to the meadow for the first time in 47 years.

Whychus Creek in 2012 as it was redirected back into Camp Polk Meadow. Photo: Jay Mather.
Whychus Creek in 2012 as it was redirected back into Camp Polk Meadow. Photo: Jay Mather.

The Land Trust’s full staff was on hand for the historic day and we all watched from various points along the bank as the face of the Preserve was changed forever. I was staged high on a rocky overlook, right above the spot on the creek where the excavators dumped massive amounts of rock, huge trees, and soil to block the old straight creek. As the blocked channel slowed the water to a trickle, water began to flow and bring new life back to the meadow where it had been absent for so many years.

For me, it was a career highlight to see that kind of innovative, inspiring restoration work that would help heal our meadow. But it has been even more of a career highlight to watch the meadow grow and change over the last five years. My favorite changes at Camp Polk Meadow Preserve include:

  1. Whychus Creek at Camp Polk Meadow Preserve. Photo: Ryder Redfield.
    Whychus Creek at Camp Polk Meadow Preserve. Photo: Ryder Redfield.
    Camp Polk Meadow is now an incredibly dynamic place! What was once a dry, dusty, static place is now full of life and change. Water re-sculpts the meadow at regular intervals, new plants have taken root and flourished, wildlife are beginning to make the meadow their home. All this because we have given nature back her leading role.

  2. Water! About that water in the meadow—it’s everywhere! Whychus Creek now floods its banks on a regular basis, helping slow waters and bring life-sustaining nutrients back to its banks. The restoration has also dramatically elevated groundwater levels and rehydrated the surrounding meadow, allowing it to be the sponge with cool water that the creek needs during hot summer months.

  3. Willow, alders, dogwoods, oh my! The vegetation at Camp Polk Meadow has exploded! Post-restoration survivorship was astounding with 99% of plants surviving. In fact so many plants survived and created volunteer plants that researchers can no longer find the original plants and had to change their monitoring methods. Check out this series of photos and watch as a portion of the lower meadow transforms from a dry, dusty place with no creek (2009) to a place with head high willows, alders, and dogwoods!

  4. Stella who stole our hearts! Last spring we celebrated the return of the first adult steelhead to Camp Polk Meadow Preserve in 52 years. We called her Stella, and danced a little jig that she survived the gauntlet of dangers to return from her ocean journey and nestle down under a log jam in our newly restored meadow. Now we hope she'll be joined by many others.

The Camp Polk Meadow restoration was a massive leap forward in realizing the dreams for many Land Trust staff, members, volunteers, and partners. It all started with the Land Trust’s purchase of the meadow in 2000 with the vision of fish and wildlife thriving in a historic meadow. I came into the middle of the story in 2005 when we knew the restoration was a possibility, but a lot of work remained to achieve our goals. 

In 2007, two years before the restoration started, we released the first tiny steelhead fry back into the creek. It was a symbolic day for the fish, but also for the meadow and our collective future. I was lucky enough to help with the releases, and so was my son Will, heavy in my belly and about ready to join the world. 

This year Will turns 10(!) which means it's been ten years since we first released those tiny steelhead at Camp Polk Meadow. Will and his sister have now helped release their own steelhead fry, but their release was into a meadow that is much healthier than it was in 2007.

Last spring, we all celebrated together when Stella, the first adult steelhead in 52 years finally returned to Camp Polk Meadow Preserve. Even if you aren't a fish person, it's hard not to get excited about what Stella means for the meadow and our community. Together we CAN help get nature back on her feet so the iconic species of our region can return and thrive.

As we look to the future, we know that, thanks to the Land Trust, Camp Polk Meadow Preserve will be there in 5, 10, 20 more years when Stella's children and grandchildren make their own triumphant return. I hope I can be there too.


Helping release steelhead fry at Camp Polk Meadow Preserve. Photo: Jay Mather.
Helping release steelhead fry at Camp Polk Meadow Preserve. Photo: Jay Mather.

Sarah Mowry is the Deschutes Land Trust's Outreach Director. She has been working to share the amazing work of the Land Trust with our community since 2005.

