Metolius Water Quality Analysis completed

It's the water. Of all the features that combine to make the Metolius unique - the ponderosa and tamarack forest, the wildlife, the surrounding mountains, the region's history, the quiet - it is the spring fed clarity and beauty of the river itself that ultimately defines the region. Working to maintain the quality of the water is at the heart of Friends' mission.

Friends is proud to announce the completion of a multi year study, analysis, and report on Metolius River water quality. Bottom line - the water is second in terms of overall quality in Oregon only to stretches of the Grand Ronde River in the northeast corner of the state.

Friends contracted with Geosyntec Associates in Portland last year to analyze and report on water quality data gathered over the last two decades by groups including:

Friends of the Metolius
Friends in collaboration with US Forest Service
Oregon Department of Environmental Quality
The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs
US Geological Survey
Portland General Electric
US Department of Agriculture

Analysis of data was across multiple sites along the length of the river, over two decades, and looked at a variety of water quality factors including levels of E. coli, nitrates, phosphorous, pH, turbidity, and dissolved oxygen. No critical trends were discovered, although levels of phosphorous and nitrates did occasionally rise above regional standard levels - likely attributable to local geology.

The database on which the analysis was done excluding precipitation data and recent Oregon DEQ data has been available online and updated over the past three years via an interactive map on this site (below). We are excited to add a summary version of the report completed by Geosyntec and, for those with the technical background in water quality analysis and the related statistics, a complete copy of the report and related spreadsheet data. Public agencies with an interest in maintaining the pristine quality of the river will find this an invaluable baseline tool going forward.


Summary of Geosyntec Report


Complete Geosyntec Report

(95 mb - includes report, appendices, and maps
in a zipped file)

Spreadsheet file on which Geosyntec analysis is based

(1 mb - in a zipped file)

Interactive Metolius Basin Map - Water Testing

(updated February, 2017)


New Look


Landscaping and interpretive sign installation were completed in June at the popular Fish Overlook area near the Camp Sherman store. Two large panels obstructing river views were removed; three new signs featuring a map of the area, fish of the Metolius and historical themes replace the old ones. There are benches to sit on, boulders replace aging bollards, native plants restore the damaged area, and stone steps provide access to the river. The look is much improved and winter runoff from the parking lot has been diverted into bioswales that filter excess water.

In mid July a team of approximately ten Friends volunteers cleaned, sanded, and painted the overlook structure itself.


The project was a collaborative effort by Friends, Trout Unlimited, the US Forest Service and the Northwest Youth Corps.

Please stop by and enjoy.


New Overlook Signs


Old panels going

New signs - new location nearby

Three new interpretive signs will be installed near the Fish Overlook by the Camp Sherman bridge in Spring, 2014. The existing signs were installed years ago when the overlook was first constructed. They are dated and contain misinformation. The new signs address the history of the region, the fish in the Metolius, and provide a map orienting visitors to the basin. They will be placed near the current site. The old bill board type sign will be removed providing an enhanced view of the river. FOM believes more can be done to improve this popular spot and will work with the Forest Service on a landscape plan.


Historic Black Butte Trail

Thirty Friends' volunteers, Forest Service supervisors, and a small youth crew from Deschutes County Juvenile Justice completed rehab work on the historic lower portion of the Black Butte Trail in an all day work party on Saturday, September 15, 2013.

Friends has been working with the Forest Service with a grant from the National Forest Foundation and the lodges representing the Deschutes Forest Stewardship Fund to reopen the trail from the base of the Butte to the parking area about half way up. The volunteer effort on the 15th was the culminating activity of the project. Crews cleared brush, improved trail drainage, installed trail markers, and completed approximately two hundred yards of new trail connecting the historic lower portion with the existing upper trail. Hikers are now able to make the five mile bottom-to-top trek to the summit of Black Butte on the same trail that took early fire lookouts up 3300 feet to the mountain's summit during the first few decades of the 20th century.

Evidenced by the number of cars parked at the trail head in recent weeks and by wear on the trail itself, the effort represents a successful addition to recreational opportunities in the Metolius Basin.



Work on new trail




20th Anniversary Recognition Dinner


Friends of the Metolius celebrated its 20th anniversary with a dinner and awards presentation on April 30, 2011 at the Camp Sherman Community Hall. The evening began with wine and appetizers, followed by a delicious dinner, and culminated in two award presentations. The Toni Foster Activist Award recognizes an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the preservation of the of the Metolius Basin demonstrating the characteristics of a passionate activist, with a view of the big picture, and a keen ability to identify strategic approaches to meet a goal. This award was presented to Representative Brian Clem for his role in the successful passage of the law establishing the Metolius Basin as the state’s first Area of Critical State Concern. The Becky Johnson Award is awarded to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the preservation of the Metolius Basin through a long-term experience with, or understanding of the values of the Metolius and the surrounding basin, and of land management in support of those values, or financial support of positive environmental actions in the Metolius Basin. The Becky Johnson Award was presented to Paul Dewey, a local land-use lawyer who helped form the Friends of the Metolius and has spent 30 years effectively advocating for proper application of Oregon’s land use rules and regulations to balance environmental protection with the need to allow for smart and reasonable development.

