Spring is in bloom at The Cove

Painted Lady Butterfly on flowering Balsam Root

Painted Lady Butterfly on flowering Balsam Root

Spring at The Cove, as everything is coming to life, is one of the most beautiful times of year.  Much like an Easter egg hunt, spring does not scream like a neon sign but special joys can be sought out and treasured, all the more remarkable for their rarity.

Apple Blossom Crooked River Wetlands

Apple Blossom Crooked River Wetlands

Historically, areas within the park were farmed; however most of the farming areas and orchards are now under Lake Billy Chinook or were abandoned for lack of irrigation.  Yet another treasure to discover, this apple blossom is from a lone apple tree near the Crooked River Campground.

The waterfalls are flowing, creating micro-ecosystems that give life to an otherwise dry, desert landscape.

The waterfalls are flowing, creating micro-ecosystems that give life to an otherwise dry, desert landscape.

Wildflowers like balsam root, lupine, Indian paintbrush, serviceberry, bitterroot, desert parsley, aster, and campus lily, dot the hillsides in a rainbow of colors.  Unlike a zoo, you can’t instantly find and walk up to a wild animal at The Cove; but if you are quiet and patient, you can enjoy the chorus of bird song, crickets and frogs and look for new park residents as our baby animals start to explore their new world.

It is a spectacular time of year to bring your kayak and glide along the water’s edge pondering the age-old stories etched in stone of violent eruptions and determined rivers – or drop in a line.  Eagles and vultures are soaring above Lake Billy Chinook; as swallows dart to and fro in search of mud and insects.  If you hike the Tam A Lau trail, warmer temperatures are causing our reptiles to wake from hibernation, western fence lizards, stripped plateau whiptail lizards, and bull snakes have been spotted out and about.

Come out and discover your treasure today!Indian Paintbrush (2)

Fire Fuels Reduction Project Update

Fire is a natural part of a healthy ecosystem.  Wildfires are a common occurrence in Central Oregon due to our high summer temperatures, low precipitation and humidity and numerous lightning strikes.

Fire can provide long-term benefits to forest and watershed health;
however, high intensity or large wildfires can result in significant increases in runoff and erosion, which can negatively impact water quality.
Low - moderate intensity wildfires can encourage vegetative succession and promote diverse habitats.

Low – moderate intensity wildfires can encourage vegetative succession and
promote diverse habitats.

Due to the urban interface, fire suppression is common practice. This is important when saving life and property but it does not make for healthy natural areas.  Park officials deal with vegetation management by thinning and burning.

Juniper Thinning Project spring 2014 (3)

Last year, a contractor was hired to thin some of the Juniper trees in the Deschutes Campground and Day-Use areas to lessen the potential effects of wildfire in the park. (Wood from this project was donated to local senior citizens that needed it for winter). You may have seen piles of cut branches in the park over the summer in 2014.

Ranger Supervisor, Chris Gerdes stands watch over a controlled burn near the Deschutes Campground.

Ranger Supervisor, Chris Gerdes stands watch over a controlled burn near the Deschutes Campground.

While some of the piles were left in place for erosion control and wildlife habitat; other areas were carefully burned over the winter and early spring of 2015.

This summer, see what has popped up in our burned areas…

The Island, a National Natural Landmark

The Island is majestically placed between the Deschutes River and Crooked River where they enter Lake Billy Chinook.

The Island is majestically placed between the Deschutes River and Crooked River where they enter Lake Billy Chinook.

The Island is a peninsula with steep vertical cliffs on three sides, that rise 700 feet above the Crooked and Deschutes Rivers.  It measures about 208 acres on top. Due to the steep cliffs that surround it, the Island has never been grazed by livestock, except for one season of grazing by sheep in 1921. It also has not suffered from any sizable wildfires in the last century.  As a result, it contains one of the United States’ last remaining undisturbed communities of two native vegetation types: western juniper – big sagebrush-blue bunch-wheatgrass and western juniper-big sagebrush-bitterbrush.

The Island is significant in several ways.  This geologic feature is part of the Deschutes Formation which began forming about 11 million years ago, as alternating layers of basaltic lava, stream sediment, and volcanic debris flowed into the area from the Cascade Range.  Erosion by the Deschutes and Crooked rivers; as well as wind have continued to form and erode the plateau we see today.  It was a powerful cultural location to local Native American’s.  It also possesses exceptional value as an illustration of the Nation’s Natural Heritage and contributes to a better understanding of the environment.  

