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1) How long have you lived in Sisters?
I have never lived in Sisters but
have been in the area for a long time. Now I live between Bend and
What was you first experience in the Sisters area?
In the 1950's I came up here and
logged for a while and chased around as a coyote trapper up near
What is your occupation?
What are your favorite places?
Three Creeks Lake
Meadows, Cache Lake, Hand Lake
5) What are your favorite creeks or lakes around Sisters?
Three Creeks Lake is my favorite spot and Three Creeks Meadow is nice
to visit any time of the year, rich with diversity of flora and fauna.
Trout Creek Meadow is also a lovely place to see a variety of wetlands
species. It is a challenge to try to understand all that you see there.
That is something I enjoy doing no matter where I go. I find it very
lovely up there.
6) Do you remember any floods in the area?
Oh yes, in 1964, I think it was, the Columbus Day Storm. I can remember
very vividly, driving through Sisters when there was a tremendous storm
coming through in November. I was coming over to visit with my parents
in Bend. I was working for OMSI at the time, and we came up over the
Santiam and the Santiam River was in flood and almost in the
road. We managed to get to the top and as we came down this side, Pole
Creek was flowing across the road just this side of Black Butte. We
forded that ok, but boy when we got to Sisters Wychus (Squaw) Creek
...I can't remember real details. I believe I saw the creek when I
got to the old Sisters drug store where I first put my wheels in the
water. And from that point until I was way past the stands I was driving
in water, until I was way past the scales, I was driving in water.
Water was everywhere and it was ponding up everywhere. It was running
pretty fast across the bridge, but not fast enough to sweep our Volkswagen
7) Have you spent much time on Wychus (Squaw) creek?
of Wychus (Squaw) Creek, it's one of my favorite spots. I have
been working with Eagles, Prairie Falcons, Red tails and also
searching for Swainson's Hawks there on the grasslands where
Wychus Creek meets the Deschutes out on the BLM land, one
of my favorite spots as well.
8) What do
you remember about those times?
Very muddy roads in the spring,
almost impassable and in the fall. I trapped Hawks down there
for banding purposes. One time there was a place where you could
ford Wychus creek from the end of Buckhorn road and keep going
and end up over in Grandview. That road is closed off now but
there was a time when you could cross it. It was almost unoccupied
at that time. The only people you could find in there were the
sheep people who came through the back end of Deschutes and Jefferson
9) How have these creeks or lake changed?
One way they have changed dramatically is the numbers of visitors they have
received. Another is the introduction of pestiferous plants, weeds that have
been brought by livestock and on wheels of vehicles. Habitat has changed,
Juniper trees seem to have gotten bigger. The Three Creeks Lake area is the
same story when it comes to people, it was virtually unknown in the 50's.
Now you go up there any day of the summer and there are mobs.
10) Do you see any problems or have any concerns
for the future of our lakes, streams, and drinking water?
Yes I think I do. The quality of the water on the lakes from the standpoint
of pollution from people usage is certainly one that we have got to consider.
And the Forest Service has been considering that and I think they have been
doing pretty well with the restrictions they have placed on it. Three Creeks
Lake does not have any motors on it so that oil pollution probably won't be
problem. But just like Scout Lake, we used to go there an awful lot swimming
and finally it got to be so many people up there all peeing in the water I
didn't think it was safe anymore. So I decided not to go up there any more
to go swimming.
you think it is just humans not being clean about their activities?
Sure, all the trash up at Three
Creek Lakes is sometimes pretty formidable. Another thing that
enters into the picture is the irresponsibility of people that
have machines that will go places they shouldn't be going that
are capable of going there. I am particularly annoyed by the
four-wheel drive and RV people who act irresponsibly tearing
up Three Creeks Meadows, tearing up the springs. A favorite place
of ours now where you don't run into a lot of people and you
have a good experience is up at Prairie Farm. That is a site
that we have on our butterfly count that Sue does every year.
It is particularly disappointing to go there to those springs
and find where people have driven their four wheel drives through
them and have really trashed a lot of good habitat up there just
for the mere sake of throwing mud around and showing how macho
their machines are. How can the Forest Service manage something
like that? How can they be everywhere at once? It is impossible.
