Archive for the ‘Articles’ Category

Fishing With a Purpose

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015
Rubin proudly displays his catch. It is the smallest fish caught during a family outing at Mossyrock, Washington. Anybody can catch big fish. It takes a special talent to reel in one this small, especially when the bait is almost bigger than the fish. Photo by Tillie Vuksich of Eatonville, Washington

Rubin proudly displays his catch. It is the smallest fish caught during a family outing at Mossyrock, Washington. Anybody can catch big fish. It takes a special talent to reel in one this small, especially when the bait is almost bigger than the fish.
Photo by Tillie Vuksich of Eatonville, Washington

Let’s face it, most of us will never catch a record-breaking fish. We have a better chance of winning the lottery.
Not to worry. There are other ways to demonstrate fishing prowess and create fodder for storytelling sessions back at the local café.

For example, why not set a goal to catch one of everything? It’s what you might call an angler’s bucket list.

As far as what “everything” includes, it’s up to each angler to decide. It could be the biggest or smallest species, the best fighters, all of the species found within a 100-mile radius of home, or every species of freshwater or saltwater fish in the state.

Compiling a fishing bucket list is similar to setting goals for other areas of your life: Have a big-picture view of what you want to achieve. Break it down into smaller, manageable pieces, and figure out how best to go about achieving them—in this case, how you will go about hooking each fish on your list.

Dare to dream big, but keep your list achievable to avoid disappointment. Set priorities and focus your efforts on landing the most important catches on your list first.

Commit your list to paper. How extensive it is should be based on available resources, such as how much time you have, the gear you own or your proximity to prime fishing areas.

Keep track of your catches. Jot down details and special moments. It is easy to forget things, especially when working on a long list that may take years—or even decades—to complete. And don’t forget to include photos.

One final word of advice: Consider using a guide when fishing in unfamiliar territory, or when equipment requirements exceed the tackle and gear you own.

Outdoors 101: Finger Meets Fish Hook

What angler hasn’t stuck a finger with a fish hook? Deep hooks should be treated by a medical professional, while superficial cases can be self-treated with the jerk-string method of removal.

Tie or loop a string or length of fishing line around the bend of the hook.

Gently press down on the eyelet end of the hook to disengage the barb. While continuing to press down, give a quick jerk on the string. The hook should pop out without much pain or difficulty.

Be sure to wash, disinfect and cover the wound. Monitor it for signs of infection.

As they say, pictures are worth a thousand words. Here is a link to an illustrated guide to removing a fish hook on The Art of Manliness website:


What Day is It?

  • April 3, National Walk to Work Day.
  • April 14, Look Up at the Sky Day.
  • April 17, Bat Apprecia-tion Day.
  • April 22, Girl Scout Leader Day.

Got a Tip or a Whopper?
Send us your favorite outdoor tip, photo or story. If selected, we will send you $25 for one-time use of the item. When sending a photo, identify people and pets, and tell us the story behind the photo. Email your submission to moc.etilarurnull@ofni.


24authMany of Curtis Condon’s fondest memories involve outdoor adventures with friends and family, whether fishing with old school buddies, backpacking in the mountains of the Northwest with his sons or bird watching along the Coast with his wife. He feels fortunate to have had the opportunity to write about the outdoors and other subjects for more than 30 years.

The Bobby Doerr Story

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015
    Photo courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection

Photo courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection

Bobby Doerr has embraced five great loves in his life: family, faith, friends, fishing and baseball.

He graduated from Freemont High School in Los Angeles in 1936. A year later, he began his major league baseball career with the Boston Red Sox, getting three hits in five at-bats in his first game.

Bobby moved to Oregon in the 1930s, where he met and married a teacher named Monica Terpin in 1938. They had a son, Don, in 1942, and the family lived in tiny Illahe, Oregon.

Though he loved the West Coast, his Oregon home and fishing, he played all of his 14 major league seasons on the East Coast with the Red Sox.

One of the most productive second basemen of all time, Bobby had 12 consecutive seasons with 10 or more home runs and 73 or more runs batted in.

“The silent captain of the Red Sox,” as Ted Williams called his close friend, Bobby, batted over .300 three times, hit more than 20 home runs three times and knocked in more than 100 runs six times.

Doerr served in the Army during World War II and missed the 1945 baseball season. He returned the next season, helping the Red Sox win the pennant. During the World Series against the Cardinals, Doerr batted .406 with one home run and three RBIs.

Adding to his offensive proficiency, the soft-handed Doerr was one of the best fielding second basemen of all time, ending his 14-year career with an incredible .980 fielding percentage.


By the Numbers

  • 2,024 career hits
  • 1,247 runs batted in
  • 1,094 runs scored
  • 693 extra-base hits
  • 223 home runs
  • 89 triples
  • .461 slugging percentage
  • .362 on-base percentage
  • .288 career batting average
  • Nine-time All Star
  • Bobby averaged 177 hits, 108 RBIs and 95 runs scored per season
  • Second base was the only position he ever played
  • Played for only one team: the Boston Red Sox
  • Oldest living member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame
  • Last man alive to play major league baseball in the 1930s
  • Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1986
  • His jersey No. 1 was retired by the Red Sox in 1988

A Cycling Haven in the Hills

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

The entrance to the Coastal Mountain Sport Haus reflects the essence of the experience awaiting visitors.

