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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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