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A Journey Through the Owyhee Canyonlands
February 8 @ 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm
Oregon’s Owyhee Canyonlands is one of the largest conservation opportunities in the country. Join Oregon Natural Desert Association Board Members, Elisa Cheng and Natasha Bellis, at a 2024 High Desert Speaker Series event as they reflect on their spring rafting trip down the Owyhee River on an exploration of this incomparable region. They’ll discuss the Owyhee’s awe-inspiring natural landscapes, rich culture and history, key wildlife habitats and many recreation opportunities. Karly Foster, ONDA’s Campaign Manager, will share conservation advocacy initiatives you can support to counter threats to the region and ensure that the Owyhee is protected.
About the Presenters
Elisa Cheng grew up in California and Hawaii. She launched her web design career in 2002 spending a few years at an eCommerce company before realizing that her passion was in helping non-profits. From there she moved into a role helping non-profits of all sizes with their online presence. She now works as a digital consultant helping small businesses and non-profits expand their digital presence through SEO, marketing, web design, social media, and digital strategy. Elisa moved to Bend, Oregon from Honolulu, Hawaii in 2010 and loves all of the outdoor opportunities right out her door in Bend.
Growing up in Wyoming and Utah, Natasha Bellis gained an early appreciation for wild and open spaces. Cultivating a love of the desert by roaming the canyon lands of southern Utah, she was inspired to pursue a career in environmental science and has spent the past 20 years working to conserve land and water in Oregon. Natasha is currently the Conservation Director at Deschutes Land Trust where she oversees land protection transactions for the organization, Prior to that, she worked to restore streamflow to Oregon’s rivers and streams by negotiating environmental water right transactions for the Deschutes River Conservancy and The Freshwater Trust. Natasha has lived in Bend since 2015 and is excited to contribute to ONDA’s impactful work conserving Oregon’s bountiful high desert.
As ONDA’s Campaign Manager, Karly Foster develops and executes conservation campaign initiatives across millions of acres of Oregon’s high desert public lands at the local, regional and national levels and with Tribal Nations, by building relationships with diverse stakeholders and community partners to secure protection for public lands, waters and wildlife. Karly grew up in the western Willamette Valley and as a fourth-generation Pacific City, Dory-fisher, her summers were spent fishing with her family in the Pacific Ocean. She received her bachelor’s in socio-cultural anthropology and Indigenous Nations studies at Portland State University. During undergrad, she attended Tatoosh School in the Tongass National Forest, studying southeast Alaska ecology and policy of place. Karly followed the coastal winds and eventually lived on organic farms in Aotearoa (New Zealand), where her views of what conservation, natural resource management, and Indigenous rights can look like, expanded. Karly graduated from the McCall Field Campus of the University of Idaho with a master’s degree in environmental science and a certificate in environmental education and science communications in 2022. Her next stop was a research assistantship with a National Science Foundation grant in the Rocky Mountains, which reignited her love for the ponderosa pine forests and sagebrush meadows she’d grown up with while camping in Central Oregon. Karly is excited to grow with ONDA in this beautiful place, learn of all the socio-ecological intricacies of Oregon’s high desert and be a strong advocate for its eternal prosperity.
Photo: Dale Nibbe