What’s Up With The Red Lights?

You may notice that all of the utility hook-up stations throughout the Crooked River Campground at Cove Palisades State Park are all now red lights rather than the traditional white lights.


During the summer of 2015 a study was undertaken at the campground where 10 campsites’ utility stations were changed to red lights for illumination. Each evening the campers at these 10 campsites were asked their opinion of the change to red lighting. After they responded, they were told that the red lighting offered several advantages over the white lights.

The reasoning included:
• Most animals cannot see the red spectrum of light thereby making the campground look completely dark and more natural to the animals
• Red lights offer the same levels of illumination as white lights while allowing us humans to better adapt to the nighttime
• Red lights are not as intrusive to tent and tent trailer campers

The results of the study were more positive than anticipated. There were no negative comments and several people asked why red lights weren’t being installed at all Oregon State Parks.  As an additional benefit, placing a red film over the existing white lights cost less than $0.50 per campsite.

So… enjoy the new lighting at Cove Palisades’ Crooked River campground. It is beneficial to the wildlife while being less intrusive to us humans.

Thank you to Park Host Scott Spence for spearheading this project!

Light Pollution Hurts Us All

What Is Light Pollution?

Light Pollution is the illumination of the night skies by mankind. We are all responsible for the causes of Light Pollution yet very few of us understand the cause and consequences of Light Pollution.

Simply put, Light Pollution is caused by manmade light sources point up or reflecting upwards.

Although picturesque, cityscapes of all sizes create Light Pollution


Highway billboards shine light upwards, wasting as much as 85% of the energy consumed

Light Pollution wastes energy, disrupts wildlife and whites out our naturally dark skies. Light pollution is a new term to most people

How Does Light Pollution Hurt Us?

Nocturnal animals that come out and make nighttime their “daytime” suffer the most. Deer fall prey to their natural predators more easily. Mice and other nocturnal rodents are easier for owls to see. Hatchling sea turtles use the moon to guide them to the safety of the ocean but bright city lights lure them away from the ocean.

Recent studies have found a link between breast cancer and bedrooms illuminated by Light Pollution.

Fewer than 2 in 5 children born today will ever see the Milky Way in their lifetimes. Less than ½ of the population of North America, Japan, Europe, India and other populated locations can see the Milky Way from their backyards.

night sky
Night skies are naturally beautiful

Light Pollution in the United States at night from the ISS


Look At Your Home

Check your home at night. Do you have light sources pointing up or horizontally? Do you really need 60 watts of light when 20 watts will work? Are your exterior lights under eaves?

Bad and good light sources

Get together with your neighbors and evaluate all of the light sources in your neighborhood.

Look At Your City

Take a look at your community. Are flag poles illuminated from the ground rather than from the top? Are billboards illuminated from the top rather than from the bottom? Does your community have lighting ordinances that reduce or eliminate certain Light Pollution sources? Consider going to a city council meeting and suggesting changes to ordinances if necessary.

As an example, Flagstaff, Arizona has had strict lighting ordinances since the early 1960’s. Any clear night of the week a person can stand in the middle of highway 66, downtown Flagstaff and see the milky way. The Flagstaff police department reports a lower crime rate than many comparable sized cities.

Become an advocate for your community. Ask business owners who contribute to Light Pollution to make changes to their exterior lighting to become more dark sky friendly. Investigate the subject of Light Pollution and offer to make presentations on the subject to middle and high school students.
Additional Resources


International Dark-Sky Association

The Ottawa Centre’s Light Pollution Abatement Program http://ottawa-asc.ca/articles/dick_robert/lpap/lpab.html

The Journal Of The Royal Astronomical Society Of Canada

Neighbor-Friendly Lighting

Lowes Home Improvement Centers

Urban Lighting, Light Pollution and Society

Light Nuisances – Ambient Light, Light Pollution, Glare

How Does Outdoor Lighting Cause Light Pollution?