The education and enforcement process has to be done by the four-wheel
drive groups and their own organizations, just as the snowmobilers
and others who have policed their own activities. It is just
these irresponsible mavericks that can do a lot of damage in
10 minutes. It will take hundreds of years to recover. That is
the scary part, really scary to me. We have the technology to
cause a lot of trouble that will take a long time to repair.
11) What do you hope will happen with this area's
streams, lakes and drinking water? Are there other things that
you would add to what you have just suggested?
There will be a battle. If we
go through a dry period as we did in 1979 & 80
we are going to have a great struggle with the irrigation people over what
we will do with our waters. Crane Prairie Reservoir and Wickiup are not within
this area of course, but I can remember the battles, the very bitter battles,
that took place over the water at Crane Prairie in 1980 and over maintaining
that fishery. There are several large hay farms pulling irrigation water
from the same aquifir that supplies water to the communities
near where I live. That is what I see down the trail, because
there are so many more people in our area, because of so many
diverse interests and so many people bent on recreation. Boy
if we ever had a shortage of water I wouldn't want to be around
when the arguments started.
do you hope would happen? What would be the ideal?
Everybody share and share alike. That
would be ideal.
aware of this finding that there is unlimited water under the
ground in the aquifer?
I don't buy that word “unlimited.” Larry
Chitwood, th eUSFS Geologist, says that if it stopped snowing
and raining tomorrow we've got enough water out of that deep
reservoir to last us 40 years. They thought the same thing at
Fort Rock Valley when they first went for water down there and
put in all those irrigation systems and turned that desert green.
But five years ago they put a moratorium on digging any more
wells because that aquifer was not recharging anymore, not coming
back to where it was. I can see it, when we had that little drought
here in 1995-96 there were wells out in my area that were going
dry. It 's that greater amount of usage on these aquifers that
is pretty spooky. Sisters has this great flow of water going
under us, going 90 miles an hour. And it is all coming out of
the Cascades. Sisters will probably never have a problem with
the wells around here as long as they continue to pull it from
them with some consideration. I hope people will understand,
study, and understand what available resources we have and manage
those resources in a way so that they will not ever be in endangered.
The same with wildlife. I think this sort of approach, that you
are doing right now is really a move in the right direction,
is to accumulate data, accumulate historical data. That is the
thing that so many young people overlook, is what happened in
the past. Boy, to understand what took place in the past is a
good way to start thinking about how to manage things for the
using deep wells for irrigation instead of removing irrigation
water out of the streams. Maybe we can take it out deeper.
Is that a solution?
No, because it costs a lot of
money to pump water.
Right now the Deschutes River System is really working,
it is the most beautiful irrigation ditch in the world. That's
what it is, by law, that's what it is. At the moment because there
is such a surplus of water everyone is getting along. Oregon Department
of Fish and Wildlife is happy, I think, with the amount of water
they are getting for their fish. The amount of water that is allowed
to run down the river in the wintertime while they are catching
it in the reservoir seems to be working. I think that is working
as best as it can at the moment.
But pulling water out of the
ground. You know that is another dangerous approach. That is
the Arizona and Klamath area philosophy. We'll suck it out
of the ground because it is so available. But freeways have fallen
into the ground in Arizona where they released the hydrostatic
pressure and Mesa and Phoenix have bought up cotton farms all
around them to keep the cotton farmers from using the water to
irrigate their fields. Water is a finite resource. Wells have
already gone in the Klamath and Tule Lake basins. There is a
quantity, if you exceed that quantity you are in hot water (no,
without hot water). What we have going under us seems like it
will go on forever, but like old growth, it doesn’t
go on forever.
12) Do you
fish, hunt or watch wildlife?
All of the above. I used to deer and elk hunt quite a bit, but frankly I have
cooled off on that I. I am not a sport hunter. If I go hunting or fishing it
is to eat.
13) What changes have you seen?
Same thing as before, people.
We have got to be in the people management business. I was hired
to go down to Ramsey Canyon in Arizona for the Nature Conservancy.