In order to preserve the integrity of the site, the Island is designated a Research Natural Area by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in 1986.  In 1997, the BLM closed the Island to the public; permits may be issued to educational institutions and conservation groups seasonally.  Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, designated it as one of nine National Natural Landmarks in Oregon.

In 2011, the Island formation at Lake Billy Chinook was dedicated as a National Natural Landmark.

The Island at Lake Billy Chinook was dedicated as a National Natural Landmark in 2011.

Rangers Steve Bifano, Chris Rodgers, and Jay Walters located the perfect rock in which to set the National Landmark plaque this spring.

If you are driving toward Deschutes Camp, on the left side of the road, near the Petroglyph Rock pull off area, you will see a trail going back towards Group Camp.  Hike about a hundred feet and you will find the plaque.  Park Staff intend to install a bench for visitors in the future.



EW Flyer 2015VIP Tours of the Round Butte Fish Facility and Hatchery – Saturday 12 pm / Sunday 11 am – sign up at the welcome table half an hour before the tour begins. Special Guests:  J.R. Beaver, Larry the Light bulb & Smokey Bear!

Event Sponsors:  Acorn Naturalist, C3 Events, Canyon Creek Pottery – Sisters, Cascade Lavender – Culver, Cornell University of Ornithology, Earth20 – Culver, High Desert Museum – Bend, Indian Head Casino – Warm Springs, John Finch, artist, Ka-Nee-Ta Resort & Spa – Warm Springs, 91.9 FM – KWSO Warm Springs Radio, Madras Aquatic Center, Madras Garden Depot, McKay Cottage – Bend, Museum at Warm Springs, Oregon Parks & Recreation, Oregon Zoo, Portland General Electric, Quartz Creek Drummers and Dancers, Spilyay Tymoo Warm Springs Newspaper, Sunriver Metal Works, Sunriver Nature Center, The Bennett Family, The Patton Family, The Rybel Family, Telecom Pioneers, Wild Birds Unlimited – Bend.

Originally posted on The Cove Rattler :

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Hiking Can Relieve Stress

winter 2014 048It’s time to put pen to paper, or fingers to your smart phone, and make your 2015 New Year’s Resolutions.  Most of us have a lot of similar things on our lists, stay close to friends and family, loose weight, start a new hobby, reduce stress, be healthier, drink more water and start exercising.  What is one thing that you can do and will check everything off your list?  HIKING!  And what better place to do it than in Central Oregon.  Best of all it’s free!

I don’t know many people that say, “I have so little stress, I really need to complicate my life today.”  Most of us have some form of stress and we all need a healthy way to deal with it.  So at least once a week find a trail and you will not only get aerobic exercise – which increases endorphins and stimulates the body – but you will also find a deeper level of relaxation, which reduces stress.   Once out there, you have the freedom to tune your brain into whatever is most important.  Hiking can be coupled with meditation, time to contemplate complex issues that matter to you without distractions, or simply enjoy taking in the sights and sounds of nature.

Like any hobby, hiking can be more fun, and safer, with a buddy.  Hiking with someone else can allow you to vent, talk out or brainstorm when you have a problem.  The other person can also serve as a distraction if you don’t want quite time.

If you need to take your relaxation to the next level and really tune out the world for a while, bring your favorite music with you.  Not only does it serve to calm the nerves, lower stress hormones and blood pressure, but it also helps to establish a rhythm of hiking, which accentuates the effectiveness of the body’s aerobic exercise. Studies have shown that the combination of endorphins released between the two seemingly contrasting activities can deal with stress much more efficiently overall.

Central Oregon State Parks have miles and miles for you to explore.  Here at The Cove, the are many short winding trails that lead from the Deschutes Campground to the Deschutes River.  The Tam A Lau trail is a seven mile loop that will get your lungs and legs pumping with an 800 foot elevation gain and amazing Cascade views.  Also check out Smith Rock State Park, Tumalo State Park or Pilot Butte, Prineville Reservoir State Park (there is a three mile trail between Prineville Reservoir and Jasper Point State Park), and La Pine State Park.

Mt Jefferson Sunset
“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.”  – John Muir,

While hiking is an excellent way to relieve stress, it is important to always be prepared on a hike. If you haven’t exercised in a while, it might be a good thing to see your doctor first.  Check the weather forecast and a map of the area you are visiting, dress in layers, let someone know where you are going and when you expect to be back.  Bring a first aid kit, extra water and a mobile phone that gets reception in the area.

Have a happy and healthy 2015!

The Cove Team Wins State SOLVE Award

SOLVE (Stop Oregon Litter and Vandalism Everyone) is a state-wide non-profit organization that takes action every day to keep Oregon clean and green. They mobilize volunteers and organize cleanup and restoration projects throughout the state.  SOLVE also strives to protect our State’s natural resources.

