Category Archives: safety

Fire Ban in Effect Statewide

Governor Brown declared a fire emergency today. In accordance with this, the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department has temporarily banned campfires in all facilities statewide to help do our part to ensure the safety of Oregon’s Parks and their surrounding communities.  This includes the use of charcoal briquettes, tiki torches, all candles, or any open flame that cannot be immediately turned off with a valve.  Large propane fire rings are not permitted on all sites. (check with the park you are headed to for current restrictions.)  Propane cook stoves are permitted; however propane fires may not be left on and unattended.

Visitors planning a trip to a state park should check for up-to-date information about fire restrictions by calling the state parks info line at 800-551-6949.

Partial Fire Restriction at The Cove

 

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Photo by Hasan Albari on Pexels.com

The Cove Palisades Management Unit is instituting a partial campfire restriction effective immediately. 

7 AM – 8 PM  until further notice there will be NO open flames of any kind except for propane cook stoves (allowed for cooking only.)

8 PM – 7 AM small campfires in designated areas within the campgrounds will be allowed, which will include the use of charcoal briquettes and propane stoves.  No citronella or regular candles, tiki torches, or other open flames will be allowed.

These restrictions will remain in effect until we see temperatures and relative humidity change to a less dangerous level – see park website for the most up to date information: The Cove Palisades State Park

If you have questions, please call the park at 541-546-3412.

Jack Frost is Out!

Folklore from countries around the world surround the harsh, cold, dark, mysterious time of year known as winter.

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Boreas – God of the North Wind – In Greek mythology, each direction of wind was considered a god. Depicted in ancient art as an old man, he was considered the bringer of winter and the cold. The harshness of the season was paralleled by his supposedly harsh personality, short-tempered and severe.-

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In some Celtic traditions, According to legend, the Oak King would battle the Holly King who ruled from the start of summer. Though the Oak King’s reign would begin at the darkest time of the year, his coming marked the gradual progression towards spring and summer, rather than being seen as the bringer of the winter season.

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For the Norse mythologies, Ullr was the god of winter. Son of a frost giant, he would rule Asgard in Odin’s absence in the winter.

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Jack Frost, is the personification of snow, sleet, ice, and freezing temperatures.  He is the variation of Old Man Winter nipping at your nose and leaves fern-like patterns on the windows as he walks by. Jack Frost has been referenced in stories and songs since at least the 1700s.

Every now and then, nature transforms The Cove into a spectacle of shimmering ice and frost which coats literally everything in a mantle of glistening ice crystals, this is known as Ammil.  This phenomenon occurs when a winter thaw is suddenly arrested by a rapid drop in temperature which results in the moisture being frozen. Sometimes larger objects can get a build up of several layers of ice which because of its weight can cause havoc with old trees and dead branches.

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 Ammil – The glittering layer of ice that dusts everything after a freeze.

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Frost crystals form on a smooth cold surface like glass, they often make beautiful patterns.  These patterns are the result of changes in the surface of the glass; tiny scratches or specks of dust can affect the way that the crystals form and interlink.

While this picture perfect fairyland is beautiful, it can be dangerous.  Be careful not to slip on ice, don’t stand under trees or things that can break and fall on you.  Driving can be especially tricky.  If you can, avoid Jack Frost, enjoy these days from the warmth of your fireplace; if not, bundle up and go slow!

 

 

Is the Lake Lower?

Visitors at Lake Billy Chinook may notice that the lake level has gone down since this fall.  Boaters will easily see the waterline is a couple of feet lower than it was.  Portland General Electric (PGE) manages lake levels on Lake Billy Chinook to accommodate spring runoff and control flooding downstream.  Some years it is necessary to lower it further like in the spring of 2017 to catch above average snow melt.

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PGE currently plans is to draw the water line down 3 feet by Christmas and keep it there until March and April. The lake level is measured in actual elevation, so full pool is 1,945’ above sea level and hold lake level to approximately 1,942’ after the holidays.

For current water temperature and flow data from U.S. Geological Survey monitoring stations water temperature/water levels

to be sorted 12 2015 007.JPGBoating is allowed all year at Lake Billy Chinook however safety is our priority.  Snow, high winds, icy conditions and low water can make launching difficult or unsafe.  This may require some boat docks to be temporarily closed.  Boaters, stay safe, do not try to launch from a closed dock. For current park conditions, call the park office 541-546-3412, Monday – Friday from 7:30 – 4 pm.

Fire Ban August 16 – 28, 2017

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Due to EXTREME fire danger and limited emergency resources, all open flames are banned at The Cove Palisades State Park before, during and after the Total Eclipse.

