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Community Resource Unit
Baseline Social and Economic Information
A. Community Description
The Stayton/Sublimity Community Resource Unit (CRU) stretches from near Silver Falls State Park to the north, to a western boundary between Stayton and Aumsville, to the south into Linn County and north of Rogers Mountain, and to the east to Stout Mountain west of Mehama. Figure 16 shows a map of the Unit.
People to the west of the CRU are called "flatlanders", while the east is referred to as "up" or "up the canyon" or "up the river." The Bend area and eastern Oregon is referred to as "over the mountains."
Within the CRU, the "Real Stayton" is a local term for the downtown core, especially east of 1st Street. "Westown" in the northwest was touted as "the" place to live, but the poor quality construction of the development turned out to be a real disappointment for many residents. People refer to that area as separate. Canals and ditches mark the history and values of local people and also define their physical space. New developments are creating neighborhood boundaries since they are not integrated in style or physical layout with adjacent residential areas.
Local landmarks mentioned frequently are Swiss Village ("up the river"), the golf course, and the "swamp" where the Dairy Queen is located.
Map of the Stayton/Sublimity Community Resource Unit
In the town of Stayton, the post office contains a mural showing a logging truck next to a man fly-fishing in a pristine lake. The logging truck is a regional symbol - the town itself has never been strongly oriented to timber except in its very early years. However, the image seems to capture the transition from the old to the new in this area - from timber and a workingman, outdoor orientation to hosting recreation visitors. "It's a farming town," one woman told us, reflecting the historical roots of the community. Now, the sentiment of local residents is that it's a "bedroom community." Others described the blue collar nature of the workforce, and the rapidly urbanizing population. All of these images express the reality of Stayton and Sublimity.
Stayton got its start when entrepreneurs from Salem began the Salem Ditch Diversion in 1857 to power a woolen mill located near Front Street in Salem. Drury Stayton, a homesteader living near Sublimity, bought acreage between the Santiam and the Willamette Rivers, recognizing that the diversion ditches could power an assortment of mills. The first was a wool-carding mill in 1868. The sawmill was built in 1870. Eventually, about 10 small water-powered mills were operating. It was truly a market town, with the first reliable cash crop for farmers coming from the Flour Mill. German farmers in the 1870s began raising livestock, wheat, corn, green beans, and children. In the 1890s, the largest wheat purchasers were the Doerfler Brothers, now one of the major producers of grass seed in the area (Ernst Lau, personal communication, 1/17/02). Figure 17 shows the Jordan Bridge, which was constructed in 1998.
The Stayton population was 5112 in 1990 and 6816 in 2000, an increase of 25 % (Census Data, Table Two).
North of Stayton and Highway 22 is the town of Sublimity, settled by a large population of Germans. Sublimity is known as a community of "better" houses, education, and income levels, more upscale developments, and higher voter turnout. Sublimity's population was 1524 in 1990 and 2148 in 2000, an increase of 29% (Census Data, Table Two).
Stayton's Jordan Bridge, Built in 1998
Both Stayton and Sublimity are among the fastest growing communities of the region, and they are poised for major growth in residential development the next decade.
Today, two related settlement patterns are strongly shaping the future of the area, the improvement of Highway 22 and the development of higher-end housing subdivisions. Highway 22 has shortened commuting time and increased local connection with the urban Salem area. In both Stayton and Sublimity, newer and nicer homes are characterizing recent settlement. Both communities are absorbing newcomers at a steady rate and residents commonly report newcomers are part of the commuter set, less involved in the community than longer-term residents, but vitalizing communities anyway with their presence. Residents in both towns perceive that local governments through their policies are encouraging higher cost homes and discouraging lower cost homes, although debate is mixed about whether this is positive or not.
Some differences are noted between Stayton and Sublimity; they have different histories of which they are proud and were considered very distinct communities until the last 20 years. Housing, income levels and kids characterize the differences.
Sublimity has always been primarily a housing area. It has never had a downtown core, although it has a commercial area along the main thoroughfare of Center Street. Sublimity is known as a high-end housing area for Salem commuters. New housing units begin at $250,000. Costs are attributed to high lot costs, system development fees of $10,000 or more, and city permits. The city recently has mandated a minimum lot size of 10,000 square feet in an effort to maintain its attraction for higher end homes. Although Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development currently contests this ordinance, a large number of local residents support the measure.
"In twenty years, this area will be totally part of the Salem economy, like Gresham is to Portland."
"Since Highway 22 became a four lane, I can get to downtown Salem faster than my brother who lives in South Salem."
