Your Next Autumn Activity:

Rick Samco

As golden aspen leaves and frosty mornings mark the arrival of fall in Oregon’s high desert, welcomed rains are bringing fire danger down and allowing volunteers to resume work on needed monitoring and restoration projects throughout desert public lands.

If you’re craving an adventure to experience the beauty of Oregon’s high desert in the fall, sign up for an Independent Stewards project to get out and do good before the snow flies.

With projects delayed over the summer due to fires, smoke and heat, we are actively seeking volunteers for the projects listed below, and many others.


Great Horned Owls and Western Screech Owls

Great Horned Owls and Western Screech Owls




The Oregon Swallowtail butterfly is the official state insect of Oregon and a true native of the Pacific Northwest. The Swallowtail can be seen in the lower sagebrush canyons of the Columbia River and its tributaries, including the Snake River drainage area.  Source: State Symbols USA

Latin name: Papilio oregonius


South Fork Crooked River and Birds

South Fork Crooked River and Birds

California bighorn sheep

Wildlife Monitoring Opportunity

For this effort, independent stewards will collect important data about 72 different strategically chosen species throughout the northern Basin and Range ecosystem, to fill a gap in observations in this important region east of the Cascade Mountains.

Fremont National Recreation Trail

ONDA launched an “adopt-a-mile” effort covering 38 miles where the Oregon Desert Trail and Fremont National Recreation Trail overlap. A few volunteers were able to start their work in the short window between snow melt and the start of the heartbreaking Bootleg Fire in the Fremont-Winema National Forest in early July. Now that the forest has reopened to the public, ONDA is eager to get volunteers back out to this section of trail to perform much needed maintenance work.

Steens Mountain Wilderness Trails

Fall is a spectacular time to visit Steens Mountain, where ONDA is also inviting volunteers to “adopt-a-mile” of trail to monitor and maintain. In addition to performing light trail-work, volunteers are using a new Recreation Impact Monitoring System application developed in partnership with Bureau of Land Management staff to catalog and inventory habitat or recreation management needs Recreation planners can access the data that volunteers collect in real-time and adjust maintenance plans accordingly.

Alvord Desert

This iconic Wilderness Study Area in the rain-shadow of Steens Mountain saw unprecedented use in 2020, largely due to the Coronavirus pandemic, and the trash accumulation and impacts on the surrounding landscape reached critical levels. ONDA’s independent stewards are documenting impacts using the Recreation Impact Monitoring System application and dispersing fire rings, picking up trash, monitoring for negative wildlife interactions, and handing out wag bags and responsible recreation information.

We welcome you to join us on any of the above projects. If you have already filled out our volunteer interest form this year, please email with the project you are interested in. If you have not yet filled out our volunteer interest form, apply now and, in the project preference field, type in “Alvord, “Steens” “Fremont” or “wildlife monitoring.”

Volunteer today!