Our Commitment to
Justice, Equity and Inclusion

Lloyd Irwin

Oregon Natural Desert Association is pursuing equity in environmental conservation because everyone deserves clean air, clean water and access to open, wild spaces.

America’s public lands and waters can contribute to all of these essential basic needs when all people have equal access to them, when all feel welcome in them, and when they are protected for the benefit of all. Building an inclusive community in which everyone is empowered to share their diverse perspectives will prompt the most creative solutions to current and emerging threats to Oregon’s deserts and is the best way to protect everyone’s right to a healthy environment.

Acknowledging Past and Present Injustice

The United States is burdened by a history of systemic discrimination and the unjust treatment of many communities, and inequities persist today.

People have inhabited Oregon for millennia, and the lands we live, work and recreate on today remain the home of people with deep, permanent connections to Oregon’s deserts. While some lands were ceded to the United States by Tribes, much of today’s public land was taken by force, confiscation or coercion from Indigenous peoples.

Early preservationists often held paternalistic and racist views that continue to influence conservation work today.

In short, many forms of discrimination have worked to exclude people from using and enjoying public lands and other natural resources, and from having a say as to why and how we conserve our shared environment.

As conservationists, and as human beings, we at Oregon Natural Desert Association carry the responsibility to affect societal change by actively working to set things right. We seek to forge a more just path forward for conservation in Oregon’s high desert.

Our Aspirations

In order to contribute to a more just society and help to tear down systemic injustice, Oregon Natural Desert Association will continually seek ways to deepen our commitment to justice, equity and inclusion through concrete actions. We will:

  • Acknowledge that protecting the environment is inextricably bound up with social and racial justice issues.
  • Listen to a diverse array of voices about the conservation of our public lands
  • Work to elevate underrepresented voices so that their perspectives are heard by more people.
  • Work for equal access and inclusive involvement for everyone who cherishes Oregon’s high desert.
  • Become a positive force for justice, equity and inclusion within the conservation community and beyond.

We are excited to see how engaging a broader array of people and perspectives will enrich our work to protect, defend and restore Oregon’s deserts, and we invite you to get in touch with us if you would like to be involved in justice initiatives.


What defines Oregon’s high desert?

What defines Oregon’s high desert?

Bounded by the Cascade Mountains to the west and the Blue Mountains to the north, Oregon’s high desert covers approximately 24,000 square miles. Annual rainfall in the high desert varies from 5 to 14 inches. The average elevation is 4,000 feet; at 9,733 feet, the summit of Steens Mountain is the highest point in Oregon’s high desert. The terrain of the high desert was