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Deschutes Canyon Currents
November 2021
Autumn foliage on the Middle Deschutes River  | Tom Iraci
We work to preserve and restore the wild landscapes of the middle Deschutes and lower Crooked Rivers and lower Whychus Creek through advocacy, stewardship and education.
           -FANs of the Deschutes Canyon Area's Mission Statement

2021 Report to FANs Members

Marilynne Keyser, President

When I look at what Friends and Neighbors of the Deschutes Canyon Area (FANs) has accomplished during the nearly two-year pandemic, I am amazed and grateful. Our nine-member board of directors has planned FANs work and fun around the demands of social distancing and masking while personally experiencing the same challenges and losses that many of you have experienced. We have been blessed with continued volunteer and financial support from you, our members, and we thank you.

At FANs October board meeting, your board of directors voted to change our fiscal year from the calendar year to the year-ending on September 30. This was done to facilitate our volunteer work and reporting requirements with federal agencies. It also marks a more natural end to our major activities. So today, I am reporting on the twelve months of FANs activities that ended on September 21, 2021.

Stewardship: 1,226 Volunteer Hours
Preserving and restoring the wild landscapes of the Middle Deschutes and lower Crooked Rivers and lower Whychus Creek is FANs mission and call to action. This year, we have upped the effort to protect and preserve the wild and scenic river corridors and designated wilderness and recreation areas under our stewardship. Our volunteers have spent many hours monitoring our public lands, leading to four major trash cleanups, two knapweed removal projects and numerous individual trail maintenance efforts.

Education: 404 Volunteer Hours
FANs Lens on Learning Program went digital again this year. We offered five Zoom programs. The most popular with 102 participants was “Beautiful Birds of Central Oregon” by Chuck Gates. FANs received a $5,000 grant from Conservation Lands Foundation in 2020 to publish 3,000 new brochures printed in both English and Spanish and a Guide to Common Weeds of the Deschutes Canyon Area. The brochures were completed this spring, and the field guide is on its way to press as I write this. It will be available at FANs website and at your local independent book stores very soon. As many of you know, the Guide to Common Native Plants of the Deschutes Canyon Area, published in 2017, has sold out! We are so grateful to Conservation Lands Foundation for a second $5,000 grant this year to produce an expanded second edition of the field guide. We expect the new edition to be available in time for spring botanizing in 2022.

Guided Hikes: 448 Volunteer Hours
After being unable to offer hikes in 2020 due to the pandemic, FANs came back this year with 19 guided hikes.

Administration: 1,453 Volunteer Hours
Thanks to all our volunteer board members and coordinators, including those who spend hours behind the scenes making things work, managing FANs volunteers, finances, communications, federal agency partnerships and networking with other conservation organizations. After six years, 2021 will be my last year as FANs president. I look forward to focusing on my role as native plant coordinator and will continue to help with some of the administrative work when a new president is chosen in December. Stay tuned!

Stewardship Coordinator Jeff Scheetz (pictured) conducted trail work with
FANs member Eric Hanson along Scout Camp Trail in November 2021

This is How Public Lands Stewardship Works!

Jeff Scheetz, Stewardship Coordinator

On October 18, 2021, FANs member John Schubert let me know that we had a weed emergency in the Deschutes Canyon. Large common mullein outbreaks along the river on both Steelhead Falls Trail and Scout Camp Trail had flowered and were going to seed. Each mullein plant can produce 100,000 to 180,000 seeds which may remain viable in the soil for more that 100 years!

An email was sent to FANs members, and the response was amazing.  The next morning, October 19, John Schubert led a group of five volunteers to Scout Camp Trail where we hiked down to the river and clipped off the flowering stems of the mullein, stuffed them in 50-gallon plastic bags and carried them back up to the canyon rim for disposal. I think everyone enjoyed socializing as much as mullein removal. John was shooting for 99% removal and I think we reached his goal!

Thanks to John Schubert for activating us and to Greg Brenholdt, Steve Jarratt, and Jason Mosiman for joining John and myself to tackle the problem.  More than ten FANs members volunteered to repeat the effort on Steelhead Falls Trail between the falls and the Monarch Way Station later that week.  This is how public lands stewardship works!

FANs volunteers bag mullein flowering stems in the Deschutes Canyon

Geology of the Canyons by Al Albin

The Juniper Room at Crooked River Ranch
November 20, 2021, 2:00 - 3:00 p.m.

For the first in-person program since the pandemic began, FANs is delighted to welcome one of our own to present the November Lens on Learning program at the Juniper Room, Crooked River Ranch. Al Albin and his wife Kathlene are FANs members who have lived at Crooked River Ranch since 2015.

In Central Oregon, we live at the junction of five Geophysical Provinces: Blue Mountains, Columbia River Plateau, Basin and Range, High Lava Plains, and the Cascades. Al will explore the unique character and geologic history of each and help us understand how they relate to and interact with each other.

Al’s work at the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument after a stint in the military inspired him to study geology. After attending Central Oregon Community College, he received his Bachelor’s degree in geology from Oregon State University. Al attended Northern Arizona University where he earned his Master’s degree studying the metamorphic and intrusive rock formed in North America 1.7 billion years ago.

