2022 In Review

Daniel Arnold

Oregon’s high desert is an exceptional landscape, and the people who love it and protect it are feisty, passionate, and deeply committed to conservation.

The high desert is also a fragile landscape. With a warming climate and many other pressures bearing down, ONDA’s members, supporters and volunteers are even more driven to preserve Oregon’s last best wild places.

Prepare to be impressed by what this desert community accomplished in 2022.


Tim Neville, journalist

Tim Neville, journalist

“Oregon’s Owyhee reminds me a lot of Southern Utah’s red rock country… only dipped in fudge.”


What defines Oregon’s high desert?

What defines Oregon’s high desert?

Bounded by the Cascade Mountains to the west and the Blue Mountains to the north, Oregon’s high desert covers approximately 24,000 square miles. Annual rainfall in the high desert varies from 5 to 14 inches. The average elevation is 4,000 feet; at 9,733 feet, the summit of Steens Mountain is the highest point in Oregon’s high desert. The terrain of the high desert was mostly formed by a series of lava flows that occurred between 30 and 10 million years ago.

Sources: The Oregon Encyclopedia; Wikipedia  


Western Meadowlark Dawn Chorus

Western Meadowlark Dawn Chorus

Protecting Lands & Waters for Tomorrow

Owyhee Canyonlands

Dale Nibbe

Lower John Day River from Sutton Mountain

Chewaucan River

Priming more than a million acres and hundreds of river miles for lasting protection

ONDA kept not just one, but three strong land and water protection campaigns ready for Congressional action.

Thanks to your abiding advocacy, here’s how well-protected the high desert soon will be:

Creating Healthier Desert Habitat

Restoring Ruby Creek in the John Day River Basin

Repairing a Beaver Dam Analog in the Malheur National Forest

Renee Patrick

Fence-building near the South Fork Crooked River

Retrofitting Fences on Beatys Butte

Improving watersheds and preserving connectivity

Can you hear the meadowlarks singing alongside a babbling brook? Can you picture pronghorn migrating safely between wildlife refuges?

In 2022, ONDA led 30 stewardship trips and 20 independent projects across the high desert to complete restoration work that is adding up — acre by acre, mile by mile, tree by tree — to a healthy, thriving desert.

Highlights from these restoration projects include:  

  • Planting a grand total of 8,300 trees and shrubs to improve habitat resiliency in the Crooked River, John Day River, and Malheur River watersheds
  • Coordinating five weeks of field work that introduced Indigenous young adults to natural resources and conservation careers.
  • Constructing one full mile of exclosure fence to protect sensitive habitat on the South Fork Crooked River.
  • Retrofitting four miles of fence to wildlife-friendly standards, to reconnect the pronghorn migration corridor between the Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge and the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge.

Bringing Your Values to Public Lands

Steens Mountain


Devlin Holloway

Lake Abert

Allen Tyler

Ensuring a Science-Based Approach to Management

Since ONDA’s earliest days, we’ve been dedicated to ensuring that land management agencies fully and faithfully follow their mandates to manage public lands for the benefit of all.

In 2022, ONDA brought your conservation values forward in many ways, including:

  • Preserving the character of Steens Mountain. ONDA made a formal request to the Secretary of the Interior to preserve the quiet, solitude, and premier wilderness habitat on more than one million acres and submitted a comprehensive report to the Bureau of Land Management to encourage them to limit road expansion.
  • Advocating for greater sage-grouse. ONDA weighed in on a major federal planning process, outlining the seven essential steps that need to be taken to save this bird and the hundreds of other species that depend on the sagebrush steppe ecosystem.
  • Speaking up for a vanishing saline lake. ONDA catalyzed new opportunities for improved water management in the Chewaucan River to help address the long-standing problems at Lake Abert, which provides essential habitat for hundreds of thousands of migratory birds as they travel the Pacific Flyway.

All of This Success Depends on an Exceptional Community

With so many ways to participate in caring for this landscape, ONDA delights in putting people’s interests, talents and skills to good use for the desert.

Here’s how you are showing up to care for Oregon’s desert:

  • 75 new monthly donors, bringing us up to a total of 700 monthly donors
  • 258 volunteers who contributed more than 9,000 hours of incredible volunteer service
  • 466 new members, joining our community of more than 5,800 ONDA members
  • 2,300+ people attending ONDA-hosted events to learn about desert topics
  • 2,500+ people taking part in desert advocacy, sending more than 4,000 messages to decision-makers to spur them to action.

Thank you for your passion for desert conservation! You can donate today to keep the momentum going strong into 2023.