Dark Sky Society


Wetlands Restoration Update

As spring is budding at The Cove, Culver Middle School continues their work in the wetlands.   165 students came to the park to plant 200 osier dogwood whips and 200 coyote willow whips.  This labor intensive work required students to trudge through hard muddy ponds, dig holes, plant the whips and net them so voracious herbivores would not eat them before they had a chance to sprout and then haul water by hand in buckets – not unlike the routine of homesteaders in the late 1800’s at The Cove.  Students raked the new interpretive nature trail that has been put in by park staff.  Mr. Habliston showed students how to put in GIS plots to track and map the plant growth near each pond.  Culver High School also came out to visit previous STEM projects and monitor their progress.



Irrigation water filled the ponds last week which will increase the growth rate of the new whips.


In the classroom, students are planting showy milkweed by seed.  This week they were rewarded when the seeds sprouted new growth.  Next month the new Certified “Milky Way” Monarch Way Station will be planted along the new Crooked River Wetlands Nature Trail – check back for photos.



Culver Middle School helps restore State Park

After fire raged last summer, park rangers welcome school’s interest

See the Bend Bulletin’s Article:  By Kailey Fisicaro / The Bulletin / @kaileyfisicaro Published Mar 9, 2016 at 12:01AM  Culver Middle School Cove Restoration

Culver Middle School S.T.E.M. students were charged with assisting park staff with fire restoration efforts in the Crooked River Wetlands after last summer’s wildfire.   Last fall Culver Middle School adopted The Cove.  Just before Christmas, students collected more than 200 Coyote Willow whips from the park and they’ve been carefully cultivating the plants.

Culver Middle School – Willow Planting Day

Mrs. Little and Mr.Habliston’s 6th and 7th grade classes came out to the park and had a fantastic day planting the willows students cut in December, cutting/preparing more willow for the project and learning about habitat management.  Students learned that removing some plants can be just as important as planting others.


Mrs. Little showing students how to pound in the rebar to make holes for the new trees.

In the current restoration plan, 30% of vegetation will be added to the ponds; later in the month, students will return and plant more coyote willow and red twig dogwood.    They will be netting each whip to prevent mule deer from eating the new trees and shrubs.

Stay tuned for more project photos…



What do high school seniors and first graders have in common? It might surprise you!

You may remember last year Culver High School S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) class designed and built a hydroelectric powered paddle-wheel that will power a portion of the Crooked River Campground. Well they did not stop there.bat house project CR 2014

This year biology teacher Mike Dove, Culver High School, is leading his AP biology class into the dark and mysterious world of bats. Mr. Dove invited me to be a guest speaker on local bats for his class. What an amazing group of students! With their new found knowledge the seniors were inspired to create their own power points to share; then took a trip to Culver Elementary School and visited Mrs. Dix’s first grade class. Peer teaching is an amazing way to learn about how cool bats are. This was the first of several times the two classes will work together. Next, the first graders visited Culver High School’s wood shop and built 12 bat houses. The first graders made and sold bat cookies at recess to help finance the project. Mr. Dale Crawford’s High School Agriculture students came to The Cove and put in three 16 foot poles to hang the bat houses on. Finally as an end of the year field trip, all the kids visited The Cove Palisades State Park Crooked River Wetlands Area to hang the bat houses. Our new park stewards have created important new wildlife habitat for more than a thousand bats! While the first graders waited for their houses to be hung, they learned firsthand how bats use echolocation to find their prey in the near dark of night. The final portion of the project will be an interpretive panel that park staff will install when it is finished. The panel will detail the project, show the children’s art work and educate visitors about the importance of bats in the park.

bat project 1

bats 2

So why you might ask is this important? Bats are among the least appreciated but most beneficial of mammals, they are a vital part of entire ecosystems – and worth literally billions of dollars to the world economy. Bats in Culver are important in numerous ways. The most important reason is natural pest control. A single little brown bat can eat between 600 – 1000 mosquitoes in an hour which lessens the chance of West Nile Virus spreading to humans. Just think of the millions of dollars farmers save in crop damage every year and the gallons of toxins that we are spared from releasing into the environment. Worldwide bats are important pollinators, humans derive 80 different medicines from plants that rely on bats for pollination. A clot-dissolving protein which is found in the vampire bat’s saliva is used in heart patients. They can regenerate entirely decimated rainforest ecosystems through seed dispersal. Their guano is used for organic gardening, in gunpowder and explosives used in by NASA. The next time you drink your morning coffee you may have a bat to thank for that!