Learn more:


Women in Science - Pat Green

March is Women's History Month and we are celebrating all month long by highlighting local women scientists in Central Oregon.

Pat Green during a work party at Whychus Canyon Preserve. Photo: Land Trust.
Pat Green during a work party at Whychus Canyon Preserve. Photo: Land Trust.

Happy Women’s History Month!  In honor of all the great women out there, past and present, we’re profiling three local women with a commitment to science.

This week, we are featuring retired National Forest Ecologist and Land Trust volunteer, Pat Green.

1. How did you get interested in working in science?
My life in science is driven equally by guilt and curiosity. Biological diversity is the result of evolutionary processes and events operating for several billion years. The richness of natural life is so great it may seem miraculous, but it is increasingly at risk. I have been especially lucky to have a career that let me spend time in the Rocky Mountain’s forests and grasslands as a National Forest ecologist. It started simply by doing a soil survey. But all the physical and biological parts are connected and describing the connections helped me realize the work that most needed doing: conservation biology.

2. What is your educational background?
My undergraduate degree is in Archeology, my Master’s in Forest Science, and more advanced coursework in Ecology and Statistics.

3. What were your favorite parts of your career in science?
Some of the most satisfying work was the analysis of forest patterns over space and time, and using that knowledge to help design management approaches that were in line with natural disturbance regimes. In addition, using spatial data in GIS has always been a special treat—you can jump through time and across millions of acres, looking at the interaction of all kinds of ecological variables. Sweet!

4. Have you noticed a difference in the number of women in science since you began your career?
I got my first job when women were rare in Natural Science fields. It is great to see how that has changed.

5. Who are your mentors and role models?
Some of the women researchers I have been taught by or worked with were great mentors. The curiosity and the rigor they brought to scientific inquiry were awe-inspiring.

6. Anything else?
Even in retirement, I hope to live my life as a curious conservationist and there are lots of us in Bend! Also, if you’d like to read some great books about science (including conservation biology), Patricia recommends:

“Conserving Forest Biodiversity: A Comprehensive Multiscaled Approach” by David Lindenmayer and Jerry Franklin

“Letters to a Young Scientist” by Edward O. Wilson

“Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies” by Jared Diamond

 Thank you, Pat!


9 Facts about black bears

Brush up on your black bear knowledge and check out Bear-a-palooza, a wildlife cam slideshow before our March 22nd Nature Night!

A mother and two cubs. Photo: Land Trust.
A mother and two cubs. Photo: Land Trust.
Our last Nature Night of the season is near, and wildlife biologist Dana Sanchez will be speaking about black bears. Bring yourself up to speed with a few bear facts, and enjoy the wildlife cam slideshow and that we dubbed, Bear-a-palooza.

Start off with these facts (as referenced from www.defenders.org).

  1. Big things come in small packages.
    Black bears are the smallest bear species in North America, and are only found in North America. Males have an average weight of 150-300 lbs. In comparison, a male grizzly bear can weigh 300-850 lbs.

  2. High five!
    Black bears have short, non-retractable claws that help make them great tree climbers.

  3. Black is the new black.
    The fur of eastern black bears is usually all black, but in the west, their fur can be brown, cinnamon, or blond.

  4. Are you going to eat that?
    Black bears eat everything! From berries to nuts, insects to salmon, these bears aren't picky.

  5. Safety in numbers.
    More than 600,000 black bears live in North America and about half of them live in the U.S. They reside in at least 40 states.

  6. 30 is the new 20.
    The average lifespan of a black bear is about 10 years, but they can live to nearly 30 years in the wild.

  7. "But I'm not tired!"
    If there is ample food and the weather is mild in their region, some black bears may not hibernate at all, or they might hibernate for shorter periods of time.

  8. Black bear, party of one.
    Black bears like to be alone, but they will forage with others if there is enough for everyone to eat in one area.

  9. 6 is a crowd.
    Female black bears can have litters of up to 6 cubs, but 2 cubs in a litter is most common. Females will reproduce every second year.