Coastal Mountain Sport Haus inspired by trip to Northern Italy

By Victoria Hampton

Bassano Del Grappa in Northern Italy isknown for its bounty of white asparagus, hospitality and scenic cycling routes at the foothills of the Venetian Prealps.

Having cycled in this picturesque area in 2002 and 2004, Sandy and Glen Crinklaw wanted to recreate their experience for guests at the Coastal Mountain Sport Haus in Vernonia, Oregon.

“It is a significant part of the population’s lifestyle in that region,” Glen says of cycling. “That’s what people do. We decided to take that experience and merge it with country living.”

The Coastal Mountain Sport Haus opened for business in 2009 and began catering to cyclists looking for a taste of Italy in rural America. Guests enjoy a retreat-like setting to bike rural roads, participate in a yoga session instructed by Sandy or simply relax.

The journey to creating this retreat wasn’t a ride in the park.

Sandy and Glen lived in Hillsboro, Oregon, prior to building the sport haus. Glen worked for the city parks department and Sandy worked as a development director at the Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve.

As Hillsboro grew, the Crinklaws decided life in the country was more appealing than the suburbs.

“We reached the opportunity to swap our urban lifestyle for a rural lifestyle,” says Glen.

The 100-acre farm in Vernonia had been owned by Sandy’s family since 1938 and was a great location for a rural homestead. The Crinklaws soon discovered zoning laws restricted them to 32 conditional uses of their property. None included a private home.

“I grew up here,” says Sandy, who had fond memories of the property from her childhood. “It didn’t feel right to walk away from the property.”

A hunting and fishing lodge was included in the list of uses. With a small change in wording, the Crinklaws were allowed to build a recreational house.

“It made us rethink how to live on the property,” says Glen.

In 2007, Glen and Sandy quit their jobs to start planning their sport haus.

“It was like stepping off the edge of a cliff,” says Glen. “We had a limited budget, but we stuck to ours pretty good.”

The sport haus took a year to build. Glen had experience building houses with his dad, which allowed the Crinklaws to do most of the construction.

“Luckily, we were the general contractors,” says Sandy. “We were also able to find the right contractors who shared our vision of what we wanted to do.”

Because of their memorable cycling experience abroad, they decided to bring an Italian twist to their retreat home. The sport haus features meals crafted for a high-protein, carbohydrate-rich cycling diet; simplistic, cozy rooms; a yoga studio; warm colors; local wood accents; an espresso bar; access to hiking and biking trails; and scenic views of an open meadow home to the Crinklaws’ Piedmontese cattle, native to Northern Italy.

Although the exterior of the house does not reflect the classic Palladian architecture found in Europe, the hospitality of their sport haus truly speaks to “what avid cyclists enjoy while on vacation,” says Glen.

“Cycling activity is paramount, and everything reflects that,” Glen says. “Rooms are simple and clean. Meals are over the top quality and quantity.”

The meals feature many local ingredients from farmers’ markets and the Portland area.

The Crinklaws incorporate yoga into their activities because of the nature of cyclists.

“Yoga adds an appreciation of place, serenity, mostly the experience of being in the country,” says Sandy.

Sandy instructs classes for guests who request them. They also facilitate yoga retreats where an outside instructor hosts a retreat for yoga enthusiasts.

The sport haus can accommodate nine people comfortably. The most the Crinklaws have had staying at one time was 16. The past five years, guests have come from Alaska to New York.

Business grows with each season, from mid-March to mid-November.

Many cyclists ride from Portland to the Coastal Mountain Sport Haus, which is about a two-hour ride.

Once guests arrive, Sandy and Glen cater to their every need.

The Crinklaws say this is a great place for people to come to relax and unplug from the fast pace of an urban lifestyle.

They tell guests to “just get themselves here and everything (will be) taken care of for them,” says Sandy.

Glen says the goal of the sport haus is like most businesses: satisfied customers.

“When the guests leave, they have smiles on their faces,” says Glen.

For more information about the Coastal Mountain Sport Haus, visit

An Uncommon Bond

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015
Longtime friends Shuree Sleeper and baseball Hall of Famer Bobby Doerr chat and hold hands as he prepares to autograph baseball cards and pictures for his fans.

Longtime friends Shuree Sleeper and baseball Hall of Famer Bobby Doerr chat and hold hands as he prepares to autograph baseball cards and pictures for his fans.

Caregiver Shuree Sleeper has been a bright spot in the life of 96-year-old baseball Hall of Famer Robert “Bobby” Doerr for nearly a half century

Story and photos by David LaBelle

“Good morning, Bob,” Shuree Sleeper shouts, greeting the oldest living member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

“Oh, hi honey,” responds 96-year-old Robert “Bobby” Doerr, running a hand over his scalp. “How’s my hair?”

“You look good!” Shuree shouts again.

“Well, OK,” he says, fixing his aqua blue eyes on the rust-haired woman he has known for nearly a half century.

Shuree is a private caregiver to the last living man to play major league baseball in the 1930s. Though his hearing has faded, his wit and recall seem unimpaired. He is thoughtful and speaks deliberately, careful to say only what he means.