"It's faster to travel to and from Salem than to live in Salem and commute across town."
"After 1990, more people started coming, interested in history and the watershed. It's getting to be less of a working town now."
"When I came in 1991, it was a real blue collar town, less than 3000 people. Then new people started coming with new ideas, people interested in the area's history and the watershed."
"The minimum lot size is good because higher end homes create less demand on services. Salem is trying to export its poor."
Despite these changes, the rural flavor of the area is still very much in evidence, however. The green belts are very pronounced. Communities have an end point where the country begins. Also, the mixed uses customary in rural areas prevail - mobile homes next to custom built homes - for example, all part of the rural tradition of tolerance.
The social aspects of settlement patterns are several: 1) Many adults follow their aging parents into the community in order to care for them; 2) Many people come back in mid-life, after having left at graduation and spending their young adult years elsewhere. Residents do not believe that many high school graduates go on to college. Many attend the community college but don't finish. Those that graduate college don't come back until midlife; 3) The attraction of families to this area remains strong; and, 4) It is still difficult to fit in.
"I moved to town to be closer to my aging mother." [This pattern was common]
"My parents live in Sublimity. When I retired from engineering, I moved here." [They had visited for over 30 years.]
"I moved here from the east coast to care for mother-in-law. She is ill and very elderly. She is from Seattle and came here because of the high quality elder care available."
"I went to Stayton High School and many of my classmates are currently living in Stayton with their families. My son is now going to school with my friend's kids. And these are people who moved away, seen some of the world, and returned to their hometown seeking better family life and quality schools."
"I moved here 8 years ago with my kids and we loved the friendliness. My kids felt accepted in the schools."
"People come here for the 1950s image, an idealistic vision of small town life."
"I've been here for nearly 30 years and I've only been invited to 5 weddings. Doesn't that tell you something about how hard it is to be in the circle with locals?"
In addition to the growing number of housing subdivisions, the commercial and retail areas of the communities are in transition. Stayton has struggled for some years in making its downtown viable. Its 3rd street section remains unnoticed by first-time visitors. Its redevelopment efforts in this area generally have not been successful. The area along 1st near Safeway has successfully developed and lures traffic and business from downtown. Sublimity, on the other hand, wants to maintain a pedestrian-friendly community, maintain the attractiveness of the community, and promote modest commercial development.
Residents had a good time describing the kinds of people that live in Stayton and Sublimity. One person said there are three types: those that live and work here; those that live here and enjoy the services but work elsewhere; and those that move here and retire.
Several people took a religious tact, given the early importance of religion in the local settlement. Baptists were the most prominent religious group during the settlement period - in fact, Drury Stayton was a part-time Baptist minister. Catholics, mostly in Sublimity, are related to German inmigration. One person said German Catholics "invaded" in the late 1800s. Townspeople talked a lot about "Christians," mostly in Stayton, by which they seemed to mean the Campbellites, an offshoot of the Presbyterians.
Mennonites also have a presence in town, many commuting from the rural areas for jobs and for use of local services.
"There is a huge Catholic community, maybe 65% of the population. Priests and pastors meet together routinely."
A more common approach in discussing how the social pie is divided in Stayton and Sublimity is by occupation. The major categories discussed were:
Urbanites as a social category were mentioned by many people. It is clear that a shift from a rural to an urban outlook is in the future and many are concerned of the changes it will create in the community.
A new distinction in the area is ethnicity. In the past, the population has been overwhelmingly white but Hispanics in recent years have created a noticeable presence. Initially the migrant labor for seasonal agricultural work, a settling out process has been underway for at least a generation. There are now permanent year-round Hispanic residents and their proportion of the population is growing. Hispanics tend to "lay low" and they do not participate much in formal, organized events. They are very family oriented and depend on Norpac for employment. Hispanics own a growing number of businesses but their interests do not seem incorporated into local politics, business development, or planning. They are becoming the major employee base for Philips and other manufacturing facilities, increasing the need for managerial Spanish.
The Stayton/Sublimity area also has a large number of lower income residents who exhibit certain social patterns of behavior. Many work low paying jobs, or they are underemployed. They frequent the food banks of the area, the mission, the churches, and cafes, and they participate in the gleaners program and other ways of surviving. They may rent on a week-to-week basis and have the reputation for being unreliable. Reports from residents indicate that displacement of low-income people may be occurring.
"Don't be so harsh about them. Have some compassion. Times are tough."