It is exciting to be able to see active wildlife at Land Trust Preserves through the wildlife cam lens. It is a great reminder that the Preserves are sanctuaries for wildlife, and that watching them from afar is the best way to keep them (and you!) safe. Enjoy the Bear-a-palooza slideshow! (Be sure to click "Show Info" in the upper right corner to see captions).

If the slideshow does not appear, click here.

Black Bears with Dana Sanchez

Wildlife biologist Dana Sanchez presented our March Nature Night on black bears. Enjoy the slides from her presentation and other resources to help you learn about living and playing in bear country.

Thanks to those of you who came out to our March 22nd Nature Night, Behind the Scenes With Black Bears. Dana Sanchez gave a great presentation full of fascinating information about black bears and their habitat, and what we can do to avoid human-bear conflict in urban and backcountry areas.

 Enjoy the slides from Dana's presentation below. Then, scroll down for links to resources that will help you learn more about black bears and how to keep them safe.

If you have trouble viewing the slides below, click here.


What can you do to keep bears safe and avoid human-bear conflict? (see the resources below for more ideas)

  • Keep pet food indoors. Feed pets in the house, garage or enclosed kennel.
  • Hang bird feeders from a wire at least 10 feet off the ground and 6 to 10 feet from the trunk of tree.
  • Remove fruit that has fallen from trees.
  • Take garbage with you when leaving your vacation home.
  • Keep barbecues clean. Store them in a shed or garage.
  • Store livestock food in a secure place.

Additional Resources:

Books about tracking wildlife:

  • Mammal Tracks & Sign; A Guide to North American Species, by Mark Elbroch.
  • Wildlife of the Pacific Northwest; Tracking and Identifying Mammals, Birds, Reptiles, Amphibians and Invertebrates, by David Moskowitz.



Dana Sanchez
Dana Sanchez is an Associate Professor of Fisheries and Wildlife and an Extension Wildlife Specialist at Oregon State University in Corvallis. She holds a PhD in natural resources from the University of Idaho and her research focuses on North American mammals from the very small to the very large. Dana also explores the effectiveness of online learning and how to broaden participation in science professions among members of underrepresented groups. Dana has lived in the West most of her life and in her spare time enjoys gardening and training her dog, a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever.

Learn more about Central Oregon Wildlife:

Wildlife in Central Oregon

9 facts about black bears



The Great Basin Spadefoot

Alan St. John shares some interesting facts about the Great Basin spadefoot--a native to our dry sagebrush terrain with a fascinating "tool" at its disposal.

By Alan St. John

Although Central Oregon's high desert doesn't seem like the kind of place where you'd find moisture-loving amphibians, there is in fact one species native to our dry sagebrush country. It's the arid-adapted Great Basin Spadefoot (Spea intermontana).  

Ranging in size
The "spade" on the rear foot of a Great Basin spadefoot. Photo: Al St. John.
The "spade" on the rear foot of a Great Basin spadefoot. Photo: Al St. John.
from 1.5 to 2.5 inches, this little toad's common name is derived from a dark, sharp-edged nubbin that protrudes from the heel of each rear foot. These "spades" are used to burrow rapidly backward into soil. It manages to survive in parched environments by remaining underground during dry spells--possibly two years or more when extended droughts occur. Occasionally, when folks dig a well or excavate a basement, these dinky amphibians are encountered ten to fifteen feet below the surface, where the deep dampness maintains sufficient metabolic hydration for them to survive.
With the arrival of spring and early summer rains, spadefoots emerge to breed in any available shallow water--seasonal rain pools, lake and stream edges, irrigation ditches, stock ponds, and even the warm, muddy water in a cow hoof print. The males quickly attract large aggregations of both sexes with their loud, monotone choruses of "whaaa, whaaa, whaaa." After hatching, the larvae develop rapidly and can transform from aquatic tadpoles to terrestrial adults in as little as two weeks or less. This allows them to be ready for existence on land before their often temporary pools of water have evaporated under the summer sun. 
A Great Basin spadefoot emerging from the sand after a rainstrom. Photo: Al St. John.
A Great Basin spadefoot emerging from the sand after a rainstrom. Photo: Al St. John.
The Great Basin Spadefoot inhabits sagebrush steppelands, salt-scrub deserts, and dry juniper-pine associations east of the Cascades. It is primarily active at night, with a diet consisting largely of insects. Indicative of nocturnal behavior, a spadefoot's eyes have vertical pupils, which quickly differentiates them from other Oregon toad species.  
The next time you're driving during a spring cloudburst on the high desert, watch the wet pavement ahead. Chances are, you'll see one or more of these hardy toads hopping purposefully across the road. 
Other Land Trust blog posts about amphibians:


Other blog posts by Alan St. John:
A native Oregonian, Alan D. St. John lives in sage-scented juniper woodlands near Bend with his wife, Jan. Al is a freelance interpretive naturalist who uses writing, photography, and drawings to teach about the natural world. Specializing in herpetology, he has worked as a reptile keeper at Portland's zoological park, and conducted extensive reptile and amphibian field surveys for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, USDA Forest Service, the U. S. Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management, and the National Park Service. Along with authoring the books, Reptiles of the Northwest and Oregon's Dry Side: Exploring East of the Cascade Crest, his work has appeared in National Geographic, Outdoor Photographer, Ranger Rick, Natural History, Country, Nature Conservancy, The New York Times, and other periodicals. 

Women in Science - Amanda Egertson

March is Women's History Month and we are celebrating all month long by highlighting local women scientists in Central Oregon.

Happy Women’s History Month!  In honor of all the great women out there, past and present, we’re profiling three local women with a commitment to science.

This week, we are featuring the Land Trust's Stewardship Director, Amanda Egertson.

1. How did you get interested in working in science?

When I was growing up, my family had a cabin in the woods in north central Pennsylvania. Every weekend of my childhood was spent playing in those woods and splashing in the nearby creeks and streams. My mom shared with me her sense of adventure and innate curiosity in the natural world, so although I whined a lot on hikes back in those days, the seeds were planted and I eventually pursued a degree in ecology.

2. What is your educational background?

I have a BA in Music, an Elementary Education teaching certificate, and a Master’s in Animal Ecology. It’s not necessarily the typical progression, but I wouldn’t change it if I could.

Amanda Egertson does monitoring at Whychus Canyon Preserve. Photo: Land Trust.
Amanda Egertson does monitoring at Whychus Canyon Preserve. Photo: Land Trust.
3. What are your favorite parts of your current job?

Being OUTSIDE! I love exploring new properties and discovering their hidden treasures. I also enjoy working with amazing partners and learning SO MUCH through all of our collaborative restoration projects. Another favorite is meeting people on tours and hearing their stories, plus sharing my enthusiasm for the natural world—especially butterflies! Every day is different. And every day I get to work for an organization that’s doing something I sincerely believe in. It’s humbling and inspiring. I’ve never thought of myself as a career-minded individual, but after 13 years, I still feel very fortunate to do what I do.

4. What is a recent project you worked on that you especially enjoyed?

Honestly, I love any project that involves working in the field with others. Whether it’s a small work party with volunteers, large-scale stream restoration with multiple partners, visiting with Preserve neighbors to talk about stewardship projects, or sharing a monitoring day with the landowner of a conservation easement, I enjoy them all. If I had to pick a favorite though, I’d probably choose our recent restoration of Whychus Creek.

5. Who are your mentors and role models?

I’m inspired and enriched by so many people in our community—all those working to take care of this special region—whether they’re pulling weeds or working on large-scale conservation and restoration projects; whether their tool of choice is a planting shovel, weeding hoe, or camera. It’s all important, it all has value, and it all makes a difference.

Thank you, Amanda!


Read our other Women in Science blog posts: 
Women in Science - Cari Press
Women in Science - Pat Green

Fun features of Willow Springs Preserve

Get to know the newest Land Trust Preserve: Willow Springs Preserve!

The Land Trust just announced that we have a new Preserve joining the family: Willow Springs Preserve!  We are still in the early days of getting know the Preserve, but wanted to share some cool features of the property so you too can get to know Willow Springs Preserve.