“I heard you took a trip to the hospital last night,” Shuree says, leaning over her boss and lifelong friend.

She doesn’t baby talk the aging celebrity, like some well-intentioned caregivers.

“Yeah,” Bobby says matter-of-factly. “I had a little trouble.”
Shuree spots the IV stint still in his arm, and a fire grows in her hazel eyes. As protective as a mother cat, she growls, “They didn’t remove the stint.”

She wants to know why.


A Life-Changing Opportunity

The two first met when Shuree, 50, was just a little girl and attended the same church in Junction City, Oregon. But the bond was forged when the then 23-year-old unwed mother began cleaning the house of Bobby and Monica Doerr.

“I was dead broke, had a 2½-month-old baby, all of that, and it was just rough,” remembers Shuree. “They had no questions, no this, no that, and it was just well, OK. They took me as I am and we just got on so well.

“They were so funny, you almost had to make them let you do stuff for them. It took me, I don’t know how long, to dust the whole house and the den. Monie would go, ‘Oh, just vacuum over there. That is enough for today.’ They were always concerned they were going to wear me out. It cracked me up.”

Thankful for the work, but still insecure about her job future with the Doerrs, Shuree fondly remembers one reassuring day.
“I was inside cleaning, and Bob and Monie were working outdoors when the phone rang,” Shuree says. “I answered. Turns out it was Ted Williams.”

Dubbed the greatest hitter who ever lived, Ted was a former teammate of Bobby’s from the Boston Red Sox.

“He didn’t say who he was,” Shuree says. “Bob gets quite a few people who call him. No biggie.”

“Well, do you think you can find him for me?” the caller asked. “This is Ted.”

“I went Ted? Uh? Then I heard him laugh in the background.”

“You just tell him that Ted’s on the phone, and he’ll know who I am.”

“I put down the phone and went running outside to find Bob, who was hoeing weeds and talking with Monie. I told him there is a Ted on the phone.”

“He said, ‘Ted?’ Then Monie looked at him. ‘Ted Willams.’

“’Ted!’ he cries, as he drops the shovel and goes chugging into the house. ‘Ted! Hey, how are you? You didn’t yell at her too hard, did you? We’d kinda like to keep her around.’

“He told Ted Williams he would kinda like to keep me,” Shuree recalls, her voice cracking.

Bobby holds a Merchant Marine flag aloft as Shuree pushes him during a local Fourth of July celebration.

Bobby holds a Merchant Marine flag aloft as Shuree pushes him during a local Fourth of July celebration.

Not Just a Job

A job cleaning for the Doerrs that began 27 years ago has grown into an enduring friendship.

“They are like family,” says Shuree.

The later years she was a personal caregiver for Monica, who battled multiple sclerosis since her late 30s and died in December 2003. Shuree then cared for Bobby and his sister, Dorothy. The pair lived together for about a year until Dorothy’s passing at 91, three years ago.

“I can’t imagine how different my life would have been without Bob and Monica,” Shuree says. “She was so sweet, so kind. They were so much alike, like two peas in a pod.”

Shuree describes herself as a Type A personality: hyperactive, often anxious and admittedly insecure. In contrast, Bobby is calm, confident and steadfast.

Through the years, her relationship with the wise and gentle celebrity has become more like that of a father and daughter than a client and caregiver.

Although the Doerrs had a son, Don, they never had a daughter.

Shuree says Bobby has always “kinda settled” her, and through tough times would calmly encourage her.

One thing they share is a youthful appearance. Both look and act much younger than their years.

Approaching the century mark, Bobby is as handsome late in life as he was as a young man. He has his own teeth, a healthy head of white groomed hair and striking blue eyes.

Trim, with a little girl’s face, Shuree, 50, has the look of a woman years younger.


Not Her Intended Career Plan

Shuree cleaned houses while in high school and volunteered at a nursing home.

“I just got on with the people,” she remembers. “I would hold their hands, talk to them and listen to their stories.”

She continued to clean houses after graduation, always determined to get a college degree “to prepare for a better life.”

She did not intend to make a career of caregiving, nor did she plan to continue cleaning houses. But 30 years later, she still is doing both.

In her early 30s, Shuree enrolled in community college and began pursuing a bookkeeping degree, which she says was no small feat.

“I was having a hard time for a long time because I struggled in school,” she says. “I had to get A’s, and I about made myself a nervous wreck.”

It was during this difficult time her clients, including Bobby, gave her the greatest support.

“I have never been a confident person, and these people have been a balm to my ego and my soul,” she says. “They’re just wonderful to be around. They are like, ‘Honey, you are just so wonderful. We just love you. Please don’t ever leave me.’ They get tears in their eyes if they think I am not going to be there any more.”

Shuree fights her own tears remembering some of the people she has cared for.

“I just love these people,” she says. “I love ’em to death. I connect to them. I don’t see them like a lot of people do. I find them fascinating, vibrant, loving. They are the most appreciative persons.”

After earning her associate degree, Shuree felt relieved and “a sense of accomplishment” and found work as a bookkeeper.

“When I graduated from college, I said, ‘I’m not going to be doing that anymore,’” she remembers, laughing. “I said I have been housecleaning for a long time. It is hard, hard work. I can’t do this forever.”