ONLY PROPANE STOVES OR GRILLS (with lid) will be allowed; no wood or charcoal fires, propane fire rings, tiki torches, regular or Citronella candles or other flammable fuels will be allowed.  Sky lanterns are illegal in the State of Oregon.  No smoking is allowed in the park except in your campsite or vehicle.

If you plan on camping for the Total Eclipse weekend, please come prepared with alternative cooking methods.  Ice may also be in very short supply and temperatures are expected to be hot.  Plan for your family and don’t forget your furry friends.

Please do your part to keep The Cove Palisades State Park safe and beautiful!

Why Do Animals Attack Humans In The Wild? A Lot Of The Time, It’s Kind Of Our Fault.

Reposted with permission:  Huffington Post Science Section: 02/05/16; Carla Herreria Senior Writer, HuffPost

It’s more than just “don’t feed the wild carnivores.” But, uh, don’t feed wild carnivores.

Facebook, Twitter and Instagram always seem to be full of photos of people’s outdoor adventures. But not everyone who likes spending time in the wild really knows what they’re doing out there — and according to a study published this week in Nature.com’s Scientific Reports, that’s why humans are increasingly being attacked by wild animals.

A group of researchers from Europe and Canada analyzed data on 697 documented attacks on humans by large carnivores, including bears, cougars and coyotes, in North America, Russia and two countries in Europe.

They found that nearly half of all the observed attacks, which occurred between 1955 and 2014, involved risky behaviors on the part of the human victim.

The most common of those risky behaviors? Leaving a child unattended in the wilderness.

The researchers also found that as populations of large carnivores recover in developed countries (a result of successful conservation efforts), the number of “bold individuals” engaging in outdoor activities has also increased.

The data suggests that most people who explore the outdoors have no idea just how dangerous these habitats really are, according to the researchers.

For evidence, look no further than Lake Tahoe, California, or Water Canyon Park in Colorado, where officials have had to issue official warnings because too many people were trying to take selfies with wild bears.

“A lot of what people do is based on a total lack of knowledge about what is dangerous and what isn’t,” Stephen Herrero, a researcher from the University of Calgary who was involved in the study, told the Canadian Broadcasting Company this week.

“Half of the attacks could have probably been avoided if people had done some pretty simple things,” he went on.

Kathi Taltos/Getty Images – A black bear is seen in Sequoia National Park in California.

But what exactly constitutes “risk-enhancing behavior”? The definition is more broad than you might think, and includes things you’ve probably done at least once in your life.

These were the five most common behaviors people were engaged in at the time of an animal attack, according to the study:

  1. Parents (or adults) leaving children unattended
  2. Walking a dog without a leash
  3. Hunting or searching for a wounded animal
  4. Engaging in outdoor activities at night or before dawn
  5. Approaching a female carnivore with its young

Other risky actions include feeding a wild carnivore and encountering a carnivore that has been fed by humans in the past and therefore approaches humans in search of an easy meal.

The researchers note that while these types of attacks on humans are extremely rare, they tend to have dire consequences for both the human and the animal — especially when media reports sensationalize individual attacks and make them seem more common than they really are.

In 2014, for example, Australia began a controversial cull on sharks — including great white sharks, considered a threatened species — in response to seven fatal shark attacks in three years, despite a number of experts arguing that such a response would not reduce the already low risk of attack.

The study’s authors echo this sentiment, adding that this type of reaction hurts conservation efforts for these carnivores.

“When attacks occur,” the researchers wrote, “large carnivores are frequently killed and negative attitudes toward large carnivores harden.”

If we’re all going to be the great adventurers we portray on social media, then we have to learn how to live safely alongside these wild animals, the researchers urge.

Before going on a hike or a camping trip, or entering a national park or any area that carnivores call home, make sure to follow all safety rules posted by federal wildlife agencies.

And please, leave wild animals — especially carnivores — alone.


At The Cove Palisades State Park, we do not have bears or wolves in the park; however we do have other carnivores like cougar, various omnivores and even some bolder herbivores, such as mule deer that think they should eat Doritos.  Cougars dislike a lot of noise and activity.  They will not walk into camp and beg for food but the others will not hesitate to search out and greedily inhale human handouts.  If you feel the need to hand feed a wild animal remember that they can bite or carry disease.  That cute little forest creature that you were dying to have a selfie with only moments before, can become a despised varmint instantaneously.  Feeding wildlife can have devastating, even if unintentional, consequences to either animal and/or human. 

While wildlife encounters are typically very safe at The Cove; practice not feeding any wildlife.  There is plenty of natural food for them in the park already.

Thanks for doing your part to keep The Cove’s animals wild!