Thanks to Culver Elementary and Culver High School for your dedication and commitment to the STEM program. The Cove Palisades State Park would like to thank the teachers and students for your creativity and hard work.

Comet ISON is coming!

Get ready to see an incredible night light.

A comet, an icy ball of solar system debris, is simply a “dirty snowball” hurtling through space.  As it heats up from the sun, gasses extend behind it; the comet’s body, called a “nucleus” appears to develop a tail, called a “coma.”  This is due to the effects of solar radiation and the solar wind upon the nucleus of the comet.

Comet ISON was first discovered by Russian amateur astronomers Vitali Nevski and Artyom Novichonok in September 2012. The comet is officially designated C/2012 S1 (ISON), with ISON standing for International Scientific Optical Network.  It had a bit of a disappointing start but ISON is now visible to the naked eye and it appears to be getting brighter the closer it gets to the sun.  The peak is predicted for November 28th.  Will it be something else to be thankful for? ISON certainly has the potential to be “the comet of the century.”   According to the Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers, ISON is now shining at a magnitude +6.1.

photo: Peninsula Astronomical Society

NBC News Science REPORTS, “The comet is rapidly approaching its Nov. 28 perihelion and as a result it is becoming more and more difficult to observe low near the east-southeast horizon in the dawn sky. Still, observers with access to a clear horizon may be able to follow ISON for about another week.”

Next Monday morning (Nov. 18), ISON will be passing close to the bright 1st magnitude star Spica in Virgo. Using the handle of the Big Dipper, sweep an arc to the brilliant orange star Arcturus. Then continue that arc on to Spica. Using binoculars, ISON should still be readily be visible as a fuzzy star with a short tail. Good luck night sky watchers!

ISON path
photo:  Starry Skies Software

Park Programs Page

Hello Followers and Friends!

Just a quick update to let you know that we just added a new section to our blog: Park Programs.  This page will display a schedule of our up-and-coming Interpretive programs at the Cove Palisades State Park.  Check in on the page monthly to view the fun programs our park has to offer!  Click on the schedule image to view it full-sized, and hope to see you around the park.  🙂

More posts to come!


Ranger Talia and the Interpretive Team



Growing Greener: Part 3

Last Tuesday, the students of Culver High School’s S.T.E.M. Learning class put the final touches on a paddle-wheel they designed for an irrigation ditch running near the Crooked River Campground.  The students have been applying mathematical and engineering principles to design the paddle-wheel, in hopes to generate hydroelectric power to supply electricity to a portion of the campground.  Ranger Talia and Park Manager Dave Slaght were present for the debut of the paddle-wheel, along with Chad Bethers from Elite Electric.  The project has also sparked interest from the High Desert Education District, who were inspired to contribute what they can to the class.  By viewing this Environmental Education partnership in action, they hope to purchase engineering software for students to use in the computer labs.  The next step?  To build a foundation for the paddle-wheel and implement strategies to keep the wheel running efficiently and safely.   We are so stoked for the installation and so impressed by the brilliant minds of these young engineers!

Students apply anti-cease to increase the longevity of the bolt threads.

The water wheel base, constructed by students of Culver High School.
The water wheel base, constructed by students of Culver High School.

Students used Sketch Up to illustrate and conceptualize the project.

Students used engineering software to design the water wheel.
Students used Sketch-Up to design the water wheel.

S.T.E.M. Students work together to assemble the water wheel.
S.T.E.M. Students work together to assemble the water wheel.

Setting the project in motion.

Growing Greener: Part 2

Today, I visited Culver High School to get an update on the STEM Learning partnership developing between the school and the park.  In the Fall, the STEM (Science, Technology, Environment, and Mathematics) classroom toured the park, and collaborated with park staff on project opportunities that would utilize the foundations of STEM while improving the park’s green energy components.

