Where We Work
Oregon is a Desert State
Typically when people think of Oregon, they think of old growth forests and wild untamed coastal beauty. However, about 45 percent of Oregon is high desert (there are approximately 28 million acres of arid lands in our 62 million-acre state). These desert wild lands, incredibly stunning in their own right, are largely unknown even to many Oregonians.
The relative anonymity of Oregon’s desert is one reason that we have permanently protected less than one percent of our state’s desert lands. Oregon Natural Desert Association exists to put Oregon’s deserts on the map. We remain the only group dedicated exclusively to protecting and restoring Oregon’s high desert, and now boast over 4,000 members and supporters. In the coming years, we will need to connect thousands more people to Oregon’s deserts if we want these wild lands to remain intact for future generations of Oregonians.
ONDA is working to ensure that Wilderness is growing in Oregon by actively promoting wilderness campaigns across eastern Oregon. Current initiatives include a focus in the John Day River region, including the proposed wilderness areas totaling nearly 18,000 acres. ONDA is also crafting wilderness proposals encompassing 100,000 additional acres in nearby areas, including Sutton Mountain.
The Central Oregon Wilderness effort is building the local support for two wilderness proposals to protect over 150,000 acres of high desert near the town of Bend.
At over 2 million acres and located in the far southeast corner of the state, Oregon’s region is the largest expanse of undeveloped and unprotected wildlands in the lower 48 states. This area represents an incredible opportunity for American conservation.
Collectively, these lands are emblematic of Oregon’s pristine beauty and essential to the survival of native fish and wildlife. All told, the permanent protection of these lands would double the amount of wilderness in the State of Oregon and serve as a permanent reminder to Oregonians that we live in a Desert State.