My job was to handle people and at the same time manage the hummingbird
resources because suddenly they had this deluge of
people on the preserve that were destroying it. They were loving
it to death. That is pretty much what is happening here. People
are loving it to death. I do not know what the answer is. It
is going to taking some one with a whole lot more brains than
got to figure that out how to limit the numbers of people that
can go hunting and fishing and watching wildlife. That is a
marvelous job for someone in the future. Very near future.
Are there any fish, wildlife or plants you used to see that have
decreased or are gone now?
Dolly Varden on the
Deschutes vanished. A beautiful salmon river that was cut off by
the dams. You could see them at the bridge down at Camp Sherman.
I never caught them but always enjoyed looking at them, they were
such a beautiful fish. The fisheries have changed over the years
as the introduced fish were brought in. I don't know, I am not
that kind of a sports minded person. But, I used to fish Big Lava
Lake all the time for example for Rainbow and Eastern Brook and
the crowds got so big that it was difficult to find a place to
get into the water. I quit going there. But that was one of my
favorite places to go. Opening season, I always went there. When
I went off to Portland I got away from it and when I came back
from Portland in 1970 it was so crowded I quit going there.
15) Are there any fish, wildlife or plants that have
There is a great influx of weeds into the countryside some of it because
of the punishment the ground has taken from overgrazing by sheep, horses,
and cattle, and of course transported in by motor vehicles and livestock.
And we have no control set up over them at this moment. In Deschutes
County they are just now getting concerned about knapweed and have
an effective weed board going. But the eastern part of the county and
many other places are just filled with a lot more that knapweed. But
there is a lot more to be concerned about. It is a disaster when it
comes to weeds and we have to get control over it.
The other disaster we are having is starlings. I
have seen them increase to the point where they are now competing
with native species. The other day I saw one nesting at Crane Prairie
Reservoir. Starlings are really a problem. They have destroyed
the population Lewis' Woodpecker on the Deschutes River. We are
going to have to do something about them. It will be a real bad
problem in five years.
On the opposite side of the
spectrum is the return of the Bald Eagles. When I first came
here in the 50's you were hard pressed to find a Bald Eagle.
They were just not here. There were empty nests all over the
forest; at Big Lava Lake, Crane Prairie, Suttle Lake. You just
couldn’t find a Bald Eagle. Now they
are everywhere. And it is marvelous. The recovery plan Rank Isaacs
put together shows how two things can work in harmony, habitat
reconstruction or protection and law enforcement. The efforts
on the part of the Forest Service to protect the habitat of the
Bald Eagle to enhance its populations have been splendid. Even
though I had to convince the Sisters District that the nest out
there on the irrigation pond was on their land. At first they
just wouldn’t believe
me! That was confusing. Now we have that straightened up and protecting
Bald Eagle habitat has been one of the big factors, but you know
law enforcement has been another one. The responsibility of the
law enforcement people, particularly the state police. They have
gone out of their way to work with non-game long beforeANYONE
ever told them to. That was just their bent. I can remember way
back in the 50's when law enforcement officers were catching
people who were doing illegal things with non-game animals, particularly
shooting hawks and eagles. Back in the 50's one of my very
favorite people, a hero of mine was Avon Mayfield. Every time
I found someone who had killed a hawk I would go to Avon and
tell him about it, and he would say, "Wait until I get my
uniform on." He never said no, he never said call someone
else. And that is the kind of people I find all through the law
enforcement when it comes to wildlife. They are just splendid
and the work hard to catch people who shoot eagles and who are
shooting protected species, non-game. So that made a big impact
as well on the come back of the Bald Eagle in my opinion.
Is there any other species that has come back?
Oh yes, the Redtails. Redtail
Hawks have just mushroomed. They ar enjoying the same protection
and new areas of habitat that have opened up for
them, such as clear cuts. The cuts that have been
put in have become magnificent foraging habitat for Redtails.
They have a great big area to hunt in, marvelous forest on the
edge to nest in, and they have a marvelous diversity of animals
to pick from, gopher populations have just exploded in the clear
cuts as well as many different kinds of rodents. The discovery
of the Flammulated Owls in the Fort Rock District, I don’t
know what it is like up here in the Sisters District, but the
Flammulated Owl probably thought it had died and gone to heaven
down there because they have these enormous clear cuts that produce
flightless locust and moths. And they have all these dead trees
that have been marked as wildlife trees and the woodpeckers have
knocked holes in them. So the Flammulated Owl which is a moth
eater has got a whole great unlimited food supply and it has
this marvelous place to nest.
