Our Commitment to
Justice, Equity and Inclusion

Lloyd Irwin

At Oregon Natural Desert Association, we are creating a more inclusive conservation community by actively welcoming, engaging and collaborating with people of all backgrounds, perspectives, races, genders and ethnicities to develop and pursue a shared conservation vision for Oregon’s high desert.

We are committed because we believe that our community is stronger together and that everyone deserves the opportunity to fully participate in the conservation, management and stewardship of America’s public lands.

Acknowledging Past and Present Injustice

People have inhabited Oregon for millennia, and the public lands in the high desert where we live, work and recreate today remain the home of many Indigenous people with deep cultural, religious and spiritual connections to Oregon’s desert While some lands were ceded to the United States by treaties signed with Tribes, much of today’s public land in central and eastern Oregon was taken from Indigenous people by force, confiscation or coercion.

In addition, there is a long history of systemic, persistent injustices in Oregon and the United States preventing people from fully and effectively engaging in public lands conservation, management, preservation, stewardship, recreation and advocacy.  Early preservationists often held paternalistic and racist views that can still influence conservation work today, resulting in exclusion and alienation of important voices in public lands management.

Our Aspirations

Diverse experiences, skills, relationships, perspectives and approaches to implementing ONDA’s conservation mission will help ONDA remain a strong, effective organization, able to successfully achieve our organization’s vision and mission. We carry the responsibility to affect societal change by actively working to forge a more just path forward for conservation in Oregon’s high desert by continually deepening our commitment to justice, equity and inclusion through concrete actions.

In pursuit of our mission to protect, defend and restore Oregon’s high desert, we will:

  • Acknowledge that protecting the environment is inextricably bound to social and racial justice issues.
  • Listen to, learn from and engage with a diverse array of voices about the conservation of our public lands
  • Work to elevate underrepresented voices in conservation, promote equal access and facilitate inclusive involvement for everyone who seeks to be involved in Oregon’s high desert public lands conservation
  • Become a positive force for justice, equity and inclusion within the conservation community and beyond

The conservation needs in Oregon’s high desert are immense, and we are proud to welcome, engage and collaborate with anyone who shares a desire to protect, defend and restore Oregon’s desert. We welcome your participation and invite you to contact us if you would like to learn more about our programs and initiatives.

Land Acknowledgement

As part of this commitment we believe it is important to acknowledge and recognize that Oregon’s high desert lands have been and continue to be homelands for numerous Tribal and Indigenous communities.

Oregon’s high desert is the homeland of a diversity of Indigenous people, including the Northern Paiute, Shoshone, Bannock, Wasco, Warm Springs, Yahooskin, Cayuse, Walla Walla and Umatilla peoples organized within several Tribes. These include the Burns Paiute Tribe, Fort McDermitt Paiute and Shoshone Tribes, Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation, Shoshone-Paiute Tribes of the Duck Valley Indian Reservation, the Klamath Tribes, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation and others.

ONDA is committed to collaborating with these communities and eager to continue learning more about how our conservation mission can complement Tribal and Indigenous conservation goals.



Durlin Hicock, Alice Elshoff Award winner

Durlin Hicock, Alice Elshoff Award winner

“Protecting public land is part of my spiritual being. It’s central to my identity to be in wilderness and to see it protected.” Durlin is proud to protect public lands for future generations, saying, “The highlight of my childhood was our family’s weekend outdoor trips. I look forward to my grandchildren having similar experiences outside in their lifetimes, and it wouldn’t be possible without ONDA.”




Badgers are generally nocturnal, but, in remote areas with no human encroachment, they are routinely observed foraging during the day. They prefer open areas with grasslands, which can include parklands, farms, and treeless areas with crumbly soil and a supply of rodent prey.

Badgers are born blind, furred, and helpless. Their eyes open at four to six weeks.

Latin name: Taxidea taxus


Helen Harbin, ONDA Board Member

Helen Harbin, ONDA Board Member

“I connect with Oregon’s high desert through my feet, my eyes, my sense of smell, and all the things I hear. Getting out there is a whole body experience.” Supporting ONDA, Helen says, not only connects her with wild landscapes, but is also a good investment. “I felt like if I gave them $20, they might squeeze $23 out of it.”