Algae Update at Lake Billy Chinook

Health Advisory Lifted – New water monitoring has confirmed that the level of blue-green algae toxins are below guideline values for human exposure.  It is safe to boat/swim in the Crooked, Deschutes and Metolius River Arms of Lake Billy Chinook at this time.

The Oregon Health Authority recommends that people continue to be cautious with their pets in the lake because toxins are still above the very low exposure levels established for dogs. (Health Advisories may still be in effect at Perry South)

Round Butte Dam and the Selective Water Withdrawal Tower. Photo by Greg McMillan.

Why is the lake green?

The term “Algae” refers to a broad scope of organisms.  Algae can range from the microscopic single celled organisms that can be floating in a lake, to large seaweed plants that are found in the ocean, like Giant Kelp.  Your common lake variety of algae is known as green algae.  (This is different from the toxic blue-green algae, which is actually a form of bacteria known as Cyanobacteria, that can make some people and animals sick.)

Single celled Green Algae, photo credit http://www.algae.info

Green algae is the single cell variety of green algae that most commonly turns Lake Billy Chinook green.  These tiny little micro-organisms live off of the nutrients in the lake and use the sunlight to photosynthesize, much like the plants and trees above the water.  These little organisms contain large amounts of “chlorophyll,” which is a pigment that makes all plants green.  (Chlorophyll is the essential pigment that allows plants to photosynthesize sunlight into food.)

Green Algae in Lake Billy Chinook

When the weather and the water temperature warm up, typically in late spring or early summer,  the entire lake can resemble a huge pot of split pea soup.  This occurs when the number of algae organisms begin to reproduce at an astounding rate.  These algae are able to reproduce because there is an excess of nutrients found in the water.  The algae can become thick and doesn’t smell very good.  Algal blooms are a naturally occurring phenomenon, and are essential to the overall health of the lake.  This excess bloom of plant life provides tons of food for other microorganisms and fish.

 

Algea at Lake Billy Chinook Update

As of Saturday, July 9, 2016 –

Deschutes Arm – No advisories at this time
Crooked River Arm – Swimming Advisory, use caution; additional testing in process

Additional information will be posted if and when conditions change.

The Cove is Open for Labor Day Weekend

John Keit Photography

photo courtesy of John Feit Photography

Last weekend Crooked River Campground looked very different. 

Saturday, August 29, 2015 was the day of a fast moving, wind driven wildfire that sent campers, staff workers, neighbors and wildlife scurrying to safety at the Crooked River Campground located near Lake Billy Chinook.  Thanks go out to all of the people who helped fight the fire – Oregon State Park Ranger Staff, Neighbors, Volunteers, Fire Crews from around Central Oregon and local law enforcement .

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Mule deer escaping the flames Photo courtesy of John Feit Photography

“All park staff and volunteers that day performed above and beyond the call of duty, and they did it without hesitation,” said Park Manager David Slaght. “They looked out for each other, and no one was hurt. I am so very proud of them all.” Slaght was at home with his family Saturday morning when he got the call that a fire had broken out in the Crooked River Campground (E Loop). He raced to the park, arriving at the same time as a few neighboring farmers driving trucks with water pumps. Together with staff they started building a fire line. “We laid sprinklers and hose line wherever we could to keep the fire from the campground — and we were successful,” Slaght said. Staff and neighbors worked together to protect the campground and neighboring homes until fire crews arrived. Some 20-plus employees and volunteers — including several of the park’s student workers — laid sprinklers and hose line, dug fire line, directed traffic, and helped people evacuate from more than 70 occupied campsites in E Loop. Wind worked against them with gusts up to 60 mph that broke tree limbs and caused the fire to jump and change directions multiple times.  A few campers were not able to evacuate E Loop before the flames reached the road, and seasonal park staff kept them in a protected southwest area for several hours until it was safe to exit. Slaght said, many staff and hosts deserve medals of honor for their efforts that day. He made special mention of the leadership role taken on by seasonal park ranger Lisa Stevenson, who has 16 years of experience as a firefighter in California.  “Lisa and her team started the evacuation and literally saved a family from being burned. Her quick thinking and past firefighter experience made the true difference in this devastating fire,” Slaght said.

Photo Credit: Linda Larson

Photo Credit: Linda Larson

Fire Chief Brian Huff pulled all local resources and requested mutual aid from every Central Oregon fire department.  Emergency First Responders from Jefferson County Fire and Sheriff, Culver Fire, Warm Springs, Oregon State Police, Bureau of Land Management, 3 Rivers, Crook County Fire and Rescue, La Pine Fire, Oregon Department of Forestry, Sunriver Fire and Rescue, Sisters Camp Sherman Fire, and Cloverdale Fire District, (I apologize to any agencies that I didn’t see) battled extreme fire behavior for hours on Saturday and Sunday.  It was incredible how fast the fire moved; wind gusts up to 60 MPH, erratically changing directions along with steep, rocky terrain made fighting it difficult.