Age as a social category was also important for residents in describing their community. Children and youth, of course, bring up key personal and social values and much community time is devoted to the well-being of this population (see Community Issues). In addition, the retirement community has been growing at a fast rate in recent years, and, in fact, has become a major component of the local economy, fueling new construction, businesses and services. Retired people have especially increased in Sublimity. The new assisted living facility near Dairy Queen is filling very fast. Observers say the retirement infrastructure is here, with the beauty, quality of life and small town as attractions. Out migration from the cities, and from California particularly, is perceived to be feeding the growth of retirement. Many retirees are opening small businesses, contributing to an improved business climate.
"There are wonderful senior services available here. The hospital is excellent."
"There is heightened awareness about servicing the elderly in town. It's good that seniors spend locally, especially on prescriptions. If they ordered off the Internet like young people, I'd be in trouble. The Senior citizen bus goes by the pharmacy each day in Sublimity." [pharmacist]
This area was settled when early residents began to harness water resources for production. Agriculture was an early survival activity that quickly contributed to local and regional economic growth. Residents noted the shift in agriculture in recent years from food crops to grass seeds and Christmas trees. Crop agriculture used to be a major source of local employment, much of it seasonally based. Over time, seasonal work shifted to Hispanic migrant labor, but as seed grasses and Christmas trees have become dominant commodities, mechanization has displaced many workers. It is now the case that agriculture still generates much economic activity, but it is less associated with a worker base or with the support businesses usually associated with farming communities. Doerfler Farms is the largest grass seed producer worldwide, while the Willamette Valley has a 70% total market share in this industry (Stayton and Sublimity, Community Guide and Business Directory, Stayton/Sublimity Chamber of Commerce, 2002).
"It's migrants now."
"I used to take my kids out to pick strawberries. It was a tradition in the community. Now, with Hispanic fieldworkers, there aren't opportunities for children to pick strawberries for harvest."
"In the summer, you have to be careful of the combines on the road [related to seed operations]. Also, it's the Christmas tree capital here. In November, there are lots of trucks here."
"Ninety-nine percent of the people in Sublimity have nothing to do with agriculture. We are Salem commuters and retirees."
Paris Woolen Mills closed about 1988. It had 70 employees. The current owner has investigated making a brewpub of the facility, perhaps with shops and apartments, but so far has been unable to attract the necessary interest.
"I remember the mill whistle blowing in the morning when I was a little girl. I was raised next to Martha Brown. Our historian lives in what was some kind of factory. There was also a shoe factory and a glue factory."
Currently, woods products employment does not comprise a significant portion of total employment. Although these communities were never timber or logging towns like other Oregon communities, loggers and mill workers were always part of the local scene:
"My family has owned a saw mill for over 50 years. It just went from a two shift schedule to one shift, or from 200 workers to 100."
"You can't find woods workers anymore."
"I'd like to see the timber industry come back. We get visitors out here and they're surprised when they see trees. They think we cut them all down."
"I remember in the '60s when I was logging, a friend told me logging was going to be over because we were cutting on steep hillsides. For him, it was the beginning of the end."
"My husband was a logger and loved it. He had to quit because of an injury. He knew every single trail and road up to Detroit."
In the past, people went "up to the mills" to work, meaning the North Santiam Canyon. In the last twenty years, as the mills "up" valley have closed the commute has shifted direction to the urban area of Salem.
Factory work and manufacturing represent a major source of employment in the area today. Norpac Foods dates from the 1920s and currently processes corn, green beans, and some peas. In addition to Norpac, there are several window and mobile home manufacturing facilities in Stayton including Karsten Trailer Homes, and Philips and Summit window manufacturing. These companies draw upon the entire region for their workforce, and although a significant number of workers live in the local area, Stayton and Sublimity are not "company" towns in the traditional sense.
Tourism is not as important as in other nearby areas: "Tourism and hospitality industry impacts are very significant in the trade area [the area around Stayton, namely the North Santiam Canyon], but not of major importance in Stayton and Sublimity" (p.9, "Market Analysis and Business Development Strategy Report for the Stayton/Sublimity Trade Area", Stayton/Sublimity Chamber of Commerce, 1995).
The largest employer currently in Sublimity is Marian Estates, a retirement facility, which citizens say does not pay its staff a family wage. Marian Estates has 3 facilities that house 375 residents. Its success reflects the growing importance of the retirement community.
The professional class is growing and depends upon commuting to the Salem metropolitan area. People also commute to Oregon City only 50 minutes away. At the same time, a number of observers pointed to the pattern of professional people, such as city hall, hospital and schools, living in Salem and commuting to Stayton. The housing, the easy commuting, and the quality of the schools attract the professional class.
