New quilt showcases McKenzie River Watershed

New quilt showcases McKenzie River Watershed

“My family and I have been boating on the McKenzie River since 1981 and we love this place,” says Mary Nyquist Koons, a member of the McKenzie River Trust with her husband, James, since 2009. “As members of the Trust we discovered we could help protect this beautiful, sacred river and land with a financial gift. We hope others will join us.”

After touring MRT’s Finn Rock Reach property last fall and watching salmon spawning in their homewaters, Mary began thinking about this special place in a different way. “The stretch of river at Finn Rock is one of my favorite places in all of Oregon – and I wanted to understand how it related to the rest of the watershed.”

“I love maps, I love the McKenzie River and I love quilts. So I thought, why not put them all together?”

First Mary studied a BLM map that MRT executive director Joe Moll lent her; the river was so small that it was hard to find in places. “It’s easy to see the relationship of the rivers on this quilt map. The process of translating the map into textiles was a visual and tactile experience for me. This project gave me the chance to understand how these places fit within the bigger picture of the watershed. Now when I’m in the field, I know where I am.”

“This quilt is my gift of hope for the preservation and celebration of the McKenzie River. I hope it’s something that MRT can use to share with others to help them visually understand the river through art.” Quilt maps are a bit unusual in the quilt world. “This quilt is a great combination of what I know and love. I sew. I boat. I drink the water.”

The McKenzie River Watershed quilt hangs in the MRT office. Feel free to stop by and take in the many intricate details of place that are sewn into this beautiful art piece.

The importance of healthy floodplains

Landowner and member Art Johnson with former MRT Land Protection Manager Ryan Ruggiero.


This is part of a series about the MRT members who have played a part in the incredible comeback of Oregon chub. In the coming days and weeks, we’ll share more stories of MRT members who aided the recovery.

The importance of healthy floodplains

Art and Anita Johnson

Places protected for Oregon chub are also habitat for many other creatures like Great blue herons, red-legged frogs, and Chinook salmon.

In 2007, MRT helped members Art and Anita Johnson create a conservation easement on their 28-acre floodplain property on the lower McKenzie. The land was protected for its ideal habitat for Chinook salmon, redside rainbow trout, steelhead, and red-legged frogs. Years later, researchers found Oregon chub were also using the side channels there year-round.

As more and more people studied the chub, they learned about the interrelationship between one species and the whole web of creatures that live in the river.

“You can’t allow one species to be lost without that having an impact on other species,” says Art. “I’ve been on the McKenzie and Willamette my whole life. I knew the chub was in the river and I was very pleased that they were in that pocket of our property.”

A healthy, functioning floodplain was a major help for Oregon chub. “The recovery of the chub, to a large extent, is because of natural features,” adds Art. “The way the river moves back and forth creates harbors” for fish like chub.

Like many who have assisted in chub recovery in ways large and small, Art and Anita are humble about their role. “We don’t take any credit for [the recovery],” says Art. “It was a bit of fortune that the habitat developed right in the bends of the river.”

The little fish that we’d never noticed


This is part of a series about the MRT members who have played a part in the incredible comeback of Oregon chub. In the coming days and weeks, we’ll share more stories of MRT members who aided the recovery.

The little fish that we’d never noticed

George Grier and Cynthia Pappas

MRT made the front page of the Register-Guard on November 9, 2001, when researchers discovered Oregon chub on George Grier and Cynthia Pappas’ Big Island conservation easement. It was the first sighting of the fish in the McKenzie basin since 1899.

George Grier and Cynthia Pappas permanently protected 7 acres of their land, pictured above, with a donated conservation easement in 1992. MRT’s first easement, it prevented development on backwater sloughs and side channels of the lower McKenzie River on the edge of Springfield’s drinking water well field.

In 2001 during a routine fish survey on George and Cynthia’s property, researchers Jeff Ziller from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and Mike Sheehan from the Willamette National Forest made an incredible discovery. They found Oregon chub, last seen in the McKenzie basin in 1899, over 100 years earlier. A Register-Guard reporter happened to be there to document what George calls “a new chapter” in chub recovery.

It was a new beginning. “No one really knew about chub on the McKenzie until this population was found,” said George. “By looking closely at where the major populations were on our property, [the researchers] were able to get a better handle on where to look for them” elsewhere in the McKenzie and in other Willamette River tributaries.

George Grier, pictured at right, with Mike Running and Ryland Moore, the former Co-Directors of MRT who were with the organization when chub was discovered on Big Island in 2001.

ODFW’s Brian Bangs agrees that the sighting was “a big deal.”

After chub were found on Big Island, researchers started looking for them in similar habitats nearby. “They were everywhere,” says Brian, reflecting back. “It’s the little fish that’s under everyone’s noses. The fish that people, even fisheries biologists, just ignored. We call them little brown fish. And people forget about them. It’s pretty remarkable that we could go 100 years before everyone realized what they were.”