The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department was recognized this year at the Tom McCall Leadership Award banquet.  Our agency won the Oregon Champion Award for our work hosting volunteer events to protect and preserve Oregon’s State Parks, historic landmarks and waysides.  The Cove Palisades State Park was chosen to represent the Eastern Region.

The Cove staff could not have achieved this award without hundreds of outstanding volunteers –  through the Lake Billy Chinook Clean Up Days, Eagle Watch, the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Program, Seeds For Change, Park Hosts, Recycling Volunteers, Service Clubs, individuals and more!  We would like to take this opportunity to thank all the volunteers that have worked hard at The Cove Palisades State Park over the years to make this the beautiful place we all know and love.

2014 crew picture SOLVE Award(Left to Right:  Lori Young, Jay Walters, Chris Gerdes, Kelli Leiby, Chris Rodgers, Steve Bifano, and Erin Bennett – not pictured David Slaght, Park Manager.)

To learn more about SOLVE or to find out how to get involved, go to http://solveoregon.org/

Just in Time for Holiday Shopping


Art Contest Flyer

Halloween Animals We Love to Fear 5

Halloween is Friday, October 31st – and we save the best for last…

spider collage(ok, maybe these really are creepy!)

Eight legs, eight eyes and a face only a mother can love.  Arachnids.  Spiders and scorpions strike fear into the bravest hearts. The tarantula considered the most frightening spider on earth and thankfully we don’t have them in Central Oregon. There are three poisonous spiders you do need to watch out for at The Cove:

poisonous spiders

No Haunted house would ever be complete without creepy spiders and miles of webs stretched across every possible surface.  While I’m not hoping to convince all of you to like spiders;  there are some interesting facts to share.
• Spiders are insectivores and eat all kinds of bugs including wasps and hornets.
• They are typically nocturnal. Most gardeners welcome spiders because they are like having a pest control service that works 24/7 for free.
• Many do not spin webs.
• You are most likely to see spiders in the late summer or early fall because that is mating season for many spiders.
• Spiders are considered a delicacy for many in Asian and South American countries; scorpions, tarantulas and spiders are eaten.
• Spider venom is used in neurological research and may prevent permanent brain damage in stroke victims.
• The silk produced by spiders is used in many optical devices including laboratory instruments.
• Some birds, like the hummingbird, use silk to hold their nests together.

Warning:  Spiders like to be in dark, tight spaces.  Be especially careful reaching into rocks, woodpiles, attics and closets.

scorpion with moth
Fossil records show that scorpions are one of the oldest invertebrates on earth. There are 1,500 different scorpions in the world, 5 are found in Oregon. Baby scorpions are born alive and mom carries all of them around on her back. Scorpions are very sensitive to UV light and often will not leave their borrows even on a full moon – the coolest thing about scorpions, they glow green under black light.

glowing scoprion
Whether our fears stem from urban legends or real-life encounters, it’s normal to be scared of wild animals that could cause you physical harm. But some animals get a bad reputation, thanks to tall-tales or out-and-out myths that just won’t go away. Even if you’re not crazy about some of the animals we talked about in this post; hopefully you will not fear the unknown.  So this Halloween, don’t be cringe when you look at all the creepy animals around a haunted house, smile knowing so many animals are out there helping us.

Happy Halloween!

Halloween Animals We Love to Fear 4

Of course, the most famous raven is the creepy character in Edgar Allan Poe’s famous “The Raven” poem, a popular piece of literature every Halloween.

“Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
`Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,’ I said, `art sure no craven.
Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the nightly shore –
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!’
Quoth the raven, ‘Nevermore.’”

raven by EAPexpendables

The crow is often considered a bad omen of things to come or a messenger. Crows were once thought to lead the sun to the underworld. A group of crows is a murder. Black feathers and the fathomless, shiny, black eyes of the raven symbolize mystery, shape shifter, the occult and dark secrets.

Among the smartest of all birds – Native to Oregon and much of North America. They are predators, highly social and use team work. Researchers found that if a crow had a bad experience with a human that they would remember that specific human and communicated with other crows warning them of that specific person; equally they remember people they liked and would go to even without the lure of treats. They can use tools, communicate with each other non-verbally, problem solve and most impressive, they can fly upside down.

crows with tools

crows flying upside down

Crows and ravens are scavengers that will eat carrion so they, like the turkey vulture, clean up a lot of messes that other animals (including us) won’t touch with a ten foot pole!

Next Friday is Halloween, so we saved the best for last…

The Cove Rattler


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