"Over half the teachers live in Salem."
Stayton city administration reported that employers of major significance to Stayton residents, with number of employees listed, were as follows:
NORPAC, canned foods: 600
Phillips Industries, Metal doors, frames: 240
Stayton Schools, Education: 117
American Homestar Corporation: 150
Santiam Memorial Hospital, Medical: 116
Source: Community Profile, Oregon Economic and Community Development Department, 2002.
Major employers, with number of employees listed, for Sublimity are:
Marian Estates, Retirement center: 350
Cascade Chevrolet: 40
Sublimity Insurance: 22
D & W Automotive: 17
Steve Wheeler Tire Center: 16
Source: Community Profile, Oregon Economic and Community Development Department, 2002.
Business activity in downtown Stayton is struggling. Many people do not believe that downtown is "working" and some businesses are attempting to address redevelopment in the downtown core with mixed results. Residents complained that many desired local services are not available. They have asked for practical stores and they have appreciated BiMart for this reason. They complain about the lack of good restaurants and they lament the closure of the theatre.
Downtown business complains there is little traffic and that visitors do not know that 3rd street is (or once was) the core. Safeway and points north have taken some of the business, and is the locus of most traffic. In the future, business owners feel they can compete with "box stores" if they focus on high end products and provide excellent service.
"Personal relationship is always important in this business and in this town."
"Many local stores went under. There was a Dime Shop where Factory-2-U is today, the fabric shop, the music shop, and the performing arts center. There was an antique business but now there is E-Bay."
"The factory lay-offs are one reason why local businesses along 3rd street are suffering."
"The city is not soliciting the right kinds of businesses. It is not trying to revive the downtown area as much as it should."
"A lot of the older buildings are owned by older people waiting for the children to step in and take over, but they often don't, and the buildings stay empty."
Growth related businesses are doing very well - construction, building supply, home furnishings.
Today, there are several new Hispanic businesses but these do not seem integrated well into the Chamber of Commerce or the general business community. They are the source of new business growth but they clearly are not appreciated for their value.
"Hispanics used to come here on a seasonal basis to work on crops, but farms now use mechanized labor. There isn't the demand for crop pickers. They are staying because there are services like health care and barrios became established to absorb families into the community."
In summary, the most common observation of people regarding their work routines is that, "We have become a commuting economy."
Stayton and Sublimity are communities with strong caretaking networks and volunteer activity. As examples, people point to:
The crossover in boards and staff among the various organizations of the communities;
The Welcome Neighbor Program: their volunteers get lists of new residents from the phone company and visit newcomers;
The Jordan Bridge moving and reconstruction;
The hospital and golf course;
The school cafeteria was built by community members for the two high schools to share;
Public schools bus the private school children.
"The community volunteered time and donated money to build the High School common space when they discovered that students had no place to eat lunch."
"Parents formed an informal state-wide basketball league. Local fundraising efforts are made which brings in a significant amount of money."
"After September 11, ____ called a meeting that was well-attended. She's always doing stuff like that."
Stayton has a strong leadership base, and a stable core of people to accomplish civic activities. One old timer said that, "Sixty percent are old established names." This indicates that the communities are still able to absorb newcomers and stay grounded in traditions and values of the old, a mark of community resilience.
Children and youth get particular focus when people talked about Support Services.
"Twenty years ago, as a parent, you always knew where your kids were and what they were doing. This isn't the case today. The movie theater was perfect. You could drop off your kids and pick them up in the same exact spot. And if they were doing something bad, they knew someone in town would recognize them and tell their parents."
"The city really messed up when they raised the rent on the theater. In effect, it forced them out of business. I considered buying the theatre once. Kids need something to do, especially after dark."
Residents especially valued the schools. Almost everyone who commented on schools thought the quality of education in the area was especially good, partly related to smaller class size. Parent Teacher Organizations and school site councils are very active. A few observers thought that the number of students being home-schooled had increased in recent years. The presence of Catholic schools and a Christian school was also valued, as well as the collaboration and sharing of resources that occurred between schools.
"People like the quality of education in Sublimity. The small school district size is a plus."
"There are some good teachers here."
"The smaller schools are an attraction for Salem people who buy homes here."
"Parents are very supportive of education here. In this school parents volunteer up to 2000 hours per year." [School administrator]
"Schools here are fantastic. They offer many different programs. Budget cuts are coming this year so there may be difficulties in the future."
Friends of the Family received special attention. It is a nonprofit organization supported by Children and Families Commission and devoted to children and youth issues in the Mid-Valley. Their three programs are oriented to mentoring, peer courts and the education of young parents.
