Featured DRA Supporters
Each month, DRA will be featuring one supporter who has not only helped make our work possible, but has impacted the Deschutes and other Pacific Northwest rivers in remarkable ways.
Leon Speroff, MD
Professor Emeritus of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Oregon Health & Science University
About Leon Speroff…
In selecting our nominees for recognition by the DRA, we seek out supporters who aren’t largely known to the broader public. These aren’t the famous guides or fishing writers. These are the everyday users of the lower Deschutes River. These are the lynchpins of the lower Deschutes River community.
So why did we pick a former professor of obstetrics and gynecology this month? Discover why below:
Leon learned to fly fish on the Deschutes River, beginning on his first float trip with the legendary guide, Oscar Lange. Starting in 1992, for 24 years, he and his fly-fishing buddies (who call themselves “The Boys”) enjoyed an annual fishing trip down the Deschutes River from Warm Springs to Harpham Flat. The Deschutes River became special for them, with favorite fishing spots and preferred campsites. They also had their share of adventures, especially in Whitehorse Rapids, learning that the river demands vigilance and caution. The Boys’ river trips made them familiar with the story of the railroads on the river, providing Leon with the curiosity and motivation to research and write the Deschutes railroad story. Even though Leon’s publisher went bankrupt, his fascinating book, The Deschutes River Railroad War, is still available on Kindle. (Editor’s note: print copies of The Deschutes River Railroad War are available used through Amazon.com.)
Leon has fished in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Canada, Patagonia, New Zealand, and Croatia. But on every trip he found himself thinking that he still likes the Deschutes River the best. His favorite time is when he first gets on the river in the morning. The temperature is comfortable; there is no fierce wind. The sky is a beautiful blue, and the clear air is scented with Juniper and Mock Orange. This peaceful, easy time gives Leon as much pleasure as catching a fish. It is his Deschutes time to stop the world. Sitting in camp in the evening is also an enjoyable time, telling old stories and a few lies about the day’s fishing.
Why Leon Supports the Deschutes River Alliance…
“Because of these trips, we came to know the Deschutes River very well. We could sense over the years that something was happening. The timing of the hatches was changing, the fishing became more challenging, and the increasing algae on the rocks made it more difficult to wade in the river. We didn’t have a good explanation for this change, until the Deschutes River Alliance collected enough data to tell the story.
The explanation that the Deschutes River Alliance gives us is solid in its logic, based upon scientific evidence. Knowing the reasons for the changes in the Deschutes River motivated me to support the Deschutes River Alliance. I know that I am not alone in thinking of the Deschutes River as an old friend. And when a friend is in trouble, it’s time to step up and help that friend. When this fight for our river became critical, I doubled my financial commitment. I hope this short account of my personal relationship will tug some hearts out there to join this fight. The Deschutes River Alliance is fighting this fight, not just for us, but for generations to come.”
Previously Featured DRA Supporters
About Lisa Hansen…
Lisa’s passion for conservation was sparked in the 1970’s when she lived along the Clackamas River in Carver. She spent her summers hiking in the forests of Mt. Hood and floating the river. The clear cold water of the upper Clackamas and Collawash Rivers amazed her. In the 1990s Lisa was introduced to the desert beauty of the Deschutes by her late husband, Dr. Keith Hansen. They spent many summers with the kids of their blended family camping and fly fishing on the river. The Deschutes taught Lisa patience, as well as creative line untangling as she learned the art of fly fishing in the canyon. Keith’s love for the river extended from the long steelhead runs to the conservation organizations that supported wild native fish and their habitat. With his encouragement, Lisa joined the Native Fish Society Board in 2004 and served on their board for nearly 13 years. She was honored to be the first ‘regular’ female member the Flyfishers’ Club of Oregon (FCO) in 2004 and currently serves on the Club’s board and as the editor of their Flyline newsletter. FCO features a conservation article every month on topics salient to fish, rivers, and wildlife habitat.
In the early 2000’s Keith worked with other FCO members to form a Conservation Committee within the Club. Keith spearheaded the first major fundraiser at the Club’s annual auction in 2003, resulting in a grant award of nearly $17,000 to the Deschutes Basin Land Trust for conservation on Lake Creek in the Metolius watershed. Support of conservation has flourished within the Club, and their Flyfisher Foundation (FFF) has donated over $276,000 in conservation grants to date. Since Keith’s passing in 2009, the FCO and FFF have honored him by holding the Keith Hansen Memorial Paddle Raise at their annual auction. The DRA has been recipient of several FFF grants including the 2017 paddle raise that yielded over $23,000. Lisa is proud to carry on Keith’s enthusiasm and love for wild native fish within the FCO and multiple northwest-based conservation groups. She prioritizes support for groups that work to improve river health, protect wild places, and support policies that protect fish and wildlife.
