Hart Lake Restoration and Juniper Removal Sept 27-30
About the place
Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge (NAR) was established in 1936 to protect the range and breeding grounds of Pronghorn Antelope and other wildlife species. Located in southeast Oregon in the Northern Great Basin, Hart Mountain is a wildlife mecca for over 300 species including migrating waterfowl, bighorn sheep and sage-grouse. Hart Mountain and the adjacent lands have also recently been recognized as one of six key areas important to the long term survival of sage-grouse. ONDA has worked in this region for decades to help maintain and restore healthy intact wildlife habitat.
The Warner Valley is located along the western edge of Hart Mountain. During the last ice age, Hart Lake filled this valley to a depth of up to 200 feet. The remnants of the lake remain today as a chain of smaller lakes that run for almost 40 miles. The lake levels along this valley fluctuate widely and fill from south to north depending upon precipitation. Today, this rare wetland habitat is managed by the Lakeview BLM and is an important resource for thousands of migrating birds each year.
About the stewardship work
For this trip, volunteers will be spending one day working to remove young, expanding juniper from the western foothills of Hart Mountain and one day working with the Lakeview BLM to plant riparian vegetation and pollinator plants on the northern shore of Hart Lake.
Western Juniper has been expanding throughout much of its range. The rapid increase has many land managers concerned about the health of the sagebrush-grassland habitat because juniper can displace many of the shrubs and grasses that provide forage to wildlife and at-risk species such as sage-grouse. Junipers also cause problems for many watersheds because they require large amounts of water as compared to other shrubs or grasses.
ONDA volunteers will spend Friday removing small junipers within the otherwise healthy sage-steppe habitat of Hart Mountain. The work will involve using loppers and saws to cut the junipers at the base of the tree. It can be difficult, hot, scratchy, and challenging, but it feels good to look back at the end of the day and see a landscape turned back into sagebrush and bunchgrass.
On Saturday, volunteers will meet with the Lakeview BLM and other local volunteers to plant native trees, shrubs, and flowers at the Hart Bar Interpretive Site to improve the habitat and create a site where visitors can learn more about the Warner wetlands ecology.
- Thursday, September 27, 5-7 p.m.: We will meet at the Hart Mountain Hot Springs Campground. Arrive in time to set up camp under the aspens, meet everyone, and enjoy a fall soak.
- Friday, September 28: We’ll leave the campground at 8 a.m. for a short drive down to the base of Hart Mountain. We’ll spend the day cutting small junipers, plan to be back at camp by 4 p.m.
- Saturday, September 29: National Public Lands Day! Leave camp at 8 a.m. and drive down to the Hart Bar to meet the BLM and other volunteers. Plan to work until about 2 p.m. Lunch and a celebratory cake will be provided by the BLM.
- Sunday, September 30: A much deserved morning of rest, relaxation, and coffee! After breakfast, we will pack up and head home.
We will be staying at the Hart Mountain Hot Spring Campground. The site is within an easy walk to the hot springs and is tucked into the aspens. It is primitive camping with no water, but there are vault toilets. Since we are car-camping for this trip, feel free to bring all the amenities.
Removing juniper can be hot and scratchy work, but everyone can work at their own pace and take breaks as needed. The planting work will require bending and lifting up to 20 pounds.
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. 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.
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, and expert leadership in the field. The BLM will provide all the volunteers with lunch on Saturday.
An ONDA registration application and medical form are required for this trip.
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.