But after three or four years, she realized bookkeeping was not where her heart was. She missed the human interaction.

“I will just sit in an office and do bookwork?” she asks rhetorically. “No! I don’t know. I just gravitated right back to it.

“I keep thinking, ‘Shuree, you’re just cleaning stuff again. What were you thinking? All that money and all that effort and nearly a nervous breakdown getting though school, and you are back at it?’”

She rolls her eyes.


A Balancing Act

With at least eight clients to care for and houses to clean, in addition to being a wife and mother, her life now is a complicated balancing act.

Shuree and her husband, Scott, recently celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary, and have two sons together: Morgan, 27, and Alex, 18.

She said she has “tried and tried” to find part-time work that allows her to work around when Bobby needs her, but that it is not easy to find.

“There is no way on earth I would leave Mr. Doerr,” she says adamantly.

She refers to him as Mr. Doerr, but calls him Bob to his face.

She laughs, thinking how difficult it was to learn to call her boss by his first name.

“It was hard for me because I didn’t call Mr. Doerr anything but Mr. Doerr until after Monica died,” she says. “He is sitting there at breakfast one day and says, ‘Shuree, do you think we’ve known each other long enough now that you could call me Bob?’”

Shuree works for Bobby three days a week now, but usually stops by daily to check on her friend.

As difficult as her life is now—juggling caregiving, housecleaning, marriage and motherhood—she assures she “wouldn’t trade it for money.”

“I have been so lucky,” she says. “It’s been wonderful, a wonderful time.”

Bobby’s son, Don, 71, is naturally protective of his aging father.

“I trust her totally,” he says of Shuree. “She has been a faithful caregiver, always going out of her way to help and protect Dad with his correspondence, medical deliveries and other issues. Frankly, without her assistance, I don’t think he’d be able to function as well as he does, even with the staff support at the retirement center.”


A Two-Way Fan Club

Bobby and Shuree have mutual admiration for each other.

“Anybody who is around you is a better person,” Shuree says, raising her voice loud enough so Bobby will be sure to hear her.

Bobby hears and modestly deflects the praise.

“She does everything for me,” he says. “I’ve known her for years, and she’s right there all the time. She’s a good one.”

Shuree credits Bob and Monica.

“They make you a better person,” she says. “People who have been around them have been better people. He has really touched and moved people, and they even made changes in their own lives. It’s just remarkable. To this day, they still write him and thank him.”

Shuree turns and shouts, “I love you to bits, honey, you know that. You’ve been awfully good to me.”

Bobby dodges the praise.

“Well, you are easy to be good to,” he says.

Asked if Shuree has been like a daughter to him, Bobby’s blue eyes open wide and twinkle. He smiles unabashed and pats her on the knee.

“Oh, yeah, she was my daughter alright, whether or not I had her,” he says. “She’s my girl, from that high.”

He extends his right hand from the lap of his wheelchair and measures about two feet from the floor.

“You and Monie always said you’d adopt me,” Shuree shouts. “I was awful grateful for that. But my dad decided he’d hang onto me anyway.”

He pats her folded hands and adoringly repeats, “Whether or not I had her, she’s my daughter.”

Shuree gets quietly emotional thinking about the inevitable day when she no longer will be able to say good morning or watch “Wheel of Fortune” or a baseball game with the man she adores.

Her eyes begin to fill with tears.

“I don’t know,” Shuree says. “He’s so grounded and so assured in his faith that I keep remembering, it’s not like I’m not ever going to see him again.”

There is a long silence and then the nursing home intercom squawks with the day’s announcements.

“I wish we had an off switch for that thing—it drives me nuts!” barks Shuree, seizing the opportunity to escape her melancholy and recapture her feisty spirit.

“What time does Boston play?” Bobby asks.

Beekeeping: How Sweet It Is

Friday, February 27th, 2015



Bees work on a honeycomb. Beekeeping dates to 6,000 B.C., based on a rock painting found in Spain. There are an estimated 115,000 to 125,000 beekeepers in the United States. Those with five or more colonies produced 149 million pounds of honey in 2013. iStock/Grafissimo

Threatened honeybees important to economy, agriculture

By Victoria Hampton

Small clouds of smoke fill the air as Clint Carl uses a smoker to calm a box of bees before his inspection. Once the buzzing of the disturbed bees becomes a relaxed hum, he lifts up the lid, exposing a world 50,000 bees strong.

Honeybees land on Clint’s exposed shoulders and hands. His fingers gently lift one frame after another, searching for the bee responsible for this catacombed colony.

“There she is,” Clint says as he spots the queen at the bottom of a frame, nestled in a bed of bee larvae.

Clint is just one player in an industry vital to crop production and, by extension, the nation’s economy. However, the future is uncertain because of challenges such as mysterious bee die-offs that have researchers and beekeepers searching for answers.

Clint says the best part of his job as a beekeeper for his family’s business, Mt. Adams Honey in Zillah, Washington, is caring for the hives.

“I like to get inside the hives and manipulate their world to make it better,” he says.

His family has been in the business of beekeeping for more than 40 years. Clint picked up the trade from his grandfather and mother.

As he became invested in beekeeping, he traveled to California to learn how to breed queen bees.

