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Lake County ranchers recognized for wildlife stewardship

2014 Tag Winner

Don and Diana Robinson
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December 10, 2014

SALEM, Ore.—Lake County ranchers Don and Diana Robinson were awarded this year’s Riley Freeman Award at the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association (OCA) meeting in Bend on Dec. 6.

“The Robinsons are actively involved in protecting and enhancing habitat for fish and wildlife on their land,” said ODFW Interim Director Curt Melcher when presenting the award in Bend.

The award is given annually by ODFW and OCA in memory of Riley Freeman, a past chairman of the Oregon Cattlemen’s Wildlife Committee. While defending private property rights, Freeman also advocated for partnerships between private landowners and state and federal natural resource agencies to promote good land stewardship. 

The Robinsons raise cattle on 3,000 acres near Adel, where Don’s family has ranched since the 1890s. Examples of the Robinsons promoting stewardship of fish and wildlife habitat on their property include:

  • Worked with ODFW to assess the distribution, abundance, and movements of the federally threatened Warner sucker in Twentymile Creek.
  • Worked with Lake County Watershed Council, BLM, and ODFW to replace an aging and ineffective fish ladder, and provide fish screening at the Dike Diversion so that sucker and redband trout upstream and downstream access to upper Twentymile and Twelvemile Creeks is restored.
  • Allowed ODFW Native Fish Project access to their property to assess the abundance, distribution, and seasonal movements of fish and install antennas on an irrigation canal to assess the timing and magnitude of fish movement.
  • Helped salvage redband trout that got stranded behind their Big Valley ranch head gate. Also worked with ODFW fish biologists and with the Lake County Watershed Council to improve fish passage here to prevent the need for fish salvage in the future.
  • Improved fish passage on another tributary on their property in collaboration with the U.S. Forest Service.
  • Restored habitat for mule deer and other wildlife on their property through a 50-acre aspen stand enhancement project in Big Valley (2010-2011) and a 100-acre juniper removal project with the Lake County Watershed Council (2009). 

“The Robinsons are exceptional people whose legacy will include a long list of actions to protect and restore fish and wildlife habitat on their lands,” said ODFW Native Fish Research Biologist Paul Scheerer. “They are truly a pleasure to work with.”


Michelle Dennehy
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
(503) 947-6022

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