The cause of the fire was determined to have originated from charcoal briquettes which were not completely extinguished. The accident has prompted Oregon Parks and Recreation Department to review operational and public safety protocols, said Director Lisa Sumption.

Park staff spent the week installing caution tape and warning signs to keep visitors out of hazardous areas. We’ve been irrigating daily to prevent flare-ups, and firefighters continue to scout the area and put out hotspots.

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As campers pull into a fully-booked Cove Palisades campground this Labor Day weekend, they will see a green oasis surrounded by a charred landscape. Saturday’s 280-acre fire at The Cove left the campground miraculously untouched. The scene is a testament to an incredible team effort at The Cove to protect visitors and the park.

Open flames, candles, tiki torches, and/or charcoal briquettes are banned in all Oregon State Parks east of the Cascades.  While campfires may be part of Labor Day camp-out traditions, they simply are not safe right now.

Silent Hunters

 

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Mountain Lion, National Geographic Photo

Cougar, Mountain Lion, Panther, Puma…listed in dictionaries under more names than any other animal in the world.  “It is the ultimate loner, a renegade presence in the wildest canyons and wildest mountains, the sign of everything that is remote from us, everything we have not spoiled,” The Yellowstone Wildlife Sanctuary.  America’s lion has roamed throughout the Americas for at least 50,000 years.

Native to Oregon, the state is home to more than 5,500 cougars. Males can have home territories of 200 square miles.  Only a few cats can survive in a 30-square-mile range.  While cougar sightings and encounters are rare, it is wise to educate yourself about the big cats.

Cougars are the 4th largest of the big cats.  A cougar can be identified by its large size, cat-like appearance, consistent tan or tawny body color, and long tail. An adult cougar’s tail is nearly three feet long and a third to a half of its total length. Males can weigh up to 260 lbs.  Females are smaller and can weigh up to 90 lbs.  They can run up to 50 MPH, they can jump over 30 feet long or 18 feet straight up, they are good climbers and can swim if necessary.  Most active at dawn and dusk, cougars are lone hunters.  Cougars are carnivores, they hunt by stealth, and they require eight to ten pounds of meat per day.  Their primary food source is deer, but they will eat elk and smaller animals like raccoons, coyotes, porcupines and other mammals.

COUGAR AND CUB IN WESTERN MONTANA

Mother Cougar and Cub, photo credit Mountain Lion Foundation

Females have one litter, up to six cubs, per year.  Baby kittens are completely dependent on their mother when they are born.  Mama cougars are fiercely protective of her cubs.  Cubs are born with spots and blue eyes.  The spots add camouflage from predators; these fade within about six months.  They grow quickly.  A kitten can survive on it’s own by six months but that is rare.  Typically they will stay with her for twelve to eighteen months.  Cougars can live up to approximately ten years in the wild.

If you ever wonder why we don’t see Cougars more often, these big cats can sleep twenty hours a day.  While actual cougar sightings have increased, coyotes, bobcats and dogs are often mistaken for cougars. If you are in an area where cougars have been spotted, it will be posted.  You can look for signs that a cougar has been there by looking for scat (droppings) or tracks.  Cat tracks are round and typically lack claw marks.  Males will leave scrapes (or scratches).  Cougars do not roar, they scream or “caterwaul” (a shrill howling).  They are the largest cat that can still purr.

mountain lion track

Mountain Lion track

Living or playing in Cougar Country…

  • Be aware of your surroundings at all times; especially if you are sitting quietly.
  • Be especially alert at dawn and dusk when they are more likely to be active.
  • Leave your dog at home or keep it on leash.
  • Hike in groups and let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return.
  • Make noise to alert wildlife to your presence.
  • Keep children and pets close to you.
  • Keep campsites clean.  Sleep 100 yards from cooking areas.
  • Store food in animal-proof containers.
  • Do not approach or feed wildlife.  Prey attracts predators. Avoid baby wildlife.
  • Be aware that animal calls and whistles can attract a cougar.

If you encounter a cougar, stay calm and stand your ground.  Cougars often will retreat if given the opportunity. Leave the animal a way to escape.  Maintain direct eye contact, back away slowly.  If the cat acts aggressively, make yourself look big by raising your arms and yelling.  Do not show fear, crouch down, turn your back, or run.  If attacked, fight back.  Report all attacks to 9-1-1 as soon as possible.

 

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