When we reached Scott to let him know that we wanted to acknowledge him as ONDA’s 2020 Conservationist of the Year, he was out on a hike along Whychus Creek. It was a fitting place for him to accept this honor, out among the ponderosa pines, as this is an area ONDA advocates for and stewards. This is also a trail Scott hikes monthly to observe seasonal changes, which he then reports back to us.
During the unusual year that 2020 was, Scott Bowler contributed to ONDA’s conservation efforts in a wide variety of ways that really stood out.
Scott enthusiastically ventured into the field to photograph and document proposed Wild and Scenic River segments in the West Steens that supported the nomination of desert waterways for permanent protection and followed that up with an detailed and impassioned letter to Senator Wyden. (For 2021, Scott has resolved to send one thank you letter to elected officials each week, as he knows that gratitude goes a long way with representatives who generally hear complaints.)
In 2020, ONDA also benefited greatly from Scott’s extensive experience in Oregon’s high desert, his ecological knowledge and background as an educator. He wrote a series of informative and inspirational naturalist essays for ONDA’s blog, covering native plant identification, seasonal round ups, and wildlife watching tips and a set of phenology notes for the Wild Desert Calendar. He replied to numerous “do you know what this species is?” plant identification questions from various staff. All of this served to deepen our community’s understanding of seasonal cycles of desert life.
Scott is also one of the 500+ people who contribute to ONDA on a monthly basis.
And, when we put out the call for a reliable field vehicle, Scott generously donated a Toyota Rav4, with one condition: that we keep the custom license plate “Rtemis”— which is a reference to the Latin name for sagebrush. Rtemis is most at home on Oregon’s desert backroads, and we’ve put her to good use as a member of ONDA’s fleet.
We also know that Scott’s contributions to the desert extend beyond ONDA. A longtime advocate for desert conservation, Scott also serves as a board member for the Malheur Field Station and monitors sage grouse as an adopt-a-lek volunteer for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
We’re grateful for all of Scott’s contributions in 2020 and are inspired by his knowledge of the desert and willingness to inspire others.