Historical redevelopment and preserving heritage rank high among local Support Services. A large number of individuals and organizations are involved. The Brewer House, dating from 1907, had a wonderful sunken garden that was backfilled and, since 1996, has been undergoing restoration. Community leaders recently began the Heritage Foundation as a non-profit, which has allowed it to purchase the Brown House and to begin the process of restoration. It is hoped that an emerging system of trails in the community will link to the Brown House.
The Stayton Farmers Market started 3 years ago to provide an outlet for organic produce. It has 5-6 vendors with more during berry season. It needs added support to remain viable.
The Stayton Community Foodbank was started 18 years ago by a ministerial association interested in acquiring USDA food donations. It was nurtured through the Community Crisis Center and became its own nonprofit in 1982. It provides between 175 and 200 food boxes a month, serving 525-600 people. Many volunteers make this program work and they receive food donations from a variety of sources, including Norpac vegetables - "Not many foodbanks have access to vegetables like we do." Clients include many single people from mothers to elderly, and seasonal employees at Norpac, who may be unemployed for six months at a time from December to June, make up a significant portion of their clients. In contrast, the churches presently are not part of networks of support for the needy, but rely on the Mission and the Foodbank.
In addition, the Community Action Resource Center, the Santiam campus of Chemeteka Community College, and some of the churches were especially mentioned as valuable to the community. The Catholic Church apparently is very active, and the First Baptist and Four Square support very active youth groups.
See Section Three.
The area is in transition, from agriculture to a "commuting economy."
Despite a growing professional class, the industrial base is still relied upon. It remains a working town with lots of factory work.
There are currently few opportunities for working people. Some economic displacement may be occurring. Workers and manufactured home dwellers live on the outskirts of town.
Hispanics are increasing but not very visible.
Downtown is experiencing deterioration, and efforts towards revitalization have not been fully successful.
People rely on commuting, mostly to Salem and some to the Portland area.
The improved Highway 22 has increased access to and from the City of Salem, leading to housing demand in the area from Salem residents, and some increased business connections (for example, the bakery).
The communities lack integration. The old and the new are not together in creating a vision and positive actions for the community. Many new-coming commuters are not aware of what the community has to offer, nor are they very involved in the community. In some ways, the community faces a bridging or leadership problem because, while there is a stable core of older time leadership, newer people have not consistently been brought along.
1. "We're all common people." Residents identified their community as one for working people. Born of agriculture and timber milling and factory work, people have prided themselves on their work ethic and in having a good community for raising kids. Everyone is aware that this heritage is changing rapidly.
"The older generation is dying off. Used to meet at the Depot. Younger folks aren't interested in connecting with others. They're all in a big hurry."
2. "Things take a long time to happen."
"Change is one of the things that people have difficulty with. The swimming pool and the library both took almost 15 years to build."
3. "Everybody points to Salem." [for products, jobs, and services]
4. "The whole area is going to change." Residential development. the Cascade Scenic Railway, the new Art Gallery, The Brown House, and the Oregon Garden are evidence.
5. "This is a community that is fragmented." Each subgroup seems unaware that others exist. There is no "worldview" that has united perspectives and activities across subgroups. Social segments are highly committed and sometimes effective but remain unintegrated, limiting the community in its ability to manage growth and change.
"Leaders don't have a vision for the community. They seem unwilling or unable to network for the greater good of the community."
"The pool was a source of pride when it was first built. It took a lot of money, but since then there has not been good maintenance. People lose interest. Same with the library."
"The Mexican businesses don't join the Chamber."
"These groups are open to collaboration but there has not been the leadership to unite them in a common direction."
Citizen Issues Related to Community Life
"Modular homes have been deed-restricted. They are pricing working people out of the community."
"Kids need something to do. There are latchkey kid problems because the parents are working."
"You know, there really isn't opportunity for young people. You have to leave, succeed, and maybe return and help the community."
"In the winter, kids are out of luck. There are more kids getting into trouble."
"They recently made a bust of a meth [methamphetamine] operation by the middle school. The choices we're making about housing and the local economy are creating social dysfunction, such as drug use."
A number of residents were concerned about the health of downtown business. The notion of shopping locally has been talked about for years, but seems to be getting added impetus lately. Chamber membership doubled to 475 this year and is cited as evidence that businesses will organize more in the future (The Stayton Mail, 1/30/02). The lack of downtown feeling is obvious to many. Local business owners talked about "that Sisters feeling" or the steps Silverton has taken to showcase its downtown. Some talked of poor communication and assistance from city government and council with the business community.
