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home : education : schools December 11, 2018

1/13/2015 11:23:00 AM
Land Trust director to speak at forum
Brad Chalfant. photo provided
+ click to enlarge
Brad Chalfant. photo provided

By Craig Eisenbeis

Last year, the Sisters Trails Alliance (STA) began offering a series of formal quarterly presentations by speakers focusing on outdoor recreation. This year, the series continues.

Scheduled to speak next week is Deschutes Land Trust (DLT) Executive Director Brad Chalfant.

Chalfant and DLT have had a tremendous impact on conservation of land and natural resources in the Deschutes River Basin and, even more specifically, in the Sisters area. Actually, the DLT was sort of "born" in Sisters. Created in 1996 to provide stewardship for the Indian Ford Meadow remnant of Indian Ford Ranch, the DLT has grown to include thousands of acres - and it continues to grow.

DLT has also been in the news for its creation of the Camp Polk Meadow Preserve, Whychus Canyon Preserve, and restoration of large portions of Whychus Creek. Its current "Campaign for Whychus Creek" seeks to further protect and restore the creek, which is indisputably an important centerpiece for all of Sisters Country.

Chalfant has a long history in Central Oregon and the Sisters area. An avid outdoorsman, he enjoys hiking, cycling, and skiing. As a long-time trails advocate, he was a cofounder of the Central Oregon Trails Alliance, the parent organization of STA. He went on to co-found the DLT and is currently the senior member of the Oregon State Parks Commission.

Next Thursday's talk is titled "Connecting People to Place," and is expected to focus on DLT's efforts to "protect and restore essential wildlife habitat," as well as touching on the role and operation of a land trust and what that means to the community.

"While our focus is the protection of high-priority wildlife habitat, we try hard to afford appropriate access for the public," Chalfant said.

"We firmly believe that it's important for the public to experience these places and the resources they hold in order to develop both a strong conservation ethic, as well as a connection to this place we call home. Each property is unique," he said. "Where a preserve can afford a reasonable amount of public access, we'll try to develop trails that are open to the general public. Where preserves contain highly sensitive wildlife habitat, access is provided by guided tours."

During the presentation, Chalfant will also report on DLT's newest initiative.

"The Deschutes Land Trust has launched its Campaign for Whychus Creek," he said. "Our hope is to bring it (the creek) back to its full potential, not only for reintroduction of salmon and steelhead, but for the whole range of species that depend upon the creek, its floodplain and associated uplands. The intent is to raise the balance of funds needed to acquire the remaining key properties, raise the funds for their permanent stewardship, as well as raising the funds to create new access and interpretation along lower Whychus Creek.

"Recreation is the driver of Central Oregon's economy. It's a big part of our quality of life and the reason many of us live here," said Chalfant. "For the Land Trust, it's an important tool for connecting people to place and building a conservation ethic. The Sisters Trails Alliance is an increasingly important partner for local land managers, be it the Forest Service or the Deschutes Land Trust, in terms of leveraging limited resources and providing the recreational opportunities our community needs."

STA's newest board member - as of last week - is Bjarne Holm, a geologist with extensive experience in Alaska. A year ago, he was STA's first speaker in this series; and he was so impressed with the work that STA does, that he volunteered to coordinate future speaking events - and now he is also a member of the board.

"My house looks down on Whychus Creek in an area protected by the Deschutes Land Trust," Holm said. "I'm really excited about the restoration of the creek and stream flow."

Holm is also excited to have Chalfant on next week's agenda.

"The STA strives to arrange speakers for the series as an outreach effort to our community on topics relating to trails and other aspects of recreation and our outdoor environment," he said. "The efforts of the Deschutes Land Trust have achieved amazing results leading to the restoration, management and preservation of streams, rivers, and the ecosystem in general within our county. Brad will review accomplishments and future plans for the Land Trust, as well as how citizens of our community can become more involved and become effective stewards of our environment."

The presentation will be held on Thursday, January 22, in the Sisters-Camp Sherman fire station community hall in downtown Sisters at 355 S. Elm St. Doors will open at 6 p.m., and the formal program will begin at 7 p.m. The program is free and open to the public.

For more information about next week's program or the STA, contact Ann Marland at 541-549-7006 or visit

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