Becky Johnson Award winner, Paul Dewey, with Doug & Lorie Hancock

Lorie Hancock presents Brian Clem with the Toni Foster Award



Work Crew

On the island just downstream from the Camp Sherman bridge a trial method of invasive weed control is being tested. Ribbon grass, (Phalaris arundinacea picta) an ornamental variety of reed canary grass, (Phalaris arundinacea) has taken over about 70% of the island. Native plants have been displaced by the aggressive exotic on many sites along the upper Metolius River from Spring Creek down to Gorge Camp Ground and isolated spots beyond. It grows best in wet sites, but can survive in dry conditions as well. Ribbon grass can easily be identified. It is an attractive green and white striped grass, two to three feet tall. We do not know when or how it came to the Metolius, but probably many years ago some well intentioned person planted it along a waterway and it spread from there. It is sold in many commercial outlets throughout Oregon and is not on the Oregon State list of noxious weeds. It should be. The Friends of the Metolius and the US Forest Service would like to drastically reduce it’s presence along the Metolius River and restore native plants.

The control method being tested is called solarization. A black heavy fabric was spread over the infested area in March, 2011 and will be left for two growing seasons. Without sunlight and with the high solar heat generated by the black fabric, all plants beneath the fabric die. This method has been used for decades to control unwanted plants. Here, however, we planted native sedges through the fabric in June, 2011 anticipating their survival after the fabric is removed in 2013. After that we hope the sedges will re-occupy the island. This approach has been tried successfully on other sites around Oregon.

What can go wrong? The fabric could wash off, strong winds could create openings for the ribbon grass to grow, and then there’s the element of human intervention: fishers, dogs, small boys, etc. The sedges may not flourish and maybe some ribbon grass rhizomes will survive and new shoots emerge. Never-the-less, we will learn from the effort. Hand removal and herbicide are other methods of control. We have tested these on private land and found that they too have their pros and cons. In the years to come the Forest Service will develop a control plan benefiting from what we have learned. As you watch the island in the next two years, you will have the opportunity to be part of this discussion.

Planting the sedges is labor intensive as you can see below. Approximately 300 plants were placed on the island by FOM volunteers on June 26 and 28, 2011.

Work Crew Sedges


An alternative control method is chemical and we have used approved herbicides on small patches on private land in the past. Herbicides are very effective, but kill a spectrum of plants not just ribbon grass. Careful application is a must. Another alternative is hand removal. We have tried this too and found it very labor intensive and may even enhance spread by sending rhizomes downstream. Disturbance of the streambed is another problem. There is no silver bullet. Probably all three methods will have a place in a comprehensive control plan. We would like your thoughts.

In the years to come the Forest Service plans to initiate a control plan for ribbon grass, yellow iris (another noxious plant) and maybe some yet to be discovered invasive plant along the Metolius. Along with the Forest Service, Jefferson County Weed Control, Oregon Department of Agriculture and other organizations Friends is struggling to control exotic, aggressive plants that threaten our native plant communities. We want the public to be aware of the problem and to support future efforts. What do you think should be done?

In addition to ribbon grass, spotted knapweed, toadflax, and yellow iris also pose a threat to native plants along the Metolius. For additional information contact Pete Schay, Friends of the Metolius, 541-595-2118 or Maret Pajutee, US Forest Service, Sisters Ranger District.

Heritage Forest Demonstration Project

Heritage Map

The Heritage Forest Demonstration Project is designed to provide visitors a first hand look at possible silvercultural treatment scenarios that will promote the perpetuation of open park-like stands of ponderosa pine within the Metolius Heritage Area.

Friends of the Metolius has undertaken this demonstration project out of concern for the old-growth ponderosa pine forests of the area as well as the overall forest health and fire protection within the Metolius Basin. When completed, visitors to the project area will observe:

  • Eight small plots ranging 3 to 10 acres in size for a total of about 50 acres treated
  • Highly visible sites along Forest Road 1420 from the Four Corners junction at Camp Sherman Road 1216 & 1419 to Allingham junction Road 1217
  • Differing treatments including both commercial & non-commercial thinning, burning and mowing, as well as a "turn of the century forest" plot
  • Information about the project that include signs, tours and literature
  • Several untreated "before action" areas for comparison

View photos and information of the differing treatments and their effects over the last 5 years by clicking on the plot locations on the map.

Planning for the Heritage Forest Demonstration Project with the Deschutes National Forest is on going, and requires that the following regulations and laws be adhered to:

    • National Environmental Policy Act
    • Metolius Conservation Area standards and guidelines for the Metolius Heritage Area
    • Metolius Wild and Scenic River management standards

Implementation of the project began in the fall season of 2001 through the spring of 2002 and will continue as prescribed treatments are implemented.

Suttle Lake Trail Hike / Ride

Work Crew

Final touches to the new Lake Creek Trail were completed in early April as snow melt allowed. Friends installed the new trailhead signs and sponsored a grand opening hike/ride for volunteers who participated in the project.

Work on the new trail was organized by Friends under a grant from the National Forest Foundation and largely funded by the lodges of the Sisters Country Co-op. The trail forms one leg of the inn-to-inn experience being promoted by the lodges.

The trail is multi use. Hikers, bikers, cross country skiers, and snowshoers will find approximately 4.5 miles of gently sloping trail beginning in Camp Sherman across from Sternberg Lane north of the Community Hall. The trail passes through Deschutes Land Trust property north of Lake Creek, crossing FS Road 12 and upgrade to Highway 20 were it goes under the Highway 20 bridge, and then along Lake Creek to Suttle Lake. A portion of the trail is also available for equestrian access to the Windigo Trail.

Click on the map below to explore the trail in Google Earth. You may also want a copy of a the Lake Creek Trail brochure (map included).

Trail Map