Prescribed burns scheduled Monday, Tuesday south of Sisters

On Monday and Tuesday,  fuel specialists will conduct prescribed burning operations about 7 miles south of Sisters adjacent to Forest Service Road (FSR) 16 and near Melvin Butte.

These burns were planned for last week but were not completed due to weather.

Specialists will underburn approximately 147 acres on two units. Ignitions will begin at 9:00 each day.

Smoke will be visible from Highway 20 between Sisters and Bend, Highway 126 between Sisters and Redmond, and in the Sister’s area.

Signs will be placed on the FSR 16  that will indicate to motorists to slow down because of smoke impacts. Signs also will be posted on FSR 1620. Motorists should avoid FSR 1620 during operations due to smoke impacts and heavy fire traffic.

The objective of this prescribed burn is to reduce the risk of high intensity fire to the public and firefighters and to protect public and private property by producing defensible space.

The prescribed fire will reduce uncharacteristically high fuel loads improving forest health, sustainability, and resiliency.

The public can find an interactive map of prescribed burns as well as air quality information at this link:

If the public wants to sign up for text alerts about prescribed fires and wildfires they should text COFIRE to 888-777.

The public is encouraged to close their windows at night and if smoke is on the roadway, turn on headlights and slow down while traveling through smoky areas.

The public’s health is important to the Forest Service.

While significant preventive measures are taken, many factors influence a person’s susceptibility to smoke, including severity and duration of smoke exposure and a person’s health.

If individuals feel impacted by smoke, they should avoid outdoor physical exertion and remain indoors.

If people experience serious health impacts from the smoke, they should contact their doctor. For more information about smoke and health, visit the Oregon Health Authority recommendations through this link:

Reward climbs to $10K for info on 2020 elk poaching near Sisters

The Oregon Hunters Association (OHA) is offering $10,000 for information that leads to an arrest or citation in the case of three elk that were poached west of Bend on or about Oct. 28, 2020.

In early April, OHA Bend, Redmond, Capitol, Josephine and Mid-Columbia chapters, along with several private donors, pooled resources to increase the reward amount to $6,500.

Additional private donations and an infusion of $1,000 from the OHA State Board last week raised the total to $10,000.

Several thousand dollars of the reward was donated to OHA by non-hunters who are equally enraged.

OSP Fish and Wildlife Troopers located the cow elk carcass on Oct. 30 after a hunter scouting the Dry Canyon area east of Sisters reported it to the Turn In Poachers (TIP) Line.

Troopers then discovered a large bull elk carcass nearby.

The bull elk’s head had been removed as a trophy.

Although bull elk were in season at the time, it is a crime to leave carcasses to waste.

Two days later, on Nov. 1, a hunter reported the carcass of a one-year-old male spike elk about 40 yards from where the cow had been found.

Based on decomposition, all three animals were shot at or near the same time, and certainly the same day according to OSP F&W Senior Trooper Creed Cummings, who processed the scene.

OHA Vice President Steve Hagan, who oversees the TIP rewards program for the organization, describes the case as upsetting.

“This case has generated outrage in Central Oregon,” he said. “This happened awhile back, but we haven’t forgotten about it. Hopefully this increased reward will help generate leads towards resolution to this case.”

Oregon’s Stop Poaching campaign coordinator Yvonne Shaw agrees.

“This is a blatant waste of Oregonians’ natural resources,” she said, “Not only have these animals been removed from legal hunting in season, they have been removed from chance encounters with hikers, photographers and others who appreciate the opportunity to experience wildlife. Poachers take from all of us.”

All three elk were most likely shot on opening day of the East Central Cascade elk season which ran Oct. 28 through Nov. 1, 2020.

Instead of the cash reward, a caller to the TIP Line could opt for six hunter preference points if their report leads to a citation.

OSP Troopers would like anyone in the area who heard shots at night or noticed anything unusual on opening day of the season to call the TIP Line at 1-800-452-7888 or by cell *OSP (*677) or by email

▶️ Picky Bar founders eager for new chapter with Laird Superfood merger

Today, Picky Bars sells and distributes protein bars, oatmeal, granola, pancake mix and more — all from their Bend headquarters.

The business has come a long way from where it all started in 2010, when athletes Lauren Fleshman, Jesse Thomas and Steph Bruce would hand packaging granola bars from their kitchen in Springfield, Oregon.

