sand mountain society

Don Allen Jr.


Don Allen Jr. was practically born onto Sand Mountain. His parents staffed the old fire lookout there during the summers of 1965-67 while they were students at University of Oregon.  As a young boy and adolescent, Don Jr. would often plead with his parents to take him back to Sand Mountain, and they patiently obliged as often as they could.  It was on such a trip in 1974 that Don Jr. first witnessed dirt bikes tearing-up soils and plants as they climbed the steep crater walls and open cinder slopes of Sand Mountain, spraying volumes of soil down hill as tires churned.  At age eleven, Don Jr. spent the rest of that weekend on his hands and knees carefully pushing the displaced soil back into place as best he could. He knew that others would follow off-road if they saw the tracks. "People have a tendency to justify bad behavior by saying 'lots of folks have been doing this or that.'"

Upon returning home from that outing, Don Jr. wrote his first letter the the District Ranger, describing what he had seen, the effects upon the land, and the predictable long-term adverse effects that could be anticipated. This was the first step in a lifetime of activism dedicated to rehabilitating and protecting the fragile resouces of the Sand Mountain Volcanic Alignment. 

Don credits Forest Service officials for helping him see that education is the key to gaining widespread public support.  "It helps if people know what makes a place special.  When the specialness rings true -- as it invariably does at Sand Mountain -- folks can reconsider their potential effects on the land.  I use recycling as an example of a change in awareness that can be broadly adopted because the concept 'rings true.'  For example, almost no one was recycling at home until the 1970s: tin cans and paper were automatically going out in the trash.  Today this seems inconceivable to us!  Our goal in the SMS is to raise awareness of Sand Mountain's historic significance, scenic beauty, and geologic interest so that future generations will have the opportunity to enjoy these same things."

Don Jr. has a BA in Liberal Studies from Oregon State University and is the President of an electronics engineering and manufacturing firm in Portland, Oregon, where he’s worked since 1993.  He served on the Sabin Community Association Board of Directors from 1994-96.  He currently also serves of the Board of Directors for the Friends of Fish Lake.  During his Forest Service career, Don Jr. was listed as a Regional resource to consult on the restoration of historic fire lookouts.  He appeared with is late friend Ron Johnson (to whom the Gold Butte Lookout restoration was dedicated) in an episode of Oregon Field Guide, and has given numerous presentations at related conferences, workshops, and classes at the University of Oregon School of Architecture (Historic Preservation Program).  Don has participated in several (and jointly led) two USFS Passports in Time projects focused on fire lookout restoration, and he was honored to receive the Doug Newman Award (named for his dear, late friend) from the Forest Fire Lookout Association in 2004 for his lifetime of work at Sand Mountain and fire lookouts elsewhere

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