In Memory of Doug Robertson

Reposted with permission from Greg McMillan, Deschutes River Alliance

It was with great sadness that we learned of the passing of longtime Deschutes River and wild fish advocate Doug Robertson. Doug was 69 years old.

No person who floats, fishes, or camps on the lower Deschutes River below Macks Canyon should fail to give thanks to Doug.

In 1983 the Eastern Oregon Land Company owned most of the lower twelve miles of the Deschutes River. The land was used primarily for cattle grazing. The banks of the river were totally denuded of any vegetation. Gravel bars over a mile long were the norm. There were few alder trees to offer shade.

Doug learned that Eastern Oregon Land Company was interested in selling the property. One potentially interested party was planning on developing a resort in the Harris Canyon area.

Doug then negotiated an offer to purchase the property. Doug next coerced then Governor Vic Atiyeh into having the State of Oregon back the offer. Governor Atiyeh then asked Oregon Wildlife Heritage Foundation to lead an effort to raise funds to make the purchase of the land. OWHF raised over $1 million of private money, and cobbled together state and federal funding to complete the purchase on behalf of the people of Oregon.

The State of Oregon took possession of the property and streamside recovery began under the management of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.That stretch of river is nearly unrecognizable from what it was back then. Today, it is one of Oregon’s most treasured recreational assets. None of this would have happened without Doug’s vision and efforts. All of us should be eternally grateful to him.

Doug was a dedicated fly angler. Doug’s love for the Deschutes was life-long. He and his wife Nan own a cabin above the Locked Gate. Doug was a longtime board member of the Native Fish Society.

There is a monument bearing Doug and Nan’s names at Robertson Point near Harris Canyon. If you stop there, please take a moment and say a heartfelt thanks to a man who made a major difference on the lower Deschutes River.

Our sincerest condolences go out to Doug’s wife Nan, their family and friends.


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