“It ended up actually having legs as a business, and then it was, how can we bring Picky Bars in Jesse’s hometown and grow something we’re proud of in Central Oregon?” Fleshman said.

After their bars have landed on the shelves of well-known stores and into the hands of many, Picky Bars announced Tuesday they’ve sold for $12 million to the Sisters-based company Laird Superfood.

“The fact that we’re 20 minutes away from Sisters was huge for both brands,” Thomas said. “It was a huge part of what made Lauren and I comfortable with being acquired.”

Fleshman and Thomas said the merger works well because the companies share similar values and back stories.

Both are centered around healthy living and both are founded by professional athletes. Professional surfing legend Laird Hamilton and volleyball star Gabby Reece started Laird Superfood in 2015.

“People that want to live healthy, active lifestyles, they bring those brand values here,” Thomas said. “It makes sense that brands and products that are aligned with those values are then very successful having companies here (in Central Oregon).”

The founders say the merger means a wider distribution network, and will mean some product overlap and new product development, although the Picky Bar label will stick around.

But it also means a new chapter of life for the founders, who have felt the pressure of running a startup for the past eleven years.

“It does feel good to get to the end of this particularly chapter in our story and feel like we really did build something,” Fleshman said.


Central Oregon energy food giants combine as Laird Superfood acquires Picky Bars

Laird Superfood has acquired Picky Bars for $12 million in cash and stock, combining two Central Oregon natural energy food companies.

“We are so excited to welcome Picky Bars into the Laird family,” said Laird CEO Paul Hodge. “Founded by three incredible athletes who are true to their mission and vision, Picky Bars aligns with our core values of trust and authenticity and our product ethos prioritizing high performance and sustainability, not just for athletes, but for everyone in everyday life.”

He said the acquisition helps Laird move forward with its strategies of expanding its brand platform in the bars and snacks category.

Bend-based Picky Bars was founded 10 years ago in the home kitchens of endurance athletes Jesse Thomas, Lauren Fleshman, and Stephanie Rothstein Bruce.

The company has expanded to include performance oatmeal, granola, nut butter and other products.

“We are beyond stoked as we expect this acquisition to accelerate our already strong growth by expanding our distribution, enhancing our product development, and creating even more jobs in our local community,” Thomas said in a post on Picky’s website. “Overall, coming together with LSF will increase the positive impact we can have on our communities and the world at large. We feel incredibly lucky to have found such an amazing fit for our team and brand… and just right around the corner in Sisters, Oregon!”

Laird Superfood, Inc. is a Sisters-based company that creates award-winning, plant-based superfood products.

The Company was co-founded in 2015 by the world’s most prolific big-wave surfer, Laird Hamilton.

It’s the second big local business merger this year.

In March, Deschutes Brewery and Boneyard Brewery merged.

Deschutes Brewery, Boneyard Beer to merge in ‘Dream Team’ joint venture

Sisters High School, middle school closed while officials trace COVID cases

COVID cases at Sisters High School and a connection to the middle school forced students back to online learning Thursday, district officials said.

Baseball, softball and the girls’ tennis matches scheduled for Thursday would continue, however.

Superintendent Curt Scholl told parents in an email said the move “will allow us the time to conduct more thorough Contact Tracing to truly identify who was impacted and to help us determine the next steps.”

Later Thursday morning the district’s athletic department said officials were able to trace and identify everyone who needed to be quarantined.

Elementary students remained in school on Thursday.

Scholl said the district would contact “many families to accurately access the impact of this situation.”

He expected to send out more information and an update later Thursday.

If any student believes they have been in close contact, which is within 6 feet for a total of 15 minutes within a 24-hour period, of a COVID-19 positive person, please contact your school.

Our team will be contacting many families to accurately assess the impact of this situation. We will send another communication out tomorrow afternoon with any updated information or needed actions.

Local high schools to host free COVID vaccination clinics for students

In a first for the state, Central Oregon high schools will host free vaccination clinics for students starting next week.

The High School COVID-19 Vaccination Clinics project will reduce barriers to vaccine accessibility among our youth while building healthier communities worldwide.

Beginning next week, the region’s 4,000 high schoolers – youth 16 and older – one of the fastest-growing COVID-19 positive age groups in the state, will be able to receive their first vaccine – free – at school.

