Streamside Story: Cody Hess

Jim Davis   Website

Author: Joanna Zhang  |  Published: June 3, 2021  |  Category: Profiles

“While I was out there, I didn’t see a single person, didn’t hear an airplane or truck. There was just pronghorn, and solitude really. It was the best wilderness experience I’ve had.”

During summer 2015, Cody Hess took two months off from his wholesale position with Patagonia to work on restoration projects and survey wilderness study areas with Jefferson Jacobs, ONDA’s Riparian Restoration Specialist. This was Cody’s first encounter with Oregon’s high desert, and the hope that other people can have the same chance to appreciate that naturalness and solitude has led him to advocate on behalf of desert streams and the area around them today.

success

Central Oregon’s “Backyard Wilderness”

Central Oregon’s “Backyard Wilderness”

Our quest to protect the Oregon Badlands

Located just 15 miles east of Bend, Oregon Badlands is a 30,000-acre wilderness area filled with fascinating lava flows and ancient juniper trees Arriving in the Badlands, so named for its rugged and harsh terrain, can feel like stepping

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voices

Sarah Graham, Sage Sustainers Member

Sarah Graham, Sage Sustainers Member

“I contribute to ONDA monthly because it adds up to a larger annual gift than what I’d be able to comfortably afford if I were to do a simple one-time donation annually. I’m able to give more to ONDA this way and have greater impact which is important to me, and my dog Polly.”

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Young Horny Toad Lizard

Young Horny Toad Lizard

In the summer these lizards begin foraging for food as soon as their body temperature rises as the heat of the day increases. They feed on slow-moving, ground-dwelling insects. In the fall they hibernate by burying themselves in the sand.

Latin name: Phrysonoma platyrhinos

Cody Hess

Cody Hess

Over the course of that summer, Cody went on numerous overnight trips to carry out survey fieldwork. “I would go out with another intern to an area like Hampton Butte and we would use a GIS map on an iPad for navigation. As we found areas of concern, like barbed wire or a rusted out car, we’d take a photo and mark the spot on the map. We did the same for notable natural features, and brought the data back to ONDA’s GIS Specialist, Craig Miller.”  

On each day of a week-long backpacking trip around Steens Mountain, Cody’s team woke up at dawn to head out for six or seven hours of bushwhacking and surveying the area. 

“Whenever we weren’t bushwhacking,” he said, “we were relaxing by the water.” His favorite spot was a crystal clear, perfect creek running through their camp.

“There was this little creek that we would see grow as we walked west, and it ended up turning into a bigger stream that even had a beaver dam!” 

Their discovery was a great data point for Jefferson, who had been wondering how the beaver population was faring in an area that had seen extensive degradation. 

As an ONDA intern, Cody also explored Central Oregon in addition to his work in the remote eastern side of the state. An afternoon hanging out by Whychus Creek Falls stands out in his memories. 

“It’s an amazing spot. I can still remember how the falls sounded now and I haven’t been back since 2015.”

Cody Hess

Cody Hess

Now based in Corvallis, Oregon, Cody works in research administration for Oregon State University’s College of Agricultural Sciences. Although he’s on the other side of the Cascades, Cody has become a regular high desert visitor, with plans in the works to raft the Owyhee and visit the John Day River. 

“I was glad to see that the River Democracy Act will (hopefully) touch all parts of Oregon. It’ll be great to spend more wild and scenic time on waterways north, west, east, and south!”