Al retired in 2013 after spending his career as an engineering geologist on heavy civil construction projects including dams, water control structures and tunnels for the Bureau of Reclamation and the Department of Agriculture.

Due to Covid restrictions and limitations on occupancy in the Juniper Room, registration for this program will be limited to 35 fully vaccinated FANs members. Masks will be required.

At this time, this event is full, but you can CLICK HERE to sign up on the waitlist.  If a space becomes available, you will be notified.


Geologist Al Abin will speak at the Juniper Room on November 20

Native Plant of the Month: Western Juniper

Marilynne Keyser, Native Plant Coordinator

Western Juniper (Juniperus occidentalis) is the dominant tree across much of the landscape of central and eastern Oregon.  Although native to the area, it has become an invader that is threatening the stability of the sagebrush-bunchgrass steppe that we call home.

Before European settlement, Oregon’s arid land hosted old growth juniper savannah, consisting of scattered old trees and a healthy understory of shrubs, wildflowers and bunchgrasses.  Fire, started by Indigenous tribes or by lightning strikes, kept the juniper in check.  Most of the trees that survived the fires were the ancient ones with rounded tops that could live to be over a thousand years old and reach a height of 70 feet and measure up to six feet in diameter. You can identify the old growth junipers by looking for deeply snarled bark, rounded top and yellow wolf lichen (Letharia vulpina) on still living trees.

In the last 150 years, with the introduction of livestock grazing and the regular control of fires, juniper woodlands have taken over millions of acres in Oregon.  Most of these trees are smaller and densely packed.  Where junipers take over, sagebrush and other shrubs are lost, wildflowers decline, and bunchgrasses suffer.  Why? Because juniper has a competitive edge when it comes to water.  Seedlings immediately begin to grow taproots, which penetrate deeper and deeper into the soil.  Once it has put a taproot down to a dependable source of water, the tree produces lateral roots, forming an extensive mat of fibrous roots close to the soil surface.  The junipers effectively rob their neighbors of water!

Western Juniper seeds are spread by wind, water and birds.  What we call the “juniper berry” is actually the female cone, and the small, brown extensions of the green branches are the male cones.  Pollination occurs in the spring when the male cone releases its cloud of yellow pollen, wrecking havoc on those of us with pollen allergies.

Most of us have a love/hate relationship with juniper.  What should you do?  I recommend taking out all small junipers (those under 20 feet tall), while keeping the oldest and largest to grace your landscape.  This will help restore the native ecosystem and reduce your risk from wildfires, too.  The Crooked River Ranch fire department recommends removing the lower branches of larger trees, as well. There you have it.  Love the “old”; hate the “young.”  Just don’t hate me for saying so.

Hill outside Prineville in 1895

Hill outside Prineville in 1985

Old growth juniper tree

FANs Last Hike of the Year was for the Birds

Marilynne Keyser

On October 13, a small group of beginning birders joined a FANs hike led by Chuck Gates at the Crooked River Wetlands in Prineville.  We enjoyed a beautiful morning walk around the ponds.  The big draw this time of year are migrating geese, ducks and shorebirds.  We saw over 1,000 Canada geese, 300 northern shovelers, 200 green-wing teal, and 5 long-billed dowitchers, among others.

We spent two hours walking the asphalt trails and watching birds.  In addition to geese, ducks and shorebirds, we identified a merlin, a great horned owl, a Wilson's snipe, a sora, a belted kingfisher and a ring-necked pheasant.  In total, we saw 18 species during our walk.

Keep your eyes open for future birding walks at the Crooked River Wetlands in Prineville.  This is a great outing for folks that have mobility issues, because Chuck will give them a ride!

Birders enjoyed a beautiful October day at the Crooked River Wetlands in Prineville

Your Membership Keeps FANs Strong

FANs has remained strong and focused through the Covid-19 pandemic, and we are excited to move forward in 2021 and beyond.   Your membership, participation and financial donations are vital to the health and success of FANs…. your local conservation organization!

FANs membership begins at $10 per person per year.  We are grateful to so many FANs members that generously give more.

To renew, print this form and mail it with your check to:

FANs,  P.O. Box 2127,  Terrebonne, OR 97760

Or visit our website,, to donate online and complete an online membership form.  

If you have membership questions, please contact Sue Combs, FANs Treasurer and Database Manager, at 541-604-0280 or

Support FANs with
Tru Earth
Eco-Friendly Products

FANs members can now order from Tru Earth, a provider of ECO-FRIENDLY LAUNDRY DETERGENT STRIPS.... and MORE.  If you are interested in reducing plastic waste and using earth-healthy products, check out Tru Earth supporting FANs website. FANs receives 20% of the retail sales price whenever you order from this website.  You can access it by clicking on the Get Involved and Support FANs Through Purchases tabs at

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 on 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 December 12, 2021, at 4:00 p.m. at the home of Marilynne and John Keyser, with current COVID protocol in place. Please email if you would like to attend this board 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 advocacy, stewardship 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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