Here’s why Lisa supports the Deschutes River Alliance:
“I was inspired by the DRAs mission since its inception. It boasts a unique collection of dedicated individuals who care deeply about the Deschutes. They stepped up to do something about the drastic changes in the ecology of the lower river by getting into the water and reporting what they found with pictures, detailed observations, and most of all, data. As a nurse with a research background, I have been impressed by the evidence-based approach the DRA has taken to describe the changes to the river that have been brought on by Pelton/Round Butte Selective Water Withdrawal. I appreciate the scope of the DRA’s data collection, and their tenacity in taking on big business and government agencies that do not seem to be taking the changes in the river seriously enough. We must have good data to come up with valid hypotheses and appropriately targeted interventions. The DRA is taking the right approach by striving to accurately define the challenges to our beloved Deschutes. We need to follow the data in order to develop workable solutions to heal its waters.”
About Paul Franklin…
Paul Franklin has long played an active role in protecting Oregon’s rivers and fish, and has supported and served on the Board of Directors of several Oregon nonprofits. This includes nearly eight years as Vice President of the Native Fish Society, and three years as Board President at WaterWatch of Oregon. This represents a tremendous investment of time and energy on behalf of fish and water. Anyone who fishes in Oregon should be grateful for Paul’s work.
Paul Franklin lends his extensive business and marketing expertise as a volunteer business advisor to the Deschutes River Alliance.
Here’s why Paul supports the Deschutes River Alliance:
“My love affair with the Deschutes River started in 1978 when my wife and I started camping and fishing the river, three days a week at least twice per month, May through September. We had a sweet, almost secret camping spot that lasted until the rafters found the river and drove us out. So, we bought into a house with four other people in Maupin and started coming to the river even more frequently and all year around.
The Deschutes River, with its water, topography, birds, wildlife, people and, of course, the fish, is a big part of our lives and is embedded in our souls. The past 20 years, we have spent less time on the river but it’s place in our hearts and memories didn’t change. Until, that is, we began to see the traumatic changes occurring in the river. The place of great memories and of always fun and rewarding fishing times, no matter the catch, became a place we saw slipping away. As Deschutes River Alliance was formed and emerged, I saw throwing support its way as the only way to reverse the nasty trends impacting the Deschutes. That belief remains and motivates me to be continually supportive of the DRA and its efforts.”
About Bucky Buchstaber...
Bucky Buchstaber is the founder and Executive Director of the Fly Fishing Collaborative, an international non-profit building environmentally safe and sustainable aquaponics farms for safe homes and impoverished villages around the world, as a way to prevent kids from entering human trafficking. This important work has been accomplished by establishing a global network of partners in fly fishing and beyond who give of their time and talents to help move the good cause forward.
Bucky grew up in Medford with an abusive father and an overworked mother, and in those tumultuous years found great solace exploring the Rogue River behind his grandparents house in Grants Pass. While he didn’t realize it at the time, the river had become a respite, a safe place to go when human relationships were inconsistent and insecure. He moved to Portland in 2007, and knew he had to find a new river to connect with. It only took one trip to the Deschutes for it to become his river of choice. The first time he fished “the D” was at the famed “Dizney Riffle”—he used his grandfather’s old 8’ 4st Dickerson cane rod, stepped into the pool at the bottom of the riffle, and casually cast his fly upstream. Immediately a fish gulped his fly, his line came tight, and his reel was screaming louder than she ever had before. While he has caught many more fish on the Deschutes since that day, that trout, connected to his grandfather’s old cane rod, struck a chord deep in his soul. That was the fish the river used to catch him.
In 2013, Bucky’s passions were realized as his love for kids, creative ingenuity, and entrepreneurship were combined to found Fly Fishing Collaborative. When he’s not on the river fishing with FFC collaborators or building a farm in a developing country, he’s treasuring his time with Britta, his wife of 19 years, and their four kids, Lucy, Crosby, Griffin, and George, who all share the same passion for his non-profit work.
Here’s why Bucky supports the Deschutes River Alliance:
“Like many who love and frequent the Deschutes River I’ve seen unavoidable changes in recent years. You don’t have to be a biologist to notice that critically warm water temperatures and other water quality changes are causing less prolific hatches, unwelcome algae growth, and fish disease in the lower river. This is clearly a manmade problem and it will take manmade solutions to remedy. When I saw that a group of biologists, seasoned guides and passionate river activists came together to form the DRA I knew the problem had become severe, but was excited to see that much needed advocacy had begun. I’m very proud to support the DRA and stand behind its bold efforts to bring solutions to such a threatened ecosystem. It’s been very sad to see the Deschutes decline so quickly, but my great hope is that my kids will get to witness the opposite effect.”