"We have tried to get permission and resources to construct a sign that would be posted on 1st street alerting locals and visitors of the businesses located in the 'old' downtown, 3rd street. If you drove through Stayton, you'd never know 3rd street existed. The City has been aware of this interest for years, but nothing gets done."
"The Chamber should foster more of these businesses started by semi-retired seniors. It would be an excellent way to increase senior participation in the community and possibly help revamp downtown."
"A lot of people don't want the rock quarry to be mined by Scio."
A cell tower approved by Marion County inside Stayton's urban growth boundary has drawn criticism from residents concerned about visual impacts.
"School enrollment is growing but new facilities have not been added since the 1970s. The schools are busting at the seams."
"The schools are getting overcrowded. Families with young children are especially asking where to send their kids to school."
The present cuts in education because of the limitations of state budget are a cause of widespread concern.
"More and more retired people and renters mean we lose the vote on bonds."
"The city doubled the cost of a building permit, from $5,000 to $10,000, supposedly to keep low cost housing out."
"Dairy Queen and the new retirement center are built in 'the swamp.' It floods there all the time. What a mistake."
"The city raised the lease price for the theatre and forced it out of business."
Plaza Restaurant, older, long-term residents.
Lovin' Oven, professional people; clubs; churches; city staff.
Mick and Mom's
Senior Center, serves lunches everyday.
BiMart, fishing and hunting information; senior citizens, especially on "lucky Tuesday" after 11 a.m.
Circle K, clerks share information about condition of mountain passes; lots of first name recognition.
Stayton Depot, community table; business people; factory workers; long timers.
The library has bulletin boards and is the location for many public meetings.
Key Community Contacts
John Brandt, local environmental leader; member of Oregon Natural Resource Council; valued for being pragmatic and reasonable.
John the barber at Fritz' Barber Shop; 3rd Street across from Lovin' Oven. John is an avid sportsman and in touch with a diverse range of local people.
Sister Mary Beth, Habitat for Humanity; ministerial committee, 50th Jubilee.
Jacqueline Kirby, Doctor Lindsey, and Mrs. Tom Anderson are important community caretakers.
Donna Zimmerman, City of Stayton.
Key informal networks in Stayton and Sublimity:
Mothers of school kids; active PTA in Sublimity
Historic preservation people
Stayton Farmers Market
Friends of Silver Falls
Mia Mohr on board;
Based in Sublimity
Interpretive center and promote education
People's Alliance for Livability in the Santiam Valley (PALS)
625 North Seventh Avenue
Stayton OR 97383
Jacqueline Kirby, Judy Skinner; Ernst Lau
Quality of life issues; Monitors land use; water quality in Little North Santiam, North Santiam and Thomas Creek; grant for trail system in Stayton.
North Santiam Watershed Council
John Brandt on board, 46
P.O. Box 855
Stayton OR 97383
The Trust for Public Lands
Buy river front land for Stayton's Parks Commission
Mike Bauer at Regis HS
Santiam Water Control District
284 E. Water Street, Stayton, OR 97383
400 members; mostly agricultural, some residential
Scio Biking Club
Stayton Farmers Market
Want more participation; opportunity for special forest products people.
Stayton/Sublimity Chamber of Commerce
1203 N 1st
Stayton, OR 97383
Trust for Public Lands
Willamette Valley Ponderosa Pine Conservation Association
40823 Huntley Rd.
Stayton, OR 97383 (503) 769-9806
Conserve and reestablish native strain of Willamette Valley ponderosa pine
When we asked people about recreation activities, people said, "You gotta go to Salem." We thought that was odd because we expected an outdoor population. And in fact, many people are active in the out of doors as described below. The Salem comment again reflects the increasing urban orientation of these communities. When people talked about how awful it was that the local theatre went out of business, in the same breath, they would talk about the new theatre complex on Lancaster Drive in Salem, and how nice it was. Locals said the local theatre was unable to compete.
Among the outdoor activities mentioned frequently were these:
Recreational Vehicles (RVs)
Walking (trails and clubs)
"Locals wait a few weeks into hunting season before they go out. The purpose is to wait until the city people start thinning out so they can have some space to hunt without all the people around them."
"I shot an elk up in Opal Creek and a logger came across me skinning the animal and helped me out. I went back the next day and brought him a bottle of the finest scotch."
"I took this guy and his family from Portland out steelhead fishing. They were doing a lot of things wrong, and I took it upon myself to show them how to treat the area."
"The fish people do an incredible job maintaining fish runs."
