Essential

Kevin Clark

Oregon’s high desert is an arid landscape, defined by the scarcity of water, but that does not mean that this vast landscape is without water. It means that every stream, creek, spring and river matters.

In the face of biodiversity loss and climate change, public lands and waters in eastern Oregon’s sagebrush sea offer a chance to stem the tide. Conserving these natural areas would ensure a future for fish and wildlife, preserve connected, resilient landscapes, safeguard the region’s rich cultural and historic resources, and provide recreational opportunities for generations to come.

This short documentary takes you to to Lake Abert, the John Day River Basin and the Owyhee Canyonlands and highlights how Oregon Natural Desert Association is preserving the desert’s most precious resource.

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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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Stewardship Pronghorn Fence

Stewardship Pronghorn Fence

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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.”


ESSENTIAL was made possible thanks to the generous donations of several talented creative professionals.

The video footage was provided courtesy of Kevin Clark, Brian J. Clark Productions, Think Wild, James Parsons at Extreme Oregon, and Fine Grain Pictures.

Ben Finley composed the original score. Lauren Gombas created the animations.

Additionally, several members of the ONDA staff contributed to create this piece, with production management by Corinne Handelman, voiceover narration by Hana Sant, editing by Barksdale Brown and direction by Lace Thornberg.