Sunday, February 15, 2009

Metolius River...More Precious Than Money

I thought this article by Sandy Lonsdale was a good fit here on The Quiet Pool. The Metolius is almost a holy place here in Oregon and it's pristine value cannot be put into dollars and cents. It's unfortunate that some think it can.

Money or Metolius? It’s an easy pick
By Sandy Lonsdale / Bulletin guest columnist

February 15. 2009 4:00AM PST

Is there anything in Central Oregon that is worth more than money? Anything at all that we should conserve and protect in its original form, unimproved? Like a sunny walk on a forest trail under tall pines? Hours of quiet, contemplative fly-fishing on a wild stream? What about sharing a silent sunrise or sunset with your partner while snuggled up in a warm sleeping bag? What’s it worth, or have you missed it?

When we moved to Bend for my dad to start a new business in 1972, Central Oregon was full of million-dollar experiences.

When guests would visit from other states or other countries, we would always make time in their schedules to take them to the head of the Metolius River, walk the West Metolius trail, maybe a picnic at the head of Jack Creek, fishing on the Middle Deschutes, up the road to Mount Bachelor and views of the mighty Cascade peaks, lunch at the Pine Tavern.

These experiences were special to us, and we did our best to show off this place to others and instill the same sense of wonder in them.

Obviously Mr. Lundgren and Jim Kean, the proponents of the roughly 1,500-person development two miles west of Camp Sherman, and others need one of our tours. The idea of an “environmentally sensitive” destination resort in the Metolius basin is about as oxymoronic as anything I’ve heard in awhile. What are these people thinking?

It was bad enough when this entire square mile of ancient forest was clear-cut by the timber industry back in the 1950s and ’60s.

If the new owners want to develop eco-tourism and want a challenge, I suggest they try to bring back the forest that once sheltered this land and nourished its inhabitants for thousands of years.

“Democratize access” to the Wild and Scenic Metolius basin? You mean there is democracy missing now because there are not thousands of people living right on top of it? Today anyone can go there for a visit, the waters flowing and trees growing are owned and managed by and for all of America; they are public resources.

If anything, the Metolian resort, with 450 home sites and 180 lodging units, would privatize and commercialize the area for those who could afford to move there.

When we were through soaking up that sunshine, we picked up the blanket, made sure we left no trace, and headed for home to savor the feeling for as long as we could. Then we worked to protect what we appreciated about this place we called home. We thought and acted beyond self interest for the common interest of all.

The Metolius River, its tributaries and the surrounding national forest and Cascades retain their special character and wonder not by chance. Hundreds and thousands of people have contributed their time, thoughts and energies to keeping this place wild, unsullied and wondrous.

There is an opportunity to act: The Oregon State Land Conservation and Development Commission will hold two more field hearings in Madras to consider a proposal before the legislature to make the Metolius River Basin an Area of Critical State Concern (ACSC).

(The exact time and locations have not been finalized. One will be on Feb. 26 and the second on March 11. Call 503-373-0050 for more information.)

Please attend these hearings and learn more about it. Then act to keep this very special place special for all to come and see, feel, enjoy.

Central Oregon already has the resorts, let’s keep the destination intact and protect the environmentally sensitive. It’s our choice. Call your legislator now; tomorrow may take it away.

Sandy Lonsdale lives in Bend.

Is there a more beautiful river and region in Oregon than the Metolius watershed? I'm asking that not as a fly fisherman but as someone who thinks that there are some places that you just don't mess with.
Ms. Lonsdale understands that and so do thousands of others who visit this special river.
After all do we really need another destination resort especially in this economy? What is there about making another 18 hole golf course in the Metolius watershed that is going to improve your golf game? I'm sure there are those who would love to development the area around Crater Lake...they just don't understand or even try to.
It makes me sick to see the lust for money cloud the vision of people who have no soul and cannot stand to see an area of such beauty just left the hell alone?
My gratitude goes out to those who see the Metolius as a rare gem that cannot be exploited.


  1. That Metolius looks fantastic - a dream of a river. I might have to get out to Oregon.

    Trout season on the Welsh Dee opens up in two weeks. It's been a long winter!

    Tight Lines

  2. Great post - keep fighting the good fight!

  3. Sandy, Thanks for this posting. I don't live in Oregon, but I happened upon the Metolius a few years back on a solo fishing trip through central Oregon. It is a beautiful river with no lack of public access. Hopefully your efforts will help keep it protected and open to the public for a long time to come.