The effort is thanks to a regional partnership with local school districts, Mosaic Pediatrics, La Pine Community Health Center, St. Charles Health System, Deschutes County Health Services and Crook County Health Department.

“This effort will remove socio-economic, language and transportation barriers – increasing access for students, thus helping to slow the spread of the virus and protect those around them – grandparents, teachers and bus drivers, family members and friends,” said Ellie Millan, PNP and Pediatrics Clinic Medical Director at Mosaic Medical. “The vaccines are powerful tools that, in conjunction with other safety measures like face masks, good hygiene and physical distancing, can help keep our schools open and students in class with their teachers and peers.”

In Oregon, minors who are 15 or older are able to consent to medical services – including immunizations – without parental consent.

Like their adult counterparts, youth who are fully vaccinated and are not symptomatic will not be required to quarantine if deemed a close contact to a COVID-19 positive individual – keeping fully vaccinated students in classrooms and participating in athletics, activities and other enrichment activities.

Each high school will host two clinics before the end of the school year, allowing students who choose to participate to be fully vaccinated before the summer:

Bend Senior High School: April 29 and May 20

La Pine High School: May 6 and May 27

Mountain View High School: May 4 and May 25

Crook County High School: May 4 and May 25

Summit High School: May 6 and May 27

Redmond High School: May 7 and May 26

Ridgeview High School: May 11 and June 1

Sisters High School: May 13 and June 3

Madras High School: Completed in April

Students from area private schools, alternative learning options and charter schools will be invited to attend the clinic nearest to their school location.

Summit High School senior Julia Burdsall already received a COVID-19 vaccination and is excited that high schools will host free vaccination clinics in the coming weeks.

“Being fully vaccinated is such a relief – it feels awesome!,” said Burdsall. “These free clinics at school are going to be a great and easy way for students at our high school to get vaccinated and I hope students who are eligible participate. Getting vaccinated was important to me because I want to do my part to protect my family and community.”

Julia is one of many student ambassadors who are helping spread the word to students throughout the region, encouraging fellow students to get vaccinated as soon as they are eligible.

Families are encouraged to discuss vaccinations and make a decision about their student’s participation together, and to learn more about vaccines through trusted sources such as the CDC, Oregon Health Authority, or their doctor.

“These clinics are a shining example of the incredible public-private partnerships we have in Central Oregon, where agencies are working together to help create safer and healthier communities” said Muriel DeLaVergne-Brown, Public Health Administrator, Crook County Health Department. “We are thrilled that these clinics will help our students get back closer to normal – and be able to enjoy the summer safely with their friends and families.”

Mosaic Pediatrics is the medical sponsor of the Bend, Redmond and Sisters area clinics. Deschutes County Health Services, in partnership with La Pine Community Health Center and St. Charles Health System, is delivering the La Pine area clinic.

Crook County Health Department will offer the vaccine to students in Crook County.

Madras High School completed school-based vaccinations, with Mosaic, in April.


Central Oregon small businesses now eligible for federal disaster loans

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Small businesses in Crook, Deschutes and Jefferson counties are among 18 in Oregon now eligible to apply for low-interest federal disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

These loans offset economic losses because of reduced revenues caused by drought in the following primary counties that began April 15, 2021.

Primary Oregon counties:  Baker, Crook, Deschutes, Jefferson and Klamath;

Neighboring Oregon counties:  Douglas, Grant, Harney, Jackson, Lake, Lane, Linn, Malheur, Marion, Union, Wallowa, Wasco and Wheeler;

Neighboring California counties: Modoc and Siskiyou;

Neighboring Idaho counties: Adams and Washington.

“SBA eligibility covers both the economic impacts on businesses dependent on farmers and ranchers that have suffered agricultural production losses caused by the disaster and businesses directly impacted by the disaster,” said Tanya N. Garfield of SBA’s Disaster Field Operations Center-West

Small nonfarm businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private nonprofit organizations of any size may qualify for Economic Injury Disaster Loans of up to $2 million to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses which could have been met had the disaster not occurred.

“Eligibility for these loans is based on the financial impact of the disaster only and not on any actual property damage,” Garfield said. “These loans have an interest rate of 3 percent for businesses and 2 percent for private nonprofit organizations, a maximum term of 30 years and are available to small businesses and most private nonprofits without the financial ability to offset the adverse impact without hardship.”

