Bridge Creek Cottonwood Planting and Caging April 3-6

John Burkhardt


Stewardship Pronghorn Fence

Stewardship Pronghorn Fence




Bitteroot blooms on north-facing cliffs in western North America.

The Paiute name for bitteroot is kangedya. Traditional Native American uses of the plant included eating the roots, mixed with berries and meat, and using the roots to treat sore throats.



Terry Butler, 2018 Volunteer of the Year

Terry Butler, 2018 Volunteer of the Year

“If I have to pick a favorite place in Oregon’s high desert, it would be Sutton Mountain, but I’m excited about all of the Wilderness Study Areas,” says Terry, adding, “Each is a gem to explore, and I hope they all get protection someday… I love the scale of the physical beauty of the desert.”

Organizer: Michael O’Casey

Start Date: 4/3/2018

End Date: 4/6/2018

Region: John Day River Basin

Difficulty Rating: 1 out of 5

Maximum Group Size: 12 participants

About the place

Bridge Creek starts in the Ochoco Mountains and then flows through the town of Mitchell before entering a valley between Sutton Mountain and Pat’s Cabin Wilderness Study Areas.  It also passes the Painted Hills Unit of the John Day Fossil Beds before joining the John Day River and is a major spawning area for Mid-Columbia River steelhead. The creek is the focus of a collaborative restoration program involving the National Park Service (NPS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Bureau of Land Management and local landowners.  The restoration program includes planting, steelhead population monitoring, and the installation of in-stream post structures to provide support for beaver dam construction. Planting native vegetation along Bridge Creek serves multiple purposes: it provides bank stability to reduce erosion, shades the creek to maintain cooler temperatures critical for native fish, and provides building materials and anchor-points for beaver dams which are critical to the efforts of decreasing long-term erosion, absorbing flood energy and helping return the creek to a more natural channel.

About the stewardship work

Our work for the week will be to help the BLM plant cottonwoods in holes that will be drilled by an excavator and cage the newly planted trees with a plastic wrapping which will prevent deer, elk and beaver browse and help make sure they can survive to maturity. In the evenings there will be plenty of opportunities to enjoy hiking in the nearby Painted Hills.

Trip timeline

  • Tuesday, April 3, 5-7 p.m.: Arrive at camp in the evening with enough time to set up camp, meet other volunteers, and learn more about the work ahead.
  • Wednesday, April 4: Meet with BLM staff and spend the day along the creek planting and caging cottonwoods.
  • Thursday, April 5: Another work day planting and caging young cottonwoods along the banks of the creek.
  • Friday, April 6: We will enjoy the spring morning over coffee before getting camp packed up and driving back to Bend. For those interested in a staying for a hike, we can explore a hike up to the top of Sutton Mountain.


This trip will involve car camping along Bridge Creek just a few miles from our work site. We will be camping near an old homestead in a grove of locust trees. There are trees for shade and plenty of space to pitch a tent. Participants need to have a tent capable of handling cold temperatures, rain, and wind… or the ability to sleep comfortably in their own vehicles.


Level 1

Volunteers will be kneeling and bending frequently to plant and cage trees. We will be hiking off trail on mostly level terrain near the river. Everyone can work at their own pace and switch tasks frequently.

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 or rain/mud boots are not necessary but can be nice to have for early spring planting trips if you have them. Participants 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), potable water, expert leadership, and we’ll spend time talking about restoration and conservation efforts taking place 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.