Cottonwood Canyon State Park Beaver Dam Analogues Build August 23-26


Spring Basin Wilderness

Spring Basin Wilderness

Spring Basin Wilderness

With 10,000 acres of undulating terrain, secluded canyons and spectacular vantages of the John Day Country, Spring Basin is magnificent to explore This public treasure, forever protected as Wilderness, offers a profusion of desert wildflowers in the spring and year-round recreational opportunities for hikers, horseback

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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

Organizer: Jefferson Jacobs

Start Date: 8/23/2018

End Date: 8/26/2018

Region: John Day River Basin

Difficulty Rating: 2 out of 5

Maximum Group Size: 35 participants

About the place

Cottonwood Canyon State Park is Oregon’s newest state park. Formerly the Murtha Ranch, this 8,000-acre paradise exemplifies the rugged beauty of the John Day River territory with remarkable canyons, tall plateaus and sweeping sage-covered views. Cottonwood is home to bighorn sheep, Pronghorn antelope and elk, and the John Day River running through it is laden with chinook, steelhead and other species of native trout.

View the map.

About the stewardship work

ONDA volunteers will be able to help with all aspects of Beaver Dam Analogue (BDA) construction. Allowing for individual interests and abilities, there will be the opportunity to be part of the team using the hydraulic fence pounder to pound 6-inch diameter wood posts in lines across the creek-bed. Others can help cut and haul branches from onsite to use in weaving into the posts. There will also be the the placing of gravel and rocks to “seal” the structure on the upstream side. August will be the perfect time of year to splash in the water and engage your inner 12-year-old.

As always there is no experience necessary. We will teach you everything you need to know to work safely and effectively.  There is ample opportunity to work at your own pace and on aspects that work best with your physical capabilities.

Trip timeline

  • Thursday, August 23, 5 p.m.: We will meet at the Cottonwood Canyon Campground. After dinner we’ll have time to talk more in depth about the coming days’ work and its significance in the bigger picture.
  • Friday-Saturday, August 24-25: After breakfast, we’ll car-pool the 20 minutes or so to the worksite in Hay Creek. We’ll be away from camp all day, but head back around 3:30
  • Sunday, August 26: After breakfast, we will break down camp and volunteers will have the opportunity to take a hike or head home.


We will be camping in the luxurious Cottonwood Canyon State Park Campground. There is potable water onsite, bathrooms and kitchen shelters.


Level 2

While pounding the posts with the hydraulic pounder will be very hard work and noisy, there are plenty of other things that will need to be done, such as cutting and hauling brush and weaving it into the line of posts, and moving gravel or rocks.  Everyone can pace themselves, regulate their own level of effort, switch between various available tasks of varying intensities and rest as needed. 

Trip highlights and challenges

  • The pride of implementing restoration work that will dramatically improve this John Day tributary.
  • Long days of gratifying but hard work.
  • Temperatures can fluctuate widely during this time of year.

Participant responsibilities

Participants are responsible for their own food, camping gear as well as transportation to and from the trip. If you choose to work in the water, you will need footwear which will protect your feet (boots, waders, or hiking boots that you don’t mind getting soaked). Participants should be prepared to be away from camp all day each of the work days.

Gear provided

ONDA will provide tools for the work, some group camping equipment, and expert leadership. We also provide hot water at morning and evening mealtimes to help expedite meal prep, and espresso coffee in the morning.


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.