“I learned a lot of new practices while there that I use with our bee business,” says Clint.

Mt. Adams Honey is a migratory bee company, which means it moves its bees to pollinate crops on the West Coast year-round. From November to March, Clint’s bees are stationed in California. They then are moved back to areas in Washington, such as the base of Mount Adams and Spokane.

Among the crops Clint’s bees help pollinate are almonds, vegetables, snowberries and apricots.

Mt. Adams Honey harvests the bees’ honey in August. It is processed for two months and bottled. It is sold at several fruit stands, and the company has its own website and eBay sales.

“Beekeeping is a huge world,” says Clint. “There’s a lot to it. It’s hard to put it all into a nutshell.”

Modern-day beekeeping businesses are products of the honeybee’s propagation in the United States.

“Humans have kept bees for thousands of years for honey,” says assistant horticulture professor Ramesh Sagili. “Honeybees were introduced by the Europeans in the 1600s. They knew how to keep bees, and that is how bees were populated here.”

Today, honeybees are responsible for $20 million worth of pollination a year, says Ramesh, who researches honeybees at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon.

“They pollinate 90 different crops,” Ramesh says. “In California, they pollinate 900,000 acres of almonds. Blueberries and pears in Oregon wouldn’t be possible without bees. Our nutrition would be greatly affected without (them).”




Ramesh Sagili, assistant horticulture professor at Oregon State University, checks the bee frame, above, and measures the sugar content of the nectar stored in a honeybee’s crop, top, as part of his research into the health of honeybees. Photos by Carolyn Breece

In turn, honeybees create a variety of honey that takes on different colors and flavors depending on the types of crops or plants they pollinate.

Thistle honey is a rich molasses color that beekeeper Jim Buxton harvests in Vernonia, Oregon.

Since 1973, Jim has kept bees as a hobby, selling small amounts of honey.

“I was interested in agriculture and wondered what I could do here to be self-sufficient,” says Jim.

Through the years, Jim has kept as many as 22 hives. Right now he has just one on his property.

The bees he keeps feed off fireweed and thistle from a clearcut behind his home.
“This last year I had a weak colony,” Jim says.

Rather than harvest the small amount of honey the bees produced, “I let them keep it,” Jim says.

As a hobbyist, Jim says he has no problem leaving the honey if a hive is not thriving. But a low population and accumulation of honey can be detrimental to farmers who depend on bees for pollination and companies that depend on sales of honey, he notes.

During 2006-2007, beekeepers nationwide reported 50 to 80 percent colonization loss, which represents the total number of bees.

“There are a lot of stress factors on bees, such as malnutrition, migration, pesticides and not having a diversified diet,” says Ramesh.

Add a weakened immune system and the problems are compounded, he says.

Among the biggest threat to honeybees are mites. Varroa mites were introduced to the United States in 1987. The mites suck the blood of bees, transmitting seven different viruses that then kill the bee. Another mite that affects bees is the tracheal mite. It attaches itself to the bee’s airway, deteriorating the bee’s lungs so it cannot fly.

“Our bees don’t have a resistance against them,” says Ramesh.

Some companies and beekeepers treat their bees for mites with store-bought chemicals or natural remedies.

“When you don’t treat the bees, they generally die,” says Clint. “We’ve went through different all-natural treatments to keep them alive.”

He uses menthol, thyme oil and hops.

Bees also are susceptible to parasites and fungi.

The extent of the problem has changed in the 17 years Barbara Stockwell has managed her family-owned Stockwell Honey Co. in Arivaca, Arizona.

In the early years, she says, the only diseases she had to worry about were different types of fungal diseases. That changed when her company started transporting bees to California for the almond harvest.

“People bring in bees from all over the country to California, and now you catch everything,” says Barbara.

Since 2006, Ramesh says, beekeepers have reported average annual losses of 30 percent.

“The reason for decline is a multifactorial, complex problem,” he says.
Colony collapse disorder is a blanket term coined in 2006 to help explain what was happening to the honeybees. Ramesh says it is not one disorder, but a combination of factors that causes bees to abandon hives or results in the death of the entire colony.

“These are a mix of all different stressors that compromise bee immune systems,” he explains.

While researchers have an idea of the statistical honeybee decline, they do not know the effect on native bees.

“Native bees that are in the wild—no one has done studies on those populations,” says Ramesh. “Some bumblebee species have completely disappeared on the West Coast.”

Other concerns Ramesh has for the future of honey and native bees center on climate change.

“We have seen some plants blooming earlier than they did 10 or 15 years ago,” he says. “Plants blooming early or late could pose a problem because bees won’t have access to the flowers they are used to.”

Ramesh also is concerned the beekeeper population is growing older, with younger people uninterested in the trade.

He recognizes beekeeping is not a very profitable enterprise, and that it is an intense, specialized trade. But he stresses that pollination is essential to the prosperity of crop and plant growth.

Beekeeping associations are trying to inspire the next generation.

The Southcentral Alaska Beekeepers Association in Anchorage, Alaska, has monthly meetings, inviting members to share discoveries in their beekeeping regimen and offering help to those new to the trade.

“It’s quite a vibrant club,” says president Steve Victors. “We have about 150 members. It’s good for beginning beekeepers to talk to more experienced beekeepers about complications with hives and general questions.”

