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Deschutes Canyon Currents
January 2021
Lower Crooked River Canyon / Tom Iraci
We work to preserve and restore the wild landscapes of the Middle Deschutes and Lower Crooked Rivers and Lower Whychus Creek through stewardship, outreach and education.
           -FANs of the Deschutes Canyon Area's Mission Statement

Our Lens on Learning Series Continues Online

Beautiful Birds of Central Oregon
Presented by Chuck Gates, former President of East Cascades Audubon Society
February 27, 2021, 10:00 a.m.
Free event on Zoom

Register Now

Join Chuck Gates as he shows off some of the most beautiful of our local birds.  He will use his own photographs to highlight the most colorful, varied and attractive birds seen locally.  While primarily a photo essay, Chuck will reveal interesting tidbits and anecdotes about each species as he takes you on a tour of all things feathered and beautiful in Central Oregon.

Chuck Gates is a retired Biology Teacher who has lived in Central Oregon most of his life.  He grew up in Culver and now resides in Powell Butte.  He currently holds the record for most species seen in Crook County (285) and is tied for first place in Jefferson County (255).  In the past, Chuck has been a Board Member of Oregon Field Ornithologists (now called Oregon Birding Association), founding member and President of the East Cascades Audubon Society (ECAS), and the State Coordinator of the now defunct North American Migration Count.  Currently, he is the editor of the Birding Oregon Site Guide website, regional Field Notes Editor for Oregon Birds Magazine, and Field Notes Editor for the ECAS Calliope newsletter.  He is currently working on a comprehensive website featuring the eggs, nests and young of Central Oregon nesting birds.  Learn more and register for this event.

evening grosbeak | photo by Chuck Gates

The Peninsula:  Beauty and the Bleak
Trish Nevan, FANs Member

It was a brisk and bright late fall morning when six intrepid—and socially-distanced—souls met at the cattle guard on Peninsula Road at the north boundary of Crooked River Ranch. Friends and Neighbors of the Deschutes Canyon Area (FANs) trail monitor Eric Hanson was on hand to lead a hike called "The Peninsula: Past, Present and Future." Hanson has spent many hours exploring the area and was eager to share some surprising secrets of this beautiful, albeit bleak, land.

Hike Leader Eric Hanson led several guided hikes on the Peninsula.

The Peninsula, as locals call it, is part of the Crooked River National Grassland. It also contains land managed by Bureau of Land Management, some private parcels, and state park at the northern tip.  Far below on the east side, the Crooked River winds its way through a narrow gorge, while on the west side, the Deschutes River flows through a steep canyon before the stunning backdrop of the Cascade mountain range. Both rivers meet at Lake Billy Chinook, forming the northernmost tip of the Peninsula.

The land itself offers a first impression of flat scrub with grasses and sage punctuated by western junipers. Increasingly, it's a place where recreationists ride horses, walk dogs, or watch birds. No matter your outdoor interests, the Peninsula is a place to enjoy wide open vistas and spectacular views. On this day, however, hikers were given a glimpse into the fascinating past of the Peninsula—and there has been a lot going on out there over the years.

Hikers take in the view from Deschutes River Canyon Rim.

Hanson noted that the Peninsula has a long history of Native American activity. He has found obsidian shards that show evidence of tool use, and is most excited about the discovery of several stunning petroglyphs on the canyon walls. More recent history shows evidence of how homesteaders tried to claim and tame the land in the early 1900s. The remains of rock foundations (were they homes, sheds, barns or root cellars?) indicate their place in history, and a careful observer might uncover an old rusted can of evaporated milk (the soldering on the can gives away its age) which was a staple of life for those surviving in the middle of nowhere. The homesteaders are long gone now, as the land proved tougher than the settlers. Still, their historical footprints remain, as Hanson showed us photos of an old wooden water trough he had discovered and shared the story of the Seven Sisters Wall, a massive four-foot wide by five-foot tall rock wall further north on the Peninsula which was rumored to be a project devised by a homesteader with seven daughters, as a way to keep them from getting into trouble.

Anchor rock gives glimpse of Peninsula history.