What species are threatened that have declined?
Of course, the Spotted Owl. And
if we had Great Greys in this area they would be hard pressed
to make a living. Great Grey Owls demand a habitat that drives
fire people up the walls because it is all fuel to burn and with
out that jack straw, dead stuff in the understory the little
owls when they leave the nest, they fall on the ground and they
do all kinds of dumb things and they don’t have something
to climb on they get gobbled up by ground predators so they would
have a hard time. And of course the spotted owl is continually
plagued by management projects that I suppose have to be done
but I am not …What do you mean by that? Well, manipulation projects
on the forest, for example the dead and dying stuff up on the highway up
along the Santiam and in the Metolius watershed. Complete removal of all
these dead trees and that sort of thing because of earlier logging practices
and the denial of fire. That’s the tough part. Now we realize the mistakes
we made. In the meantime we have been either eliminating by killing
the Spotted Owls or we have been chasing them out into an area where they
can’t reproduce. When I did the preliminary work on Spotted Owls
up here on the Sisters District we found them wondering through corridors
but not reproducing. They were able to make a living in the corridors that
were left behind by old growth harvest, but they couldn’t reproduce
in them, it wasn’t enough so we continually monitor what is going on
with species that are as sensitive as that. And they are very sensitive,
they are tough to work with.
What would you like to see happen?
Problems or concerns?
do you hope will happen with this area's fish and wildlife?
I would like to see a more holistic,
more ecological approach to forest management. The Forest Service
has given that a great deal of lip service and in some areas
they have had the freedom to do it. But you know it is so difficult
for that agency to survive when congress is breathing down their
neck to cut, cut, cut a quota and the environmental community
is breathing down their necks to stop. And it’s tough to find the happy balance in there. According to, and
I understand the laws in, the State of Oregon it is the federal government
who watches over habitat and it is the state government who manages wildlife.
Obviously the two have to work together pretty closely, but they don’t
so that’s a real problem. In the old days government and state biologist
would get together for breakfast and chitchat and have some communication as
to what projects were going where and why. But that sort of corporation has
sort of slipped by the wayside and now there’s a lot of competition instead
of cooperation, which is pretty sad.
go outside those organizations, small groups or individuals
adopt a small portion of the forest or any land to protect
or to advocate protection for?
I don’t think it
would work, because there would be people who would want to harvest
that particular land that you have been watching over all these
years. There are people who say use it or loose. So they are not
going to sit tight and let that happen. It would be pretty tough.
I can see that as a marvelous philosophy, I would be in favor of
that, but I just don’t se that as a reality.
you think of the land trust activity, where people form land
trusts and start buying it up?
the Nature Conservancy that’s why the Nature Conservancy
has been so successful. You know that is a big solution. The
real solution is to let evolution take its course in government
agencies and the old use it or loose it crowd will be retiring
and ones coming behind them will be the ones with the Aldo Leopold
philosophy of use it carefully. And I am not against using it.
I like to live in wooden houses and I burn wood in my fires so
I'd be a hypocrite if I said we couldn’t do anything with
the forest. But what we do has to be done with an ecological
approach, not just to grown trees and not just to cut trees.
That is my big quarrel with the Sisters District over poisoning
gophers. Poisoning gophers has only one objective in mind. Get
trees to grow, period! That was a shock to me, I had a very good
friend in Sisters who I admired greatly. He’s one of the
men who I would call on if one of my family were in trouble.
Our friendship was put in serious jeopardy over the gopher-poisoning
project because I refused to accept the single-minded objective
of growing trees and causing so much damage to the ecosystem
to do so. Poison is a horrifying weapon, it affects so many non-target
species. No matter how careful you are with poison grain, there
is still going to be other animals who will get it. No matter
how careful you are about the application of such things there
are still going to be animals that will eat these poisoned animals
and you will end up with secondary killings. So to me it is a
philosophical thing. I think if we take a philosophical approach
as to what a forest is, a forest can be a place where you can
have a balanced ecosystem.
