At Good Bear Ranch we take our the safety of our environment very seriously and do what we can to help regenerate the land, protect the wildlife and implement sustainable practices wherever possible.
First and foremost, Good Bear Ranch is 250 acres of Refuge for wild plants and animals. It borders a large tract of Forest Service managed, public lands to the West so provides valley access for wildlife. It also functions as a corridor for species that require large territories. A significant percentage of our vacation rental earnings are invested in sustainable, earth friendly land management practices.
I allow intermittent cattle grazing as it is important, for fire safety, to keep dry grasses clipped short on our 60 acres of fields. Intermittent grazing helps favor native species and pollinators. I have recently set aside a 10 acre trial field across the fence to the South side of the yard, for passive regeneration of native grasses, shrubs and trees. This area is fenced with wildlife friendly smooth wire. I have also created a pond here to help hold water which will aid in native plant regeneration.
The South Side of the yard includes an experimental Native Garden for local pollinators with a small creek (Little Bear Creek) to help maintain adequate moisture in the hot months of the summer and irrigation water. Efficient water use, conservation and distribution are top priorities at Good Bear Ranch.
Balancing wildfire safety and healthy, wildlife friendly forests are also a top priority. I have made use of funding awarded by our local Natural Resources Conservation Service offices for thinning of forest on the 30 acres adjacent to the house. I chose the approved but minimally intrusive “cut, lop and lay” method which thins out smaller more flammable trees, preserving larger trees and snags to shade the forest floor. The lop and lay technique allows carbon and nutrients, from thinned trees, to return to the forest and eliminates heavy equipment disturbance resulting from burning or chipping of the thinned material. This process addresses fire mitigation at the “Urban Interface” area of greatest concern. One the 3-4 acres immediately surrounding the house I have thinned and limbed very aggressively for maximum fire protection.
In the future, as cash flow allows, we plan to fence off Goodrich Creek, on the North border of the property. This will minimize the intrusion of cattle and allow further regeneration of an important riparian area on the property. These moist, productive areas are havens for abundant wildlife that will follow on the heels of a growing buffer zone of trees and shrubs.
Good Bear Ranch and the wild lands that surround it inspire my watercolor painting, some of which you will find hanging in the house. I am currently working on a group of paintings called “Refugia of the Blue Mountains” which showcase the wildlife and landscapes of NE Oregon. It will include a narrative that describes the value that our corner of Oregon brings to the table when it comes to preservation of endangered species and mitigating the negative effects of climate change.
*For more info on, or to purchase paintings by Robin Coen, please visit www.robincoen.com