During each monthly meeting, the club discusses beekeeping strategies, and plans educational activities for the state fair and beekeeping classes.

Steve started beekeeping in 1996 after a large wildfire burned a portion of his property. His family bought 10,000 trees to replant the area and got bees to help pollinate to re-establish the undergrowth.

“Our honey started out with a large fireweed component,” says Steve. “As the understory came back it added a wild flower component.”

A large percentage of fireweed honey is a combination of wild raspberries, wild roses and other lowland flowers, Steve says.

In time, Steve went from two hives to 120. In recent years, he has scaled back to 15.

Steve learned the trade from attending a beginner course in beekeeping and from talking with other local beekeepers.

As president of the Southcentral Alaska Beekeepers Association, Steve orders large shipments of bees for beekeepers throughout the area.

“We bring in about 1,500 packages per year distributed from Fairbanks to Homer,” says Steve.

The bees are shipped to Alaska in mid-April from Sacramento, California. The bees come in 4-pound packages. One package satisfies one hive.

Jim Buxton also buys his bees every year—although one season he harvested his own hive from the wild.

In the woods of Vernonia, Jim strung a pulley system from a bee box to the branch of a tree where a large hive was built. He scaled the tree, cut the limb and, sure enough, the hive landed right on the box.

However, during the limb sawing, a few bees dropped onto Jim and crawled under his pant legs, resulting in a series of stings.

Jim says he has never climbed down from 20 feet up a pine tree so fast in his life.
No matter the methods or struggles behind beekeeping, the nature of the trade keeps people harvesting hives year after year.

“It’s a great thing to do,” says Jim. “It is just the science of it. It’s like the hive is an organism that consists of all of these single individuals. There isn’t any one thing as fascinating.”

As the sun sets over the roaming hills of central Washington, Clint closes the lid on the bee box and leaves the bees to what they do best.

For today, this colony is secure and healthy. From sunrise to sunset, each hive will multiply, pollinate and produce.

Although the future of honeybees is uncertain, the people behind the beekeeping trade keep these vital creatures alive for the benefit of crop producers and consumers alike.

Spring Cleaning Without the Dust

Friday, February 27th, 2015
Take time at least once a year to inspect, clean and organize your fishing gear and tackle box. Consider making a checklist of things to do to keep your gear in good condition and ready for action during future outings. Photo by iStock/Doug4537

Take time at least once a year to inspect, clean and organize your fishing gear and tackle box. Consider making a checklist of things to do to keep your gear in good condition and ready for action during future outings.
Photo by iStock/Doug4537

March is spring cleaning time. That goes for fishing gear, too. Not only is it a good time to muck out the tackle box, but it’s an opportunity to inspect, clean, replace and restock rods, reels and tackle.

  • Inspect rods closely. Look for cracks, nicks and loose parts. Pay particular attention to the guides, ferrules and reel seat. These are where problems are most likely to occur. Repair or replace as necessary.
  • Get reels in top spinning condition. Perform one or two casts and retrieves to see if they are working properly and smoothly. If necessary, clean parts with Reel Kleen or similar reel cleaner, and apply lubrication as recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Off with the old. Fishing line can become brittle and memory coiled in time. Replace with new line. Be sure to dispose of the old line properly.
  • Get the point. Keeping hooks sticky sharp is important. It can mean the difference between success and failure. It’s also one of those things many of us don’t take time to do on a regular basis.
  • Use it or lose it. Weed out unnecessary lures and other tackle. If you haven’t used it in a long time, get rid of it to make room for tackle you will use. Put the old stuff in a “loaner” tackle box for kids or fair-weather anglers who come to visit.
  • Replace old jar bait and plastics. Jar bait gets old fairly quickly once it’s opened. Toss it when it gets hard. The same is true of plastic baits, which lose their resilience, stiffen and crack with age.

Outdoors 101:
Know Your Wild Plants

Outdoor enthusiasts should have at least a basic knowledge of trees and plants they may encounter. A generic field guide is helpful, but may not be enough because identifying features of plants and trees may vary by region.
Whenever possible, acquire plant information locally, whether by consulting a local expert or referencing a state- or region-specific field guide.

Helpful Hints for Hydration Bladders

  • Fill the bladder with equal portions of ice and water to keep water cold longer. This works especially well for long, hot day hikes.
  • Use a mild flavor enhancer—such as Nuun tablets—to mask the plastic-like taste of some types of bladders.
  • Always carry the bladder in a protected area within the backpack, away from other gear, to guard against punctures and ruptures.
  • Invest in a cleaning kit. Most come with a brush, drying hanger, and cleaning tablets or solutions.
  • When not in use, detach the hose and mouthpiece, and store them and the open bladder in a dry, dust-free place.

Got a Tip or a Whopper?
Send us your favorite outdoor tip, photo or story. If selected, we will send you $25 for one-time use of the item.

When sending a photo, identify people and pets, and tell us the story behind the photo. Email your submission to moc.etilarurnull@ofni.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMany of Curtis Condon’s fondest memories involve outdoor adventures with friends and family, whether fishing with old school buddies, backpacking in the mountains of the Northwest with his sons or bird watching along the Coast with his wife. He feels fortunate to have had the opportunity to write about the outdoors and other subjects for more than 30 years.