Nature is never going to achieve
balance, it’s always trying to, and it is this harmonious
swinging of animals and plants that makes a forest so filled
with vitality. When you complete eliminate one segment, it throws
the whole thing into a spin. Just like they did on the Santiam,
they went out there in the ‘50s and they cut all the big
trees , left these big open spots and didn’t bother to
plant anything in it’s place. Well White Fir loved that,
they thought that was the greatest place in the world to get
their feet. So the White Fir bloom came on. No fires came through
to kill off the White Fir and for years the White Fir just kept
growing. Then what happened? Here came a whole horde of insects
that loved White Fir and they got into it. Then came all the
caterpillars dropping on all the picnic tables and everybody
screaming and yelling about it. So the Forest Service was going
to solve the problem by spraying it. And that was absolutely
ludicrous. We have to have respect for the land and that was
something that Aldo Leopold, the father of wildlife management,
told us a long time ago. But the problem with the forest service
controlled by congress and congress says cut more trees. So that
means that any holistic approach, any ecological approach any
thought about wildlife is out the window and it is just cut more
trees or you don’t get any money. It is really dumb and
look what we’ve got behind us as we weed out those guys
and gals in there who believe that the only way to do business
is to do what congress tells us what to do. We’ve got to
get people in congress that will relax and tell private industry
get off our back. How can we do that when private industry supports
them to get elected. It is a very involved nightmare through
the whole system. But in the long run that is the only thing
we can do. We have got to look as a forest from an ecological
point of view. That’s what we have to do.
18) Tell us about a favorite person
or character from Sisters past or present?
In Sisters it is difficult because
I never got up into that part of the country that much. Most
of the time I was in the Fort Rock District. I didn’t
know that many people up here. I logged with Bob Couche, and Malin Couche,
long time ago. And I can’t get to talking about people up here.
I would like to talk about one person who made the
difference and people who make the difference. One person can make
1) I would like to talk about
Leo Bishop. Leo Bishop was a scaler for Brooks Scanlon. I met
Leo Bishop up on Green Ridge when they were logging up there
and I was selling power saws in 1951. And Leo and I kinda got
along because his outlook on nature was the same as mine. He
loved logging, he loved being out in the forest, and he was probably
one of the most respectful men I’ve
ever known. George Marshall was another one. George and Leo Bishop
were two people who were different. They logged caused they loved
to cut trees and they loved to be out in the forest but they would
never have violated the idea of taking it all. Leo could never
live with a clear-cut concept. One day I was in my saw shop in
Bend and Leo came in and he said “I want to tell you about
an experience I had today.” And I was always ready to listen
to Leo and still am today. He is still alive, a neat guy (He died
very soon after the interview.) He said, “I
was down at Davis Mountain ( this is when they were through logging
up here in the Northern end and they were down in the Southern
end of the Deschutes Forest) and he said “I was up cruising
a strip,” (and they do that before the loggers move in) and
he was looking to see what the timber was like for the company
to see what the loggers were going to get paid. He was pretty much
of a genius at that sort of thing. And he said “I came to
an eagle’s nest tree up on the side of Davis Mountain and
I told the fallers about it. He had already chosen the two fellows
who were going to work in that strip. He told them about this nest
and he said, “I said to the faller , ‘don’t fall
the tree. And the faller said “is it marked to be cut?” Leo
said, “Yes, but don’t fall it.” And the faller
said, “If it is marked to be cut, I am going to cut it.” And
Leo said, “if you do I won’t scale it and I might miss
about 10 or 12 of your other trees out there.” And they got
into this big argument about it and finally he mitigated the whole
thing, this guy finally cooled down and he said listen,” if
you leave that tree where it is, there is another tree about a
hundred yards from there about the same size, go ahead and cut
that one, but leave the eagle tree where it is. Well, after hemming
and hawing, the faller agreed to that. So Leo went back up and
he scaled all the trees and he said he got to the eagle tree and
it was still standing, and he went over and looked and sure enough
that faller had taken the tree he had suggested he take, so everybody
was happy. He left that unit and it was forgotten. I forgot about
it. But you know when Frank Issac started working on Bald Eagles
back in the ‘70s and started doing an inventory of all the
Bald Eagle nests in the state he got to Davis Mountain and that
eagle nest was still in that tree and that nest was still producing
eagles. You talk about people, that’s how people, one person
can make a big difference. That nest is still standing there and
it will probably be standing there when I’m not standing
up anymore, I’m in the ground. (Unfortunately,
the nest was destroyed in the Davis Mountain Fire.) And I’ll
die with a good feeling about that, and of course I’ll always
have the greatest respect for Leo Bishop. Those are the ones that
make the difference. And if we had more people with that kind of
attitude about utilizing the forest, grasslands, desert etc. we’d
have a lot happier place to live and things wouldn’t be taking
such a beating.
