Alvord Desert Monitoring

Sean Bagshaw   Website


Nate Wilson-Traisman, member since 2019

Nate Wilson-Traisman, member since 2019

“My greatest hope is that Oregon’s desert continues to gain public lands protections, and is guarded from unsustainable development, so that future generations may benefit from all the region has to offer.

I felt inspired by trips to Oregon’s high desert, and was actively searching for ways to contribute to the protection of these wild places. ONDA stood out as a leader in this respect, and when I’ve had money to contribute, ONDA has been a clear choice.”


Cregg Large, member since 2009

Cregg Large, member since 2009

“I came to Oregon 12 years ago from Texas. Texas, for all its size, has very little public land. Coming to Oregon has made me realize the special gift we as Americans have in our public lands. Volunteering with an organization like ONDA is my way of reciprocating for this gift. Through restoration efforts, I feel we are helping leave a better place than we found it. Through advocating for protection for public lands, we safeguard migration routes for animals and keep the land where it belongs: with the public.”


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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Organizer: Stewardship Team

Project Timeline: 3/01/2022 through 11/30/2022

Region: Steens Mountain Region

Difficulty Rating: Level 1: Easy

Volunteers Needed: No limit

About the place

This project takes place on the traditional lands of the Northern Paiute people. Many Indigenous peoples live in Oregon’s high desert region today, including members of the Burns Paiute Tribe, the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs (Wasco, Warm Springs and Paiute), the Klamath Tribes (Klamath, Modoc and Yahooskin) and the Fort McDermitt Paiute and Shoshone Tribe.

The Alvord Desert Wilderness Study Area is an iconic attraction in Oregon’s high desert. The 50-mile long Steens Mountain creates a rain shadow for this 35+ square mile desert wonder, and increasingly people from all over Oregon (and the world) have discovered the joys of camping and recreating on the playa.

About the project

Through ONDA’s partnership with the Burns BLM District, we learned of unprecedented use of the Alvord Desert Wilderness Study Area (WSA) in 2020-21, largely due to the Coronavirus pandemic. BLM staff stated use of the Alvord Desert was 3-4 times what “normal” use was in previous years, and trash accumulation and impacts on the surrounding wildlife habitat reached critical levels.

Unlike most Wilderness Study Areas which do not allow vehicle use off of designated roads, the Bureau of Land Management does allow vehicular traffic (per the Alvord Desert WSA management plan), although driving on the flat is only advised during the dry season (July through November).

Through this project, volunteers will utilize a recreation impact monitoring application to visit known hotspots on the Alvord Desert to record visitor information and preform a variety of stewardship activities.


Kjell Sullivan   Website

This is a recreation impact monitoring and maintenance project

  • Included in the monitoring and maintenance project:
    1. Use the RIMS (Recreation Monitoring Impact System) app on your smart phone to identify and record information on visitor use, trail and signage conditions, campsites and fire ring locations and more.
    2. Pick up trash.
    3. Brush out vehicle (bike or car) trespass incursions (beyond the allowed motorized use area) – after documenting the impacts.
    4. Remove, disperse, and camouflage identified campsite impacts and fire rings.
    5. Monitor for negative wildlife interactions
    6. Hand out wag bags with included responsible recreation information.


This project will involved multiple volunteers during the year. The playa will ideally be visited 2-3 times each month between March and November (or when the Alvord Desert is dry), although scheduling visits throughout the year will help us and the BLM gauge use in the ever diminishing “off-season.” You are welcome to make more than one trip. We ask volunteers who sign up for this project to make at least one monitoring trip in 2022 for a minimum of four hours.


Level 1

This trip could require some moderate physical work, but because the project is self-directed you can hike/monitor as your body and time allows.


An ONDA registration application and medical form are required for this project.

Project Details

All the information you will need to know about this independent project will be emailed to you after your registration is complete. Each project page has extensive information about access, technology, tools, maps and more. Please be prepared to spend 1-2 hours reviewing this information prior to heading out on your project, the good news is that time spent reviewing and preparing for your trip all counts towards your volunteer hours.

 Apply Now