"We avoid state lands because they outlawed clearcuts and elk like clearcut habitat. We go to Willamette Industries."
A few people related how urbanites have long standing ties with landowners for hunting on their property. One man had a 7-year relationship with a family in Portland. Often these are reciprocal relations - the urbanites typically invite the landowner for meals during the course of a stay.
"My boys have been into boating all their lives, and they are now in their late '50s."
RV users did not report patterns of local use:
"Once you get a motor home, you don't want to go around here, you want to go farther. A lot of my friends prefer Diamond Lake and eastern Oregon, or to the coast."
"Many of my customers praise Forest Service policies. The forest is pristine and the parks are clean and well organized. I like how they are diligent in creating trails. Most of my customers never leave their campsites, although they will fish near their camp site." [Owner of an RV outlet]
Snowmobilers like the Detroit Lake area and Hoodoo, although most reported that local areas are not as preferred as the Bend area or eastern Oregon. Not only is the snow better in the areas to the east, but the trails and facilities are better.
"Eastern Oregon is more popular for snowmobiling because they have established trails there."
In-town activities included school sports, soccer, an informal basketball league, the Harvest Festival, the two fitness centers, power walking, and interest in and use of walking trails. Many people valued the pedestrian-friendly nature of the communities. While younger people like OHV use, snowboarding and camping, older people at Marian Estates take frequent day trips "up the canyon" from Sublimity.
Finally, a couple people mentioned how their former occupation in the woods has shifted to recreation in the woods:
"I never had interest in hiking the woods when I was working in them, but now that I'm retired, I hike all the time."
For economic livelihood, people used to orient to public lands. Many residents worked in the timber mills before they closed, and several commented that people would go "up" to the mills for work. This employment base has dramatically declined.
"There is no reliance on the forest here, except the mill work, and most of that was in the past."
"The only native runs on the Santiam were winter runs. They expect a banner year this year for some reason."
As a topic, "public lands" was not a natural subject of conversation. The term "forest" at least evoked a response, but not a strong one. Part of the reason that locals are not oriented to the forest is that the local environment, until recently, was very rural.
"In those days, all of this was open space. Who needed to go to the forest to get away?"
"I never knew there were hiking trails until I was 27 years old. Living around here 30 years ago there was not much need for that since we had lots of open space."
The connections with the canyon communities are with the attractions of Detroit Lake, Mt. Jefferson, and Pamelia Lake. Kids programs unite upper and lower valleys. And many families have "special spots" for picnics and for trail use, such as Opal Creek and Silver Falls. The "Junior Police Derby" has been held for 19 years in which children from single-parent homes are taken to Detroit Lake to fish. The Forest Service is credited with support for this program and assistance in making it a success.
Related to the farming culture here, many people talked about "islands of habitat" amid agricultural fields that have become valued in local communities. The health of these islands is measured by the number of mushrooms (early and late morels) that grow in the deadwood areas.
This area has a few environmentalists who have participated in public land use decisionmaking related to timber sales, Opal Creek determinations and other issues. John Brandt is known locally as someone who has helped broker decisions that were environmentally sound but also socially responsive. He was influential in talking through the Opal Creek decision in the local community.
"Locals use the forest for harvesting huckleberries, fishing, hunting, rock collecting and firewood. The local attitude has always been that you don't come out of the woods unless you have something dead."
The City of Stayton's Park Commission is trying to build a network of trails in Stayton along the river with the ultimate goal being to encourage pedestrian travel and outdoor activities. Efforts are being made to buy acreage next to the river and to promote future access to the river for future generations. The Trust for Public Lands is involved with the City in this effort.
A local retired schoolteacher is currently writing a book for senior citizens on how to safely enjoy the forest.
"Baby boomers are pushing us to do these things. They are coming right behind us so there is a need for these kinds of publications."
"We helped ONRC [Oregon Natural Resource Council] do a survey at Box Canyon the last two years identifying the areas of concern for erosion. The Forest Service has acted on all our recommendations, for which we are quite pleased."
The City of Stayton "Community Profile" listed the Mt. Hood National Forest, but not the Willamette National Forest.
Schools do outdoor education on an ad hoc basis, depending on the individual teachers. The Sublimity Middle School has a science teacher who has taken on several outdoor education projects in the past, and the school occasionally conducts day trips to the forest and the hatchery.