Three cool features of Willow Springs Preserve:

Cottonwood trees like this one abound at Willow Springs Preserve. Photo: Jay Mather.
Cottonwood trees like this one abound at Willow Springs Preserve. Photo: Jay Mather.

  • Diverse plant communities: Willow Springs Preserve has a diverse and healthy native plant community. The Preserve is home to a cottonwood gallery forest, which forms a corridor of trees along Whychus Creek. Cottonwood gallery forests occur in floodplains where scouring and soil deposition help the cottonwoods grow. Deer, elk, and beaver enjoy the leaves and shoots of cottonwoods, and large birds will nest in them. Cottonwood gallery forests are in decline in the West, making the one at Willow Springs especially important. The cottonwoods share creekside habitat with an abundant and very diverse willow community (hence the Preserve name). These willows light up the creek corridor each winter and spring with their bright yellow and red stems.

    There are also many aspen stands at Willow Springs Preserve that provide benefits to wildlife. Aspen offer nesting and foraging opportunities for songbirds, bats, deer, beaver, and other wildlife. In winter and spring, aspen release snowpack stored in their shady groves into streams and groundwater. Learn more about aspen.

  • Whychus Creek. Photo: Jay Mather.
    Whychus Creek. Photo: Jay Mather.
    Cool water temperatures: Just upstream from Willow Springs Preserve are two large, cold-water springs that feed into Whychus Creek and greatly benefit the Preserve. These springs, known as McKinney Butte Springs, provide up to 46% of the creek’s flow in this area during the dry summer months. When Whychus Creek flows past McKinney Butte Springs, the water temperature drops from around 70 degrees Fahrenheit to 57 degrees Fahrenheit! This cold water influx is beneficial for steelhead and salmon, making Willow Springs Preserve a great place for these fish.

  • Central Oregon human history: The Wa’dihichi’tika, a Northern Paiute group, had a home district that included the Willow Springs area. They gathered roots, seeds, and berries, hunted, and likely fished local rivers and creeks, particularly during the spring salmon run. Individual families would travel from place to place for increased hunting and foraging opportunities during the spring, summer, and fall, before reconvening in winter camps.

    Euro-Americans began moving to the Sisters area in the late 1860s. In 1910, there were several portable lumber mills on Whychus Creek near Willow Springs, originally owned by Joseph P. Duckett and John L. Spoo. John’s son Ed took over his part in the company and in 1918, and a larger, permanent mill was built right next to Willow Springs Preserve. Ed used a truck (one of only two trucks in Central Oregon at that time!) to move logs to the mill rather than a horse-drawn big-wheel. The Duckett and Spoo sawmill was the first permanent, commercial mill in the Sisters area, producing enough lumber during each shift to put siding on 250 Hindman barns. The Hindman barn is located just downstream from Willow Springs Preserve at the Land Trust's Camp Polk Meadow Preserve. (Thanks to Martin Winch's book Biography of a Place!)

Learn More:


Ten Ways to Support Whychus Creek!

The Land Trust is close to reaching the end of the Campaign for Whychus Creek! Help us raise $350,000 by June 30th by getting involved with the Campaign and supporting Whychus Creek.

With two months to go, the Land Trust is close to reaching the end of the Campaign for Whychus Creek! We are so close to meeting our goal, but we still have $350,000 to raise by the end of June.

Now is the time to step up and get involved with the Campaign for Whychus Creek. Here's how:

  1. Learn more about Whychus Creek and its importance in Central Oregon. Whychus Creek provides critical habitat for fish and wildlife, which is why the Deschutes Land Trust has worked for over 20 years to connect our protected lands and create a corridor along Whychus Creek. Learn more about our Campaign.

  2. Be an advocate for the Campaign for Whychus Creek and inspire others to #speakforthecreek. Talk to your friends and family members about Whychus Creek and its importance in our community.

