Hallie Ford School of Graduate Studies

Collaborations: MFA CD Blog

Workshop: Smith Rock Adventure

smith rock, gray

The Collaborative Design’s Smith Rock elective was a weekend workshop in Central Oregon’s majestic Smith Rock State Park and surrounding area. Located between Sisters and Redmond, Oregon, Smith Rock State Park encompasses 651 acres on the Oregon high desert plateau and towers to 3000 feet in elevation. The Collaborative Design class met with Park Ranger Bruce Smith to talk about the history of the park and discuss some of the wicked problems that arise from the contentious intersection between landowners, park service, visitors, and wildlife.

smith rock, emma and chelsea
Chelsea and Emma

Aerial disturbance to Gold Eagles, which nest in the rock formations, is one such problem that has been ongoing and unresolved. Over the years, disturbance to nesting eagles has led to decreased survival of fledglings, and a drop in returning nesters. Smith Rock is also known for attracting year round visitors with over 1800 climbing routes, a popular sport whose unregulated days may be numbered at the park. The park service is currently faced with the challenging decision to regulate some of these climbs to protect visitors who may fall vicitim to reckless climbing practices associated with the popular “swing” off Monkey Face Rock coveted by thrill seekers. The student group broke out into some great brainstorming sessions on how to draw solutions around these and other problems with consideration to multiple stakeholders.

smith rock, peter
Fearless leader, Peter Schoonmaker.

The final day of the workshop, the group was visited by Brad Chalfant from Deschutes Land Trust, who shared his experiences in land use planning in rural areas. His insightful lecture emphasized that management is not one-size fits all, exemplified by recreation-oriented Bend as compared to the ranching-oriented city of Prineville. The trip was wrapped up with a visit to the B&B fire complex on the Deschutes National Forest, Sisters Ranger District, where the chair of the collaborative program, Peter Schoonmaker, led discussions on changing forest management practices over time.

smith rock, santigie

The workshop was an effective place-based educational experience for students to learn about some of the problems that exist within even the most beautiful systems. Furthermore, it provided an opportunity for the group to learn more about each other and establish strong and trusting relationships that will certainly last beyond the the inaugural 2-year program.

smith rock, fording
Fording the stream

Text by Chelsea Stephens ’13
Photos by Halley Roberts ’13

* * *