In the last few years, however, two local school districts, the Santiam and the North Santiam have jointly undertaken with the U.S. Forest Service, OSU Extension, the North Santiam Watershed Council, Friends of Opal Creek, and other partners, a watershed education program called colloquially "Shed Ed." Focused on natural resource education, the program uses a variety of methods, including guest speakers and field trips, to orient and train students in local ecology. The program is currently being certified for "CIM/CAM" (Certificate of Initial Mastery, Certificate of Advanced Mastery) at the state level, making it appropriate for export to other school districts.
The Chamber of Commerce gets many inquiries related to public lands. Information is actively sought through the office on campgrounds, fishing spots, the right bait, road closures, and so on. Its staff feels like people, especially from out of town, are not aware of who to call for this information and that the Chamber is accepted as a source of information. However, their information is limited and many times out of date. Our research revealed that public land users do not stop in Stayton/Sublimity on the way up the canyon - phone calls are made but visits are not.
There is growing awareness of watershed wide issues that has stimulated an interest in greater communication and region wide organization. Residents and leaders expressed specifically their need for greater cooperation on natural resource issues.
"Why are they protecting the fish when for years there was no such thing as 'native runs?' It has all been introduced."
Does the Northwest Plan expire?
Is the Freres mill secure?
"We'd hate to lose that mill. And if we did, would we lose access to the river, too?"
"We need to improve our relations with the Forest Service." [Santiam Water Control District]
"Can the Forest Service expand its useful role in the Watershed Council?"
"Will the Forest Service review the reauthorization of the dams so that water is kept available?"
Access and information
"BPA should not have lowered to water levels at the [Detroit] Lake, but what are they going to do? Do you want rolling blackouts in California?"
"They should come up with a more equitable way to acquire hunting tags. Now it is very difficult to get an OK to go bird hunting at 'Birds,' but I went there for several years and never had to get a 'ticket' or a 'permit.'"
"We don't have adequate information from the Forest Service about recreation opportunities." [Chamber of Commerce]
"I have suggested with the Forest Service that a trail be built around Detroit Lake to attract more visitors and to educate people about bio-diversity. It looks like they've taken me seriously."
"I get tired of sending people to Silver Falls. I'd like information on other campgrounds or day hikes. A recreational map would be helpful. Also, it seems like people have to go all the way up to the Detroit Ranger Station to get information."
"This area has lost money because of timber tax decline."
"People didn't like that camping spots were charged for. But locals were equally excited about knowing where the no fee spots were."
"'Flatlanders' are usually the ones causing the problems in the forest."
"It's a struggle to make [camping] reservations. It seems like their computers are down, or takes a while to get through. It takes repeated efforts and then you get there and the campground is half full."
"I don't like all the road closures on State and BLM lands."
Fishing information is obtained through Bi Mart and GI Joes. The clerk at BiMart is considered very knowledgeable about hunters and fishers in the area and their interests.
Nearly 500 students and their families attended the Friends of the Family Back to School Faire last year at the Stayton Elementary School. It offers a variety of community services, such as immunizations by the Marion County Health Department, free haircuts, and clothing giveaways. The YMCA, the Scouts and churches sign up members during this event. This event could be used to communicate with the local community. Other opportunities are the 4th annual Rodeo. the Summer festival, and the Marketplace.
Use the expressed interest from the Stayton Chamber of Commerce to be an information source for the general public. Offices such as these need a personal contact that they can communicate with over time. The Forest Service could consider an annual regional gathering of similar organizations for a day's picnic and orientation to public land information. Attendance at the Marketplace event in the Fall would be an excellent opportunity to educate residents about public land resources and stewardship. The Marketplace is an "open house" event that showcases city programs, local nonprofit organizations including social service agencies, clubs, and so on.
Link the Stayton/Sublimity Web pages with Detroit Lake Forest Service Web page.
Support and broaden the Watershed Council, fostering an ongoing, community-based approach.
Extend the Rural Community Assistance (RCA) program of USDA into this community.
Support and extend Shed Ed as viable, innovative, outdoor education program.
Maintain the policy of the RV campgrounds being especially neat and orderly. RV users appreciate this characteristic.
Lend support to trails system development in Stayton. Technical assistance could be offered for the intra-city system and financial/technical assistance for the trail from Brown House to public lands.
Support existing efforts for micro-enterprise, especially those linked to forest resources (meat, wood products).
The Foot Bridge needs interpretation, perhaps facilitated through the Watershed Council.
We predict that Stayton will attempt to become the staging area for public land visitors in the future. The Forest Service could facilitate this effort and foster ecological education for urban visitors.
Find the personal stewards of the land, especially those tied to urban populations and develop helping relationships with them to accomplish outdoor education. This could be used to accomplish effective regulation, so that users understand the rationale for the regulations.
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