How You Can Help Native and Domestic Bees

Friday, February 27th, 2015

Photo courtesy of Joe Marchionno

Beekeepers and researchers nationwide have seen staggering honeybee die offs since 2006.

While it is easy to determine a statistical mortality of honeybees because of commercial and hobby beekeepers, the loss of native bees is more challenging. However, native bees can be affected by the same diseases as honeybees, and some experts suggest honeybees out-compete native bees for nectar and pollen, resulting in habitat fragmentation.

Gardeners can help bee populations by putting a little buzz in their lives, taking the following steps to protect these vivacious pollinators:

  • Plant a pollinator garden. Some people may not want bees in their backyards for fear of being stung, but most native bees rarely sting gardeners. Many government agencies, organizations and private individuals offer information to help pollinators receive a rich, varied diet and safe nesting areas. For information about how to create a proper habitat for bees and a list of plants that attract bees, contact the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign (
  • Avoid pesticides or choose non-chemical solutions for insect problems. Researchers theorize pesticides may be one of the reasons for the loss of bees. If you choose to use pesticides, spray them when pollinators are not active, such as before dawn and at sundown. To ensure pollinators do not sip contaminated nectar or carry off contaminated pollen, avoid applying the pesticide directly onto the flowers.
  • Provide a source of pesticide-free water and mud. A clean source limits the exposure to toxins that may be in the garden. Mud is used as an important nesting material for some bee species.
  • Mimic what grows naturally in your region. The pollinators in your area are used to feeding off the native foliage and can attract even more of these insects to your garden. Planting native flowering trees, shrubs and wildflowers that bloom successively throughout the seasons will help pollinators year round.
  • Reduce the size of your lawn. Replace it with a pollinator garden filled with flowers, plants and shrubs, or avoid pesticides and herbicides to allow more small wildflowers and plants such as clover, plantago and veronicas to grow in your lawn.
  • Provide nesting areas. Bees want to stay where they find a healthy food source. A small bare spot of soil, a pile of sand, standing dead trees, stumps and logs are great for bee nesting. So are bee houses that can be purchased or built. Homemade bee nests can be made of hollow paper tubes the size of drinking straws. Another option is to tie a bunch of hollow twigs together, place them in a small milk carton and hang them horizontally facing south or southeast.

Native and domestic bees maintain a balanced ecosystem and help our crops flourish. In return for their service, apply these tips to any garden or landscaping to give them a larger habitat and keep them around for generations to come.

Source: U.S. Forest Service and the Pollinator Partnership

A Haven for Healing

Friday, February 27th, 2015


Lynn Tompkins holds a blind barn owl. The owl is used in Blue Mountain Wildlife educational programs the organization hosts throughout Eastern Oregon and Eastern Washington.

Blue Mountain Wildlife rehab center welcomes injured birds of every feather

By Victoria Hampton

The wide-open spaces of Eastern Oregon seem like an ideal setting for spreading a pair of wings and riding the wind. For many birds that call this area home or a migratory pit stop, several hazards can land them at Blue Mountain Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education in Pendleton.

“If there’s a way to get in trouble, they’ll figure it out,” says Director Lynn Tompkins.

Blue Mountain Wildlife was created by Lynn and her husband, Bob. The nonprofit was incorporated in 1992 and has admitted more than 5,000 animals, most being wild birds.

Lynn first learned wildlife rehabilitation when she was a vet tech at the Pendleton clinic where the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife brought injured animals. For 26 years, she has rehabbed animals.

“Most injuries the birds come in with are human caused,” says Lynn.

One of the oldest birds at the center is Ruby, a 23-year-old red-tailed hawk. Ruby arrived 21 years ago after being hit by a car. The Tompkins try to rehab and release as many birds as they can. In Ruby’s case, she was unable to take care of herself in the wild.

“We’re going to do what’s best for the bird,” says Bob. “We give them the best chance they’re going to get.”

Bob says running the rehab center is a 365-day-a-year job that involves picking up injured birds, diagnosing and caring for their injuries, feeding them, cleaning cages, performing educational programs and raising money to keep the nonprofit in flight.

“Most people have more sense than to do this for a career,” Lynn says.

The Tompkins have made Blue Mountain Wildlife more than a rehab center. They also have education programs and an internship program.

“You can do all the rehab you want, but education is key,” says Lynn.

The Tompkins take their non-releasable birds of prey to classrooms, outdoor schools and public venues to educate people about the birds’ life history, their role in a healthy environment and how they can co-exist with native wildlife. They reach an average of 10,000 students a year in Eastern Oregon and Washington.

“People get to see them up close and appreciate them,” Lynn says.

Highlights of the presentations include pellet dissection and informational displays.

College students interested in an animal science career come from as far away as

Hawaii to participate in eight-week internships.

“It’s a good opportunity for students who want good medical experience,” says Lynn, who started the internship program in 2006.

About eight interns work at the center from April to October. They assist with feeding and cleaning, and learn about anesthesia, radiographs, giving fluids, and basic lab and blood work.

“We couldn’t survive if it wasn’t for the interns,” says Lynn.

Aside from the interns, Lynn and Bob have one part-time employee.

While saving an animal’s life is a rewarding job, it is a constant struggle for Lynn and Bob to keep their nonprofit soaring financially.

In 2013, Blue Mountain Wildlife spent nearly $50,000 on frozen mice, rats and quail to feed the 40 birds on display and the ones they are rehabbing. Additional expenses included medical supplies, transportation and facility maintenance costs.

The Tompkins are thankful for the help they receive from the community. The Confederated Tribes transport birds on their public buses, and the Pendleton Vet Clinic lets them X-ray birds during the lunch hour. Yet Lynn and Bob know their facility needs updating.

The Green Hammer architecture firm in Portland created a plan for a new, environmentally friendly facility that features a wildlife hospital, rehabilitation and educational center. The cost of the new facility is $2 million.

“In order for it to continue past us, we need a new facility,” Lynn says.

Through the educational programs and yearly fundraisers, Lynn hopes to spread the word about their new facility and find donors.

To learn more about Blue Mountain Wildlife, visit

Patrick’s 10 Tips for Aspiring Landscape and Wildlife Photographers

Friday, January 30th, 2015
A photographer visiting the Galapagos Islands gets down at eye level to photograph a marine iguana. Photo by Patrick J. Endres

A photographer visiting the Galapagos Islands gets down at eye level to photograph a marine iguana.
Photo by Patrick J. Endres

  • Prepare for the physical conditions. Dress appropriately, and have your camera gear well packed and prepared for the type of travel, hiking or climbing necessary for the task.
  • Research your subject. Understand and respect a comfortable working distance from the wildlife you seek to photograph.
  • Go for the light. If possible, scout the area ahead of time and know the lighting conditions: when, where and how the morning and evening light and shadows fall.
  • Use a tripod with a ballhead camera/lens mount. This will help track and follow moving wildlife.
  • Shoot eye level with your subject. It helps portray a more natural scene of the animal in its environment.
  • Examine your compositional frames and evaluate the full area of your image. Tunnel vision is a bad habit easily acquired when shooting moving subjects, especially with long telephoto lenses common in wildlife photography.
  • Have accessible backups. Have extra film, digital storage media or batteries readily accessible should a quick change be necessary.
  • Experiment. Use telephoto frames, but back off to capture the animal in its environment, too.
  • Be patient. Do your best to blend enjoyment of being out in the natural world with the sheer persistence and patience often necessary to capture the image.
  • Be weather wise. Inclement weather can provide situations for spectacular photos.

Creating Layers In Your Photos

Friday, January 30th, 2015
Local youth play a pickup game of football on the campus of a south Philadelphia high school. The realistic mural painted on a school wall creates a surreal sense of depth and offers a lesson about layering.

Local youth play a pickup game of football on the campus of a south Philadelphia high school. The realistic mural painted on a school wall creates a surreal sense of depth and offers a lesson about layering.

It fascinates me how two people standing in precisely the same spot and looking at the same scene can see such different things.

The eyes of one person might focus on the obvious—such as something moving or perhaps the largest or brightest object—while the eyes of another scan slowly through the layers of a scene and find something quieter, something less obvious in the background or shadows.

Learning to “see through” a scene from the largest elements closest to the camera to smaller details in the background or shadows is an acquired skill. It’s not unlike learning to drive a car, where in the beginning you are preoccupied with keeping the tires between the white lines and you don’t see what is happening in your mirrors or on the road in front of you.

The term for photographically seeing through a scene is often called layering: the deliberate act of organizing all the elements in the frame so a viewer can visually move through your photograph without tripping.

Layering requires a keen eye to quickly see through a scene’s entire landscape—to notice and taste the colors, shapes and subtleties the camera does not miss. This can be a challenging task, especially for a documentary photographer who does not believe in moving any person or object in the scene while trying to arrange his or her photograph with the fewest mergers and compositional collisions.

Layering also gives depth to your photographs. A dark branch or shadowed figure in the foreground or objects of varying sizes and distances provide scale and depth, helping us feel like we are there, that we can step right into the picture.

After so many years making photographs, my eyes work quickly through the layers in a scene. I see mergers—compositional conflicts and intersections—such as poles and wires coming from people’s heads or colliding shapes, colors and tones crashing against each other.

For most, this is an acquired skill that takes practice and discipline. For others, like my wife, arranging layered photographs without mergers seems instinctual. Likely because of her art background, she is able to unravel and arrange the chaos in her viewfinder into layered, harmonious compositions before ever pressing the shutter button.

One consideration, beyond patience, is to use a small aperture opening whenever possible. Small aperture settings—such as f/16 or f/22—give greater depth of field, which means more in your photograph will be in focus—from foreground to background.

You likely will need a tripod to stabilize your camera while using slower shutter speeds, especially in low light. Whenever possible, I suggest using lower ISO settings as well to maintain best quality/file integrity.

daveDavid LaBelle is an internationally known photographer, teacher, author and lecturer. He has worked for newspapers and magazines across the United States and taught at three universities. He grew up on a frog farm in rural California, roaming the creeks and hills with his coon dogs. Many of the lessons he learned during those magical boyhood years have been applied to photography and teaching the essence of this art form. For more information, visit