Residents honored for Land Trust work

The Nugget Newspaper reports on the Land Trust's 2016 Volunteers of the Year.
By The Nugget Newspaper
The Nugget Newspaper

The Deschutes Land Trust presented three Central Oregonians with Volunteers of the Year Awards at DLT's annual Open House on October 27. Stella Dean, Kris Kristovich, and Daniele McKay were honored for their dedication to conserving land in Central Oregon.

Stella Dean told The Nugget that she started going on DLT's guided hikes when she and her husband moved here a couple of years ago after 40 years in Eugene.

"I attended so many of them they decided they might as well put me to work," she said.

That work, known as "shepherding," involves keeping the group together and on track on DLT's interpretive hikes, where guides explain the natural and human history of the area. It's only a part of what Dean does, however.

DLT noted that Dean "has been a member of the Land Trust since 2014 and has volunteered for just about every project the Land Trust has offered. From office and stewardship work, to events, bird surveys, and shepherding hikes, Stella donated 105 hours to the Land Trust last year and continues to lend a hand whenever help is needed."

"I think it's an incredible organization," said Dean of DLT. "I've gotten so much from their hikes ... it's an eduction on the hoof."

Long-time Sisters Country resident Kris Kristovich often works double-time when he is volunteering for the Land Trust. He uses his keen bird identification skills to complete bird surveys and his photographer's eye to capture wildlife and the magical scenes that unfold at Land Trust preserves.

Kristovich has been a member of the Land Trust since 1999, and has donated more than 140 hours to the Land Trust this year. Kris was presented with one of three 2016 Volunteer of the Year awards.

"I just enjoy doing nature photography," Kristovich told The Nugget. "It gives me an opportunity to help them out, and it's something I enjoy."

Kristovich enjoys his average two-days-a-week work at the Camp Polk Preserve, where he soaks up the early history of the area, and revels in the changes that are returning Whychus Creek to a natural state.

"To see this stream back in its original channel was, to me, kind of a hallelujah moment," he said. "Just to be out there is, for me, a real treat."

Daniele McKay of Bend was honored for her work as a hike leader.

"Her hikes are always full because participants know they will come away with a better understanding of the ground beneath their feet," DLT noted.

"These three outstanding volunteers really exemplify the depth and breadth of the Land Trust volunteer family. We are so fortunate to have so many dedicated volunteers who donate their time year after year for the projects they love. It is these exceptional people who make it possible for the Land Trust to conserve and protect the best of Central Oregon," said Sarah Mowry, the Land Trust's outreach director.

Volunteers donated more than 4,500 hours to the Deschutes Land Trust during the past year. In the process, they've improved wildlife habitat, sunk roots in the community and made a commitment to helping others experience the best of Central Oregon.

The Deschutes Land Trust conserves land for wildlife, scenic views, and local communities. As Central Oregon's only nationally accredited and locally based land trust, the Deschutes Land Trust has protected more than 8,750 acres since 1995. For more information on the Deschutes Land Trust, call 541-330-0017 or visit