I started the morning hanging out with Mr. Dove’s Environmental Education class, and he told us about his trip to Hawaii over winter break, and his experience visiting Hawaii’s State Parks.  As a class, the differences and similarities between Oregon State Parks were discussed, and the students evaluated Oregon State Park’s mission statement.

A State Park in Oahu, Hawaii. Photo courtesy of Geocaching.com

The Cove Palisades State Park
The Cove Palisades State Park

Did you know that all of these parks you go to in Oregon, they are on a MISSION?  And it’s not top-secret either, OPRD’s Mission Statement can be viewed here at the “About Us” section of their homepage:  http://www.oregon.gov/oprd/PARKS/Pages/about_us

Oregon Parks and Recreation Departments mission is:

The mission of the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department   is to provide and protect outstanding natural, scenic, cultural, historic and recreational sites for the enjoyment and education of present and future generations.

The students were asked, what do these words mean to you?  To PROVIDE and to PROTECT? What is a scenic site?  What is a cultural site?  Why provide and protect for enjoyment?  Why for education today, and tomorrow?

The ideas were flowing!  I was so impressed to see that so many students actually knew and appreciated why this was the mission for Oregon State Parks, and were aware of the strategies and management principles that took place here at the Cove to preserve and protect the amazing land surrounding Lake Billy Chinook.  I definitely feel that growing up near a well-known State Park helped them gain this positive perspective.

Next, I went to visit Mr. Crawford’s Agriculture and STEM Learning class, to get an update on their progress with the hyrdroelectric generator they are designing for an irrigation ditch that runs through Crooked River Campground.  The goal is to develop a generator that would create electric power for some of our Campground facilities, and a great boost for the project came from our neighbors at Pacific Gas and Electric Company.  These students have been working hard at getting the generator in working order, granted only a couple hours a week of classroom time to collaborate as a team and make their ideas come to life.

Students take notes at the Crooked River Campground irrigation ditch and evaluate it's potential for hydroelectric energy conversion.
Students take notes at the Crooked River Campground irrigation ditch and evaluate it’s potential for hydroelectric energy conversion.

Mr. Crawford has taught his students about alternative energy, including kinetic power, from the ground up.  His hands on, kinesthetic approach to teaching, mixed with an awesome work space (a huge garage room with lots of equipment, tools, you name it) has provided students the chance to bring their creations to life, experiment, tweak them, or start over.




Mr. Crawford has assigned students to create a model 3500RPM generator.  To understand the transfer of RPM’s, Crawford has designed this example to get the ideas flowing.  The assignment for today’s STEM class is to build a scale model belt/pulley system to deliver 3500rpm from the first point (Shaft A…currently running at 150 RPM’s) and to increase to 3500 RPM by the last point (Shaft X).  Similarly to a generator, they can only use pulleys.

The students are developing this small scale generator as a step in learning how this hydroelectric generator is going to work, from the ground up.  Through the generosity of Chad Bethers (one of the owner operators of Elite Electric in Tumalo OR.), they have been created a small scale model of what the hydroelectric generator could potentially look like.  With this resource, they are able to visualize their plan in action and contribute pieces as they move along.

Model Hydroelectric Generator donated by Chad Bethers

C. Bethers set the foundation by creating this mini hydroelectric generator model for students to use.  The students have worked with it to add the proper accessories to build what they believe to be a successful example of what could be used in the irrigation ditch at the Cove.

The RPM of the propeller will be controlled by the speed of water with the assistance of gravity.

Read on for some information and pictures on some of their creative contraptions.

This bike has a built on mechanism on the wheel that has the ability to use the energy of the person turning the wheel to process and convert higher RPM as an output.

An exercise bike converted into a pulley system, used to understand how mechanical power, torque, and speed can be transmitted across axles.
An exercise bike converted into a pulley system, used to understand how mechanical power, torque, and speed can be transmitted across axles.

The classroom’s next task?  To understand the importance of water depth, and the value it holds when it comes to the generator.  After using mathematics, earth science, and technology to understand the role of water depth, the class will advance to the beginning stages of the real generator, and the first step is to design and build a though for the ditch.

With this type of motivation and engineering skill in the brains of our younger generations, I would  say the future is looking very innovative and bright.  Stay tuned!