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 Adopts The Cove

This year Culver Middle School has adopted The Cove Palisades State Park as part of their STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) program for the 2015/2016 school year.  “Culver Middle School is so fortunate to have the opportunity to work with Cove Palisades State Park, creating real world life experiences that foster 21st century skills to be successful in the future while also arranging a solution to a problem right in our backyard,” says Mr. Brad Kudlac, Principal.

This year natural resource management is really the key focus.  Students are challenged to find solutions to real world problems in their community.  In this case they will be tackling threatened wildlife species, habitat loss from wildfire; as well as sharing local oral history.  Culver Middle School  teachers Mrs. Naomi Little, Mr. Mark Habliston and Mr. Jake Shinkle will bring several classes to the park throughout the year. Students will make significant differences in their community at The Cove by creating a certified monarch butterfly way station to aid in the butterflies successful annual migration, riparian restoration in a burned out area of the Crooked River Wetlands area and encouraging other children to learn about The Cove’s history.

One of the first projects undertaken is willow propagation to help restore sections of the Crooked River Wetlands that were burned in a wildfire over the summer.  This project has already piqued the attention of the Governor’s Office.  Everyone involved is really excited to make a difference that visitors and wildlife will notice and appreciate.

Coyote Willow (Salix exiqua), photo credit USDA

Coyote Willow with it’s long, narrow leaves is the most distinctive of the willow species, is a perennial shrub, native to Central Oregon and much of the west.  This culturally important plant was collected by Native American’s for a variety of uses including food, medicine, building material and basketry material.    It is currently found in the wetlands and is important to birds and wildlife for cover and food.  Willow is also used as stream bank erosion control.



Culver Middle School STEM Class

Twenty-four students from Culver Middle School, accompanied by their teacher Mr. Jake Shinkle, came out to the park and collected more than 200 willow cuttings from existing plants that did not burn in the fire.


Ms. Maggie Prevenas, OSU STEM Outreach Coordinator, taught students that plant communities are constantly changing.  These changes can be very subtle and can be undetected by the casual observer; however from a management perspective detecting change is essential.  Maggie showed six students how to take photo points.

Mr. Shinkle and Ms. Prevenas working with students.

This method consists of taking photographs from two permanently fixed points to monitor change in the plant community over time.  Coyote willow roots freely from cuttings, and is an easy species to propagate.  Students are hoping for an 80% survival rate.  These cuttings were taken to the middle school and will be prepared.  The first step is to soak the cuttings in water.  Students will treat half of the cuttings with growth hormone and leave the other half in plain water.  Once cuttings sprout roots, they will be planted and cared for over the winter.  Next spring students will bring their new plants to the park and will repopulate an area that was devastated last August by wildfire.


Wildfire at The Cove, August 29, 2015 – photo credit Jefferson County Fire


  Area that will be rehabilitated.


Stay tuned for more news on all the projects and how they are progressing…

Spooktacular Skulls

Jolly Roger flown by “Calico Jack”  1718

Avast Matey!

Historically skulls have been used as a warning to scare people away; whether it was primitive tribes mounting skulls on bamboo stakes or the fearsome Jolly Roger flying on the horizon.  The origin of the name is unclear. Jolly Roger had been a generic term for a jovial, carefree man since at least the 17th century and the existing term seems to have been applied to the skeleton or grinning skull in these flags by the early 18th century.

Day of the Dead depicts esqueletos (skeletons) as departed family or friends who have died.Esqueleto at Disneyland

Dios de las Muertos  (The Day of the Dead) is celebrated throughout Mexico and Latin America; as well as the United States, Europe and the Philippines today but the celebration dates back to ancient Aztec traditions more than 3,000 years ago to honor the dead.

This celebration in Mexico lasts for three days, children will often build ofrendas (alters) on October 31, All Hallows Eve, to invite the angelitos (child) spirits to come back to visit.  On November 1, All Saints Day the adult spirits come to visit.  On November 2, All Souls Day, is when families go to the cemeteries to decorate the graves of their relatives with marigolds, tissue paper flowers, cardboard esqueletos (skeletons), photos, incense, and favorite foods.


So why are bones so scary to us?  Biologically, fear exists in living creatures as a response to stimuli that threatens its survival both individually or as a species. It is instinct to fight or run from anything that might cause death.  Many people approach death itself with the same attitude. Whether faced with a spooky, old cemetery or finding a bone near a trail, many people will feel at least a little uneasy.  Throw in a crow’s caw in the distance or watch the turkey vultures circle overhead, twilight approaching and you have the makings of Stephen King novel.


At The Cove you don’t have to walk very far to find a bone or even an entire skeleton.  We have plenty of carnivores (i.e. coyotes, cougars, otters, eagles) that don’t clean up after themselves very well.  Just yesterday I was hiking and found the remains of a mule deer.  Animals don’t intentionally put bones out to scare humans but it does raise the question of who ate it and where are they now?

For some Halloween fun – can you guess what animals these bones belong to?  Come back on October 31st and find out the answers.

photo credit Manitoba Museum


photo credit: Pinterest


File:Nature - rattlesnake skeleton.jpg
photo credit – Scream Wiki


photo credit – unknown


photo credit – Discovery Magazine

Lake Billy Chinook Safe for July 4th Weekend

News Release // Oregon Parks and Recreation Dept. // FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE // July 1, 2015
Media Contact:  Dave Slaght, Park Manager, 541-546-2862 ext. 225

State park and marina at Lake Billy Chinook get all-clear for holiday weekend

Culver OR – The Oregon Health Authority has lifted their June 25 water quality advisory for Lake Billy Chinook (http://tinyurl.com/billychinookwater).

The Cove Palisades State Park has some campsites remaining for Thursday stays, but the holiday weekend is booked. The park receives more than 77,000 campers and 400,000 day visitors a year.
“Bring your kids and your boats, and come enjoy the lake,” says Park Manager Dave Slaght. “It’s going to be a beautiful weekend. Enjoy it safely.”
Personal watercraft, ski boats, pontoon boats, party barges, kayaks and paddle boards are all available for reservation and rental through summer, even for the holiday weekend and other prime dates, from the full-service marina (http://covepalisadesresort.com/). The marina also has houseboats sleeping 6-14 people ready to rent. Call 541-546-9999 ext. 2 for more information.

A view of the Island, a NPS Natural National Landmark.  Isn't she a beaut!
Boating on Lake Billy Chinook

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.