“I knew the forests of Central Oregon really well, but the desert was all new to me. The colors of the landscape and the views … just wow.” –ONDA member Gary Evans
Meet Gary Evans, ONDA’s 2019 Conservationist of the Year
Like many of us, Gary Evans found out about ONDA through a friend. And, again like many of us, that introduction to the desert soon translated into a determination to steward this special place. What set him apart and made him our choice for 2019 Conservationist of the Year* was his enthusiasm and his sheer volume of participation.
In his first year as an ONDA volunteer and member, Gary advocated for public lands, made a significant membership contribution and took part in 10 multi-day stewardship trips.
“After working with Gary on my first trip of the season, I was very glad to see him on the roster for my second trip, and then my third trip, and then my fourth,” said Riparian Restoration Coordinator Jefferson Jacobs, adding, “His commitment and hard work have had a significant impact on the many projects he has been involved in and we all appreciate that.”
What is it about the desert that inspired him to be so generous with his time, voice and financial backing? Gary said, “I have seen how our national resources have been destroyed. With government cutbacks, the public needs to help out even more.”
As Gary noted, “All the people I meet working with ONDA have been interesting in their own way, with their different backgrounds.” And, in that regard, Gary is no different, as he has his own interesting background and life experience. A member of the Cree Indian Nation, he grew up in Yakima, Washington, where he worked on his dad’s apple and pear ranch as a teen, before joining the Army. After his service, Gary worked in Pacific Northwest sawmills for 30 years and, then in Texas, as a diesel technician for the last 10 years. Recently retired, Gary now lives in Madras. When he’s not deep in the Pacific Northwest backcountry, that is.