Our group did a fairly easy three-mile loop tour around part of the Peninsula. Along the way, we learned about the FANs nest box monitoring project, how Opal Springs supplies water to Madras, Culver and Metolius (and that there are no opals—just naturally tumbled agates—at the springs), examined a damaged wildlife guzzler (one of several on the Peninsula), observed several rock foundations, learned that the ghost town of Geneva (across the Deschutes River side of the canyon) was named after its postmistress, and noted some new and some old government survey markers that have received some recent attention as wildfire mitigation projects are gearing up.

Hikers inspect a collapsed wildlife guzzler.

Sign up for a FANs activity and you'll find yourself in interesting company. Our group had experienced hikers, climbers, birders, plant identifiers, and explorers who added to the conversation and provided even more insight into the ongoing story of the Peninsula. Some of the random topics that came up included: the age of western junipers (some are hundreds of years old); the geological age of the Peninsula (around 5.2 million years) with the Crooked River canyon being less than a couple of million years old; nesting locations and habits of golden eagles; the different species of sagebrush and how to identify them; wildlife programs pros and cons; and, of course, the ever-popular interest in rattlesnake activity (they come out when temperatures are over 50 degrees). All in all, it was a fascinating hike. Thank you to Eric Hanson for sharing his time, knowledge and expertise.

Diane Randgaard Recognized with
2020 Eve Nazarian Award

Marilynne Keyser, President, FANs

On behalf of the board of directors of FANs, I am pleased to recognize Diane Randgaard with the Eve Nazarian Award, given annually to an outstanding member volunteer.  Diane, a founding member of our board, manages FANs email and social media, including our website and Facebook page, and she creates Deschutes Canyon Currents, our monthly online newsletter.  Diane also oversees FANs' publicity online and in local newspapers.

During the pandemic, Diane expanded FANs' online connectivity to members and the public. She has led our ongoing commitment to utilize social media outreach, and she built on FANs' vital ties to members, despite the board's inability to offer in-person events.  Diane took on the management of Zoom so that we could offer Lens on Learning events with audiences of 50 of more.

With her background and strong interest in wildlife conservation, Diane created, monitors, and leads guided hikes on the Crooked River National Grassland Nest Box Trail on the Peninsula.  To her credit, this Trail, created in 2018, includes eight bluebird boxes and three American kestrel boxes, with the majority of boxes being used for nesting.  Diane is looking forward to the future when Nest Box Trail guided hikes can safely be resumed.

This annual volunteer award is in memory of Eve Nazarian, a former founding board member.  Eve lived on Big Sky Place near the Peninsula at Crooked River Ranch, and she loved living here after moving from Portland and Bend.  She spoke straightforwardly and worked steadfastly to protect these extraordinary public lands, and FANs is proud to honor her enduring influence with this Award.


Diane Randgaard fills a kestrel box with fresh wood shavings.
Did you miss our January Lens on Learning presentation?

You can view this recording:
Presentation by George Wuerthner 

Friends and Neighbors of the Deschutes Canyon Area
is proud to be a part of

Friends Grassroots Network
Central Oregon Conservation Network

Board Meeting Schedule

Friends and Neighbors of the Deschutes Canyon Area board meetings are usually held at 4:00 p.m. the second Sunday each month.  Copies of the agenda are available before the meetings.  Public comments are welcome at the end of board meetings.

Our next board meeting will be February 21, 2021, at 4:00 p.m. via Zoom. Please email if you would like to participate in this meeting.

FANs Board of Directors
Our all-volunteer Board of Directors focuses on our mission: Preserve and restore the wild landscapes of the Middle Deschutes and Lower Crooked Rivers and Lower Whychus Creek through stewardship, outreach, and education. 

You can read more about our Board of Directors and Leadership Team by clicking here.

FANs is a 501-C-3 Nonprofit Organization  EIN #45-4986167

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Our mailing address is:
Friends and Neighbors of the Deschutes Canyon Area
PO Box 2127
Terrebonne, OR 97760
541.771.FANS (3267)

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Friends and Neighbors of the Deschutes Canyon Area · PO Box 2127 · Terrebonne, OR 97760-2127 · USA

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