  3. Go on a hike along Whychus Creek. Join the Deschutes Land Trust on one of our free guided hikes to see Whychus Creek for yourself. You can also visit Camp Polk Meadow Preserve and Whychus Canyon Preserve on your own. Or, hike along Whychus Creek in the Deschutes National Forest. Get to know the creek and see its beauty and importance.

  4. Take a virtual tour of Whychus Creek. Not able to get out for a hike along Whychus Creek? We have another great option—take a virtual tour of the entire creek corridor or of our new Willow Springs Preserve on Whychus Creek.

  5. Make Whychus Creek go viral! Another great way you can help the Campaign for Whychus Creek is to get the word out through social media. Like our Facebook page and posts about Whychus Creek. Retweet on Twitter. Like and share our Instagram photos of Whychus Creek. Don’t forget to tag us: #speakforthecreek and #deschuteslandtrust. These small steps can make a big impact.

  6. Join the Land Trust at an event. We will be out in the community during the next few months. Stop by our booth at the Earth Day Fair, run or walk in FootZone’s Dirty Half (all proceeds go to the Land Trust!), or come to Deschutes Brewery on Tuesdays in June, where $1 from each pint purchased will be donated to the Campaign for Whychus Creek.

  7. Volunteer at one of our work parties. Throughout the spring and summer, we have opportunities for you to come out and lend a hand at our Preserves many of which are on Whychus Creek. Learn more about volunteering.

  8. Make a special gift to the Campaign for Whychus Creek. With only $350,000 left to raise, every dollar counts. Consider making your own gift to the Campaign for Whychus Creek. Want to get creative? Ask friends and family for your birthday (or your child’s birthday) gifts to be a donation to the Campaign for Whychus Creek.

  9. Proudly show your Campaign for Whychus Creek sticker. Do you have your Campaign for Whychus Creek sticker on your water bottle or car bumper? Make sure to show your support by proudly displaying your We Speak for Whychus Creek sticker! Don’t have one? Stop by the Land Trust office and we’ll be happy to give you one!

  10. Make a pledge to the Campaign for Whychus Creek. Are you interested in making a large gift to the Campaign for Whychus Creek over the course of several years? We’d love to talk with you more! Please contact Executive Director Brad Chalfant for more details and to express your interest in this option.

We are continually inspired by our supporters, so let us know if you have additional ways you plan to support the Campaign for Whychus Creek.

Together, we can finish the Campaign for Whychus Creek on a strong note and show the impact of our great community!

Learn more:


Ten Facts about Golden Eagles

The Land Trust's Aspen Hollow Preserve has a golden eagle nest that is currently being used to raise an eaglet. Learn more about the nests and courtship behavior of these magnificent birds.

What bird dives at speeds up to 200 miles per hour, soars on afternoon thermals, and generally mates for life? The golden eagle! In honor of the golden eagle couple Petra and Rocky, who have a nest at the Land Trust’s Aspen Hollow Preserve, here are 10 fun facts about this majestic bird’s nests and courtship:

1. Golden eagle nests are on average 5-6 feet wide and 2 feet high, weighing hundreds of pounds.

2. The largest golden eagle nest on record was 20 feet tall and 8.5 feet wide!

3. Nests are made up of sticks and vegetation. This may include conifer boughs, grasses, barks, leaves, mosses, lichen, fur, bones, antlers, and human-made objects (like wire and fence post).

4. Sometimes, golden eagles will bring herbs/aromatics into their nest. It is believed this may keep bugs away.

5. Golden eagles may inhabit the same nest for years, or alternate between different nests.

6. New nest material is added every year.

7. Both parents will incubate the eggs, but it is mostly done by the female.

8. Generally, the adult male delivers most of the food to the nest, while the adult female usually feeds the young.

9. Courtship rituals include circling and shallow dives at each other.

10. Nests are mostly built on cliff edges, although they can also be found in tall Ponderosa Pines and very rarely on electric transmission towers.


Learn more:


Thanks to two outstanding volunteers

The Land Trust is extremely fortunate to have an army of volunteers who have dedicated many, many hours to conserving and caring for our lands. This month, we wanted to send a special thank you out to two of those volunteers who have given so much over the years.

