Big Creek Planting Project October 18-21

Jim Davis   Website


Western Rattlesnake

Western Rattlesnake

Also known as the Great Basin Rattlesnake, these pit vipers have buff-tan coloring and small, oval blotches to blend into their arid surroundings. Small heat-sensing indentations on each side of the snake’s snout detects warm-blooded prey for better striking accuracy in the dark. Source: The Oregon Encyclopedia

Latin name: Crotalus oreganus lutosus


Tibetan Monks Visit Sutton Mountain

Tibetan Monks Visit Sutton Mountain


Cottonwood Canyon Riparian Soundscape

Cottonwood Canyon Riparian Soundscape

Organizer: Lisa Foster

Start Date: 10/18/2018

End Date: 10/21/2018

Region: John Day River Basin

Difficulty Rating: 2 out of 5

Maximum Group Size: 15 participants

About the place

ONDA has been involved with legal action supporting fish habitat in Malheur National Forest for over a decade, and we are now pleased to be entering a new cooperative phase with the National Forest where we are now in the third year of helping to implement a variety of ambitious, multi-year projects restoring key fish habitat on headwater streams.

Big Creek is a tributary of the Middle Fork of the John Day River.  The Creek provides critical habitat for steelhead. Currently the stream has eroded banks, a straightened channel, little to no woody riparian vegetation, and is not connected with its floodplain.  This will be our first year helping on this creek.  This is a big exciting project aimed to restore the historic channel and remove old mining ponds nearby. In addition, large woody debris will be added; Beaver Dam Analogues (BDAs) will be installed and extensive riparian planting will be conducted.  ONDA volunteers will be responsible for replanting many of the riparian trees, shrubs and sedges that were removed during this restoration project.

If all goes according to plan, over time the project area will become a shaded stream with cool water that will encourage native fish species and discourage non-native fish species.  Woody species will be plentiful enough to provide a useful source of browse for deer, elk and beaver.

About the stewardship work

Volunteers will work with ONDA and Malheur National Forest staff to conduct two days of riparian planting along Big Creek, planting a variety of species. Many of the plants were removed before the restoration work took place and we will be replanting them in a similar location.

We typically head to the work site at 8 a.m. and stop work by 4 p.m. in order to leave time in the afternoon to clean-up, relax, and cook a well-deserved dinner. No previous planting experience is needed to attend this trip. ONDA and Forest Service staff will provide all instruction and necessary tools to do the job. All that is required is a love of the high desert, a big smile, and a willingness to learn.

Trip timeline

  • Thursday, October 18th (5-7 p.m.): Volunteers should plan to arrive in the evening with enough time to set up, meet others at camp, and spend some time talking about the weekend ahead.
  • Friday, October 19th: Our first of two work days. We will meet with Forest Service staff at 8 a.m. After a brief safety talk and a discussion of the restoration efforts, we will begin planting. Plan to be away from camp from about 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Saturday, October 20th: Our second day of work planting along Big Creek. Plan to be away from camp from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Sunday, October 21st: Our relaxation day. After breakfast and coffee, volunteers can pack up and head home.


We will be car camping at a primitive campsite near our project area along Big Creek. There will be plenty of space to spread out and lots of trees for shade. ONDA will bring extra group camping supplies such as tables, chairs, a porta-potty, and wash bins for dishes. We will also have extra potable water, but recommend each participant brings some as well. Since camp is at the vehicles you will be able to have all the amenities you can fit in your car.  Further details describing camp and driving directions will be provided to participants in the information e-mail three weeks before the trip.


Level 2

Participants will be bending down, carrying plants and dirt, as well as digging holes into rocky soils. Everyone can find a task that works best for them and work at a comfortable pace with frequent breaks.

Participant responsibilities

Participants are responsible for their own food, camping gear as well as transportation to and from the trip. Sturdy off-trail ankle-high boots are required for this trip. Waders and/or rain boots are not required but can be nice for working in and near the creek. Volunteers should be prepared to be away from camp all day each of the work days. A more complete packing list will be sent out three weeks before the trip starts.

Gear provided

ONDA will provide tools for the work, work gloves, and sunscreen. We will bring some group camping equipment (shade tent, tables for cooking, wash bins for kitchen cleanup, a privy), some potable water, expert leadership, and we can talk about some of the important restoration projects within the John Day River basin.


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

 Apply Now

You only need to fill this form out once per year and can join additional trips this year by e-mailing the trip leader directly. You will receive a confirmation e-mail within 10 working days of submitting your form. The confirmation e-mail will provide information regarding which trips you are on the “participant list” for, and which trips are full, and therefore you have been placed on the “wait list.”

Six weeks before the start of the trip, the trip leader will send out an RSVP to make sure everyone is still able to participate. Based on RSVPs, open spaces will be backfilled with people from the waitlist.

Three weeks before the trip start date, registered and confirmed participants will receive driving instructions, maps, car-pooling options, and additional information in an email sent by the trip leader

If you have any questions in the meantime, please don’t hesitate to contact the trip leader.