By law, SBA makes Economic Injury Disaster Loans available when the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture designates an agricultural disaster. The Secretary declared this disaster on April 19, 2021.

Businesses primarily engaged in farming or ranching are not eligible for SBA disaster assistance.

Agricultural enterprises should contact the Farm Services Agency about the U.S. Department of Agriculture assistance made available by the Secretary’s declaration. However, nurseries are eligible for SBA disaster assistance in drought disasters.

Applicants may apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information and download applications at

Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email for more information on SBA disaster assistance.

Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing may call (800) 877-8339. Completed applications should be mailed to U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX  76155.

The deadline to apply for economic injury is Dec. 20, 2021.

Prescribed burn scheduled south of Sisters Wed-Fri

Beginning Wednesday and continuing on Friday, fuel specialists with the Deschutes National Forest will be prescribed burning national forest lands about 7 miles south of Sisters, near Black Pine Spring Campground.

Fuels specialists will underburn about 290 acres between Forest Service Road (FSR) 16 (Three Creeks Road)and FSR 1620. Ignitions will begin at about 9:30 a.m. each day.

Due to expected smoke impacts to FSR 16 (Three Creeks Road), people should expect some traffic delays on that roadway during ignitions. Road guards and traffic control measures will be in place.

During the operations, smoke will be visible to residents of Sisters and the surrounding area.  The closest residents to the burn will be in the Harrington Road area. Residents can expect nighttime and early morning smoke impacts following the burn.

Firefighters from Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire Department, Black Butte Ranch Fire Department, and the Oregon Department of Forestry may assist federal firefighters during the prescribed burn.

The objective of this prescribed burn is to reduce fuel loadings in ponderosa pine stands to allow future fires to burn with less intensity. This will reduce the potential impacts of a wildfire coming into the community of Sisters.

The public is encouraged to close their windows at night and if smoke is on the roadway, turn on headlights and slow down while traveling through smoky areas.

The public’s health is important to the Forest Service. While significant preventive measures are taken, many factors influence a person’s susceptibility to smoke, including severity and duration of smoke exposure and a person’s health.

If individuals feel impacted by smoke, they should avoid outdoor physical exertion and remain indoors.

If people experience serious health impacts from the smoke, they should contact their doctor. F

or more information about smoke and health, visit the Oregon Health Authority recommendations through this link:

DSCO deploy new GPS dart to stop pursuit, track down wanted Sisters man

A Sisters man was arrested on reckless driving and attempt to elude charges Sunday after Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office deputies were able to track his SUV using a new GPS dart system.

After deputies were able to track down the SUV driven by 39-year-old Justin D. Merritt, it took nearly an hour of negotiations before he ultimately got out of the car, said Sgt. Jayson Janes.

The incident started around 11:15 a.m. when a deputy driving near Hwy 20 and S. Pine Steet in Sisters saw a 2004 GMC Yukon with expired registration tags.

Janes said the deputy also knew the SUV was associated with someone who was wanted on a pending criminal charge.

▶️ Right out of the movies, DCSO tracking device aims to end suspect pursuits

The deputy tried to stop the Yukon and it immediately turned onto a dirt road and continued driving in an attempt to elude the deputy.

Janes said the deputy pursued the vehicle for a short distance until it turned back toward Sisters. The pursuit was discontinued due to safety concerns.

A deputy later saw the vehicle driving on Fryrear Rd. toward Hwy 126.

The deputy followed the Yukon from a distance, advising other deputies of their location.

Another deputy saw the SUV near Buckhorn Rd. and Hwy 126.

Janes said that deputy was able to successfully tag the vehicle with a Star Chase GPS dart. Deputies stopped following the vehicle, and began tracking it remotely.

The GPS tracker showed the vehicle was parked on BLM land off of Buckhorn Rd.

Deputies tracked down the Yukon and made contact with the driver, later identified as Merritt.

Janes said he refused to come out of the SUV and deputies negotiated with him for close to an hour before he agreed to exit the vehicle.

Merritt was arrested without incident and lodged in the Deschutes County Jail.

▶️ Sisters webcam captures golden eagle couple raising their young

For over a decade a pair of golden eagles, named Rocky and Petra, have carved out their home on a cliff outside of Sisters.

Central Oregon Daily News Photojournalist Steve Kaufmann has the story behind the lens of the golden eagle cam.

For more information on the golden eagle camera or to watch the pair raise their young, visit