During a weekend in August, my group of OSU Extension interns and I drove down to Grants Pass for a two-night adventure in Oregon’s beautiful forests. On the first day, we had booked an all-day guided whitewater kayaking and rafting adventure down the Rogue. We met our guide in the morning and he stayed with us all day. He was constantly watching out for our safety, answering our questions, and making sure we had a great time.

The next day, we had a tour through the Oregon Caves National Monument. It was led by a volunteer, who had graduated from Oregon State University in 2018. Because this was a family trip, she had demonstrations and spoke at a level that everyone could understand. She learned everyone’s names, warned us when we might bump our heads, and was incredibly informative.

Later that day, we drove down to California’s Redwood National and State Parks, where we met a park ranger for a free guided tour through Stout Grove. This was another family tour, with people from all over the world joining in. The ranger was incredibly enthusiastic and informative; she spoke to people of all ages and led a very interactive tour.

By the end of the weekend, we had taken three very different tours. The first was more recreational, the second was a paid tour through the caves, and the third was a free tour in the state park. All three were incredible and informative but had very different approaches to their guiding style. It demonstrated how guides need to be able to adjust for the needs of their group members, but also how varied guiding positions are and how their training corresponds to that.

Oregon is home to nearly 30,000 black bears, Ursus americanus, America’s most common bear species. They can grow up to six feet long and weight anything from 125 to 500 pounds. In fact, the name “black bear” is misleading, because they can have brown or gray coats.

If you’re on the lookout for bears in Oregon, you’ll only find black bears, since grizzlies haven’t been seen in the state since the 1930s. They make their home in Oregon’s abundant forests, where they create dens for hibernation, climb up trees, and forage. If you’re really looking to find one, try visiting areas that have been clear-cut and allowed to grow for a few years. They are easier to spot, and they feed on the grass and brush. They also feed on berries, nuts, and fruits; they can eat small mammals, insects, fish, and amphibians, but they are not usually actively hunting.

The best time to spot a black bear is in the middle of the summer, when their breeding season begins. Males and females will be more active, and yearling bears are becoming independent and can be seen roaming around roads and clear cuts. They are also independent animals, so don’t expect to see many in the same place.






You might be surprised to hear about the importance of dairy to Oregon’s economy. Milk is actually Oregon’s official beverage and the third greatest agricultural commodity in the state, with more than 350 farms and 120,000 cows. As you can see in this photo from Google Maps, Tillamook is a mainly agricultural town with many plots of land. Oregon’s dairy industry contributes more than $1 billion to the economy every year. Milk has always been a largely produced product, but specialty cheeses are gaining worldwide recognition.

You may have heard the rumor that Tillamook has more cattle than people, as it is a bustling, dairy-producing county. This goes back to European settlement when 91% of wetlands were drained for agricultural, residential, and commercial development. The dairy farms are established along eight rivers, five bays, and the ocean, which can pose a major environmental problem. Check out the screenshot from Google Maps below!

One of these problems results from grazing livestock—the production of manure and urine. Fecal bacteria can pollute streams when directly deposited by livestock or through overland flow. Direct deposit is more common and more impactful, because the soil will not filter the bacteria. Overland flow occurs when rain or snow goes beyond infiltration capacity, or the rate at which water can be absorbed by soil and drains into a body of water instead of being absorbed. The nutrients and bacteria from runoff can be harmful to wildlife and people, as it drains into the water table and can carry harmful diseases.

One solution to this problem is the effective and affordable use of water tanks, which reduces the time that livestock spend drinking in natural bodies of water by more than 90%. This will decrease how much waste is directly deposited into water and also improves the health of the livestock.

There are many more problems associated with livestock and water runoff, so it is important to learn about how this affects people and wildlife, implement prevention techniques, and practice sustainable farming.





Livestock Management and Water Quality

The Gross Way Water Pollution From Livestock Affects You