2) Fred Painter was the peace
officer here in Sisters and he added to his income by trapping
in the ‘50s up until
he died. His favorite area was up near Crawford Rim and he trapped
for martin. There were several trappers in this country that were
up here trapping for martin. Fred was the one who trapped the first
wolverine and I think it was shortly after that another one was
shot. Fisher (an ultra large weasel which preys on porcupines)
were brought into this country to control porcupines. That’s
another philosophical thing, you know, porcupines in the forest.
You know when I first came here in the 50’s there were signs
everywhere, “please kill porcupines”. And that was
a real bad deal because everybody drove around the countryside
with their guns to kill porcupines but the poachers, every time
they got caught with guns in their cars, said they were killing
porcupines, and it was the state police who finally got those signs
taken down and that particular form of sportin’ games in
the forest came to an end. So the Fisher fed on the porcupines
for a while and then they vanished, I don’t know what happened,
if they just died off or wandered to other places to make a living,
but I don’t think there is any Fisher left on the Deschutes
3) Gary Hayden was the wildlife
office in this country for years and years. He had a great deal
to do with stopping the useless slaughter of wildlife. I remember
Gary telling me about a man that he saw up in the forest, maybe
at Three Creeks Lake, I can’t remember exactly where, that
was shooting golden mantled ground squirrels. They are a protected
species. He was shooting them and then cut the tail off and left
the tail sitting on a log next to him as markers for all the
animals he killed. And I think Gary charged him so much per tail
when he arrested him. It was a dumb thing to do, but that’s
the way people respond to our wildlife. It is something that
they can use any way they want to. They just feel free to take
it like it is theirs. Lot of people feel that way about our roads
and everything else, that they can go out and do what every they
want to, that they have that right. And to a degree we all have
that right, but when it comes to destruction that’s not
a right we have. I’ve talked to people who
sight in their rifles by killing “varmits, ground squirrels,
marmots”. I can’t go with that, it is not my philosophy.
19) How have the town and the people living here
I can't answer that except that it has changed for the better, people
are more interested today in non-game wildlife management..
20) Do you
see any problems or have any concerns for the future of our community?
They have solved a big problem
by voting in the sewer. Voting in of the sewer was one of the
wisest things they could have done. Sewage ponds are great for
are your favorite forest areas?
My favorite forest area for butterflies
is Prairie Farm and Green Ridge. The road 12 that goes up there,
past the springs and ends up at Prairie Farm is just a great
spot. A great tour to take is to come down the face of Green
Ridge and back down to Camp Sherman, that is a marvelous area,
and then to walk the road along the Metolius that goes up the
east side. We do that whenever we do our butterfly counts and
we always end up having a marvelous time with everything up in
there, every kind of animal you can think of, even bear, that’s
a very fine spot.
23) Have you worked in forests in the area?
Yes, I cut right of way for Brooks Scanlon roads. We cut right of way
for most of the roads that went up through from Scout Lake to Cache
Lake and up in that area, and hauled those logs out. Nothing recently.
In the mid 70's I marked thousands of wildlife trees and blasted the
tops out of 500 trees, creating snags
I have done spotted owl inventory work on the Sisters District. We did some
work on inventorying accipitors, particularly Goshawks. But as far as forest
work is concerned the only thing I did was get in the hair of the poisoners.
24) How have the forests changed?
I think I addressed that talking about the logging that took place on the Santiam
and the Metolius Water shed.
Do you remember any forest fires?
No I cannot.
26) Do you see any problems or
have any concerns for the forests?
I think I addressed that.