The Land Trust is extremely fortunate to have an army of volunteers who have dedicated many, many hours to conserving and caring for our lands. This month, we wanted to send a special thank you out to two of those volunteers who have given so much over the years:

Paul Edgerton was recently honored with a new bench at his favorite Metolius Preserve. Paul served as one of our very first hike leaders when the hike program was just beginning back in 2003. For more than 10 years, Paul delighted people with his knowledge and approach to plants, forest ecology, and natural history. He also spent many hours helping care for our Preserves as a consultant, trail tender, and all around helper. Now that he has moved on to other endeavors, we miss him daily, but are so glad he will always be connected to the Metolius Preserve.

Larry Weinberg officially retired as the head of our dedicated Weed Warrior crew this spring. Larry has been battling weeds for the Land Trust for more than 10 years! He started the program back in 2007 when he moved to Bend and realized we didn't have regular weeders. Since then, he has pulled more weeds than we can count, making a visible difference to the lands under our care. We are so grateful Larry started the group and donated his time to help it flourish! We wish him well as he has moved on to less back intensive volunteer work! Rest assured the Weed Warriors will continue to battle weeds under the leadership of Ginny Elliott and Pat Green.

Thanks Paul and Larry!!


Working Ranches + Wildlife Corridors

Executive director Brad Chalfant shares details on the Land Trust's role in developing funding sources for working lands conservation.

by Brad Chalfant

While the Land Trust has long focused on land conservation around streams and floodplains (no big surprise, given we inhabit an arid landscape), we've also always been concerned about the fragmentation of local ranches and commercial timberlands (remember Skyline Forest?).

Here in Central Oregon, large ranches and commercial timberlands have traditionally represented our economic base. However, the growth of other local industries, particularly recreation, has contributed to a rapid growth in the region's population and growing pressure to subdivide these working lands. When that occurs, we see an increase in the density of roads and traffic, fencing, lights, dogs, etc., all of which can complicate and disrupt the movement of native wildlife.

Antelope at Bella Ranch. Photo: Land Trust.
Antelope at Bella Ranch. Photo: Land Trust.
The protection of big game migration corridors is often viewed as simply addressing the need for public agencies to manage herds of mule deer and Rocky Mountain elk as they move from summer to winter range and back again. However, this isn't just a concern for hunters. In fact, the protection of wildlife migration corridors benefits a wide range of species, both addressing the need for seasonal movement, as well as for the genetic health of various wildlife species, minimizing the risk that a given population of wildlife becomes isolated and inbred. Allowing wildlife the freedom to move between population concentrations or types of habitat becomes even more important when we factor in climate change.

Consequently, the Land Trust has worked with data from various conservation partners (including the Oregon Dept. of Fish & Wildlife, The Nature Conservancy and the American Bird Conservancy) to identify key migration corridors that are at risk of fragmentation. Land protection projects like Bella Ranch and Ranch at the Canyons, as well as our ongoing effort to conserve Skyline Forest and working ranches along the Upper Crooked River all reflect an effort to protect important migration corridors. By helping a rancher or timberland owner keep their land in production at a sustainable level, they can forgo additional development and maintain an economic return, while wildlife maintain, and hopefully enhance, their ability to move when they need to do so.

To date, our progress on working lands projects has been severely constrained by the limited availability of public funding. For that reason, the Land Trust has worked through the Coalition of Oregon Land Trusts and a Governor's Working Group to develop a new Oregon funding source to underwrite working lands conservation easements. The proposed program is known as the Oregon Agricultural Heritage Program and is currently under consideration by the Oregon legislature as House Bill 3249. Given the legislature's budgetary challenges, it’s unlikely we’ll see passage of the bill and full funding for the program. However, the collaborative conservation and agricultural alliance that produced the bill is pursuing a 2-step strategy. The first step involves building relationships in the legislature and enact legislation to authorize the program (without implementation funding) this session. Then in a subsequent legislative session, we’d return for full funding once the state's fiscal crisis has eased. As this is a long-term strategy, you can expect to hear more from the Land Trust about our continuing efforts to protect key wildlife migration corridors!