Passionate desert advocate
Since moving to Oregon in 2016, Felice Kelly discovered Oregon’s dry side and was immediately inspired, saying, “Once I made it out to the high desert, I knew that I wanted to play a part in the conservation of the landscape.” She savors the moments after crossing the Cascade Mountains from Portland to spend time taking in “the openness, the views, and the stars on winter nights. It’s so beautiful, and it always feels like the start of an exploration.”
Drawing upon this inspiration, Felice is still learning more about hidden gems across Oregon’s high desert. As an avid runner, she has found many great trails in the desert, particularly in Steens Mountain Wilderness and the Fremont National Forest. Beyond finding solitude on the trail, both of these places are along the Oregon Desert Trail, leaving space for new discovery. Finding wild places through her running has inspired Felice to advocate for the conservation of these landscapes she has fallen in love with.
Felice’s advocacy has now taken many forms—from hosting a house party to invite friends to submit postcards in support of desert conservation to writing a letter to the editor that was published in the New York Times! She understands that advocacy without a response can lead to burn-out, but remains optimistic, saying, “Sometimes it feels like shouting into the void, but it’s really important to communicate your values to the people that represent you, and if those people don’t listen then start trying to vote in different elected officials.”
To make desert advocacy easier, Felice suggests, “put your elected officials in your contacts list on your phone, and when you hear about something that is happening that you want them to support or oppose, just call their office and tell them”, and added, “decision-makers do notice when citizens speak up for public lands and wildlife.”
Her biggest goal for Oregon’s high desert? Felice would love to see sage grouse populations rebound. And that’s why she’s a proud ONDA member, stating, “It’s great to feel like I can support the boots on the ground conservation and restoration, and be personally involved as well.”