1987: A hodgepodge group of folks, including teachers, housewives, doctors, students, naturalists and retirees, came together over their shared love of Oregon’s deserts. They were driven to action by their conviction that the government’s recent inventory of wild desert lands had missed a huge chunk of the places that they knew and loved. Sure enough, citizen wilderness inventories confirmed that there are nearly 8 million acres of wilderness-quality land in Eastern Oregon. Out of that revelation and the conviction of a small group of desert-lovers, ONDA was born.
1994: In response to pressure from ONDA, the US Fish and Wildlife Service removes livestock grazing from the Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge. Since this historic victory, ONDA volunteers have gathered annually at Hart Mountain to remove miles of obsolete barbed wire fences from the refuge. Sensitive populations of pronghorn antelope and sage grouse are now thriving at Hart Mountain.
1998: ONDA wins a lawsuit to remove livestock grazing from the Wild and Scenic Owyhee River corridor. Thousands of rafters each year now enjoy a thriving river ecosystem rich with willows and redband trout.
2000: ONDA leads a historic collaborative effort to protect Steens Mountain Wilderness, Oregon’s first desert wilderness area.
2009: Oregon Badlands Wilderness and Spring Basin Wilderness are protected after a grassroots campaign that engaged thousands of members of the Central Oregon community and earned the support of some of Central Oregon’s top employers, such as Mt. Bachelor and Deschutes Brewery.