When asked how they felt about the recovery of Oregon chub, George and Cynthia took an optimistic view. “I was pretty excited” to hear they’d be de-listed said George. “To play a role in something like that is a pretty major milestone. It was a long time coming.”

“I was actually surprised that it didn’t take longer,” added Cynthia.

McKenzie River Trust member’s passion evolves into Oregon’s first published field guide for dragonflies

This post is part of a series of profiles of McKenzie River Trust members. Have an idea for a member spotlight? Contact Jules Abbott, Membership and Outreach Coordinator: jules (at) mckenzieriver (dot) org.

Member Spotlight: Steve Gordon


Steve Gordon vividly remembers the day that would change the course of his life.

A fifth-generation Oregonian, Steve is an avid birder, dragonfly expert, and McKenzie River Trust member, among many other pursuits.

That day, as he sat in a business meeting, he noticed a dragonfly land on a flower outside the window.

“I sketched the dragonfly and the wing pattern,” Steve recalled. “[After the meeting] I went to find out what species the dragonfly was and noticed it was difficult to find a field guide.”

Steve began to hunt for dragonfly guides and groups in Oregon. He discovered a survey website that listed Oregonians who were interested in dragonflies. Steve noticed an acquaintance, Cary Kerst, on the list. He got in touch, and over coffee, they decided to take a field trip. Soon after, they ventured into the west Eugene wetlands to learn about and identify new dragonfly species.

Eventually, their combined passion inspired them to publish the first dragonfly field guide for Oregon.

“We probably spent three years working on it. I think Cary discovered six or seven new species of insects, and together, we added a new dragonfly to the Oregon list.”

Now, Steve supports McKenzie River Trust by leading dragonfly field trips, participating on the lands committee, and advising the board on acquisitions. He’s also a member.

“McKenzie River Trust is good for my heart and soul,” Steve said. “It’s the accumulation of preserved sites that really starts to make a difference on the landscape. In 10 years, you’ll be able to see a ribbon of connective pieces starting to form. I think at that point you really do have an impact on the landscape.”

Steve believes that his support of McKenzie River Trust will help ensure that Oregon continues to be a wonderful place to live ages from now. With Steve’s help, his great-grandchildren — future eighth-generation Oregonians! — will still have plenty of natural areas to enjoy.

Get involved!

Do you want to join Steve on his next Dragonfly tour? Sign up for the McKenzie River Trust email list to hear about new tours and other ways to explore our protected landscapes. Enter your email address in the upper right corner of our website to sign up for e-news.

Caddis Fly Angling Shop’s Annual Two-Fly Tournament Supports McKenzie River Trust

This post is the first in a series of profiles of McKenzie River Trust members. Have an idea for a member spotlight? Contact Jules Abbott, Membership and Outreach Coordinator: jules (at) mckenzieriver (dot) org.

Member Spotlight:

Chris Daughters, Caddis Fly Angling Shop


One of Chris Daughter’s earliest memories of life is fishing. Chris caught the family tradition the first time he cast a rod into McKenzie River’s crisp, clear water with his father and grandfather. Fishing quickly became his passion.

When Chris was only ten years old, he began working at the Caddis Fly Angling Shop. The owners became his second family. By his twenties, he bought it.

It’s all about enhancement

Today, as owner of a respected fly-fishing shop, Chris values McKenzie River Trust and its positive impact on Oregon Rivers and fish. Chris sees a strong connection between the shop’s customers and the Trust.

“[MRT] supports healthy habitat enhancement for rivers which enhance fish and clean water,” Chris says. “My philosophy is so much like theirs … [and] it benefits the customers as well. We’re all looking for enhancement.”

Chris believes that small steps can positively affect rivers and fish, and recognizes the importance of preserving the McKenzie River and its natural beauty.

“It has quite a bit of diversity, excellent gradient and beautiful forests,” Chris says about the McKenzie River. “When you get down into the lower flood plains, it has a totally different character. It’s a really diverse body of water, so its fishing techniques can be as well.”

Two-Fly Tournament makes an impact

One of the ways that Chris supports McKenzie River Trust is through an annual fly-fishing tournament, where all proceeds benefit MRT. In five years, The Caddis Fly Angling Shop’s Two-Fly Tournament has raised over $25,000, and Chris is one of several fishing guides who donate their time to the cause. This year’s tournament on September 26 and 27 filled up within weeks of registration opening.

Now, Chris continues to pass on his family tradition to his two young children, who accompanied him and his wife on fishing trips when they were just a couple of months old. They have fished in some of the world’s most exotic locations including, New Zealand, Argentina and Chile, but they always return to where it all began, on the McKenzie River.

Get involved!

Are you an angler who would like to help protect the McKenzie and our other local rivers? Then shop at the Caddis Fly Shop on Friday, September 26, when Chris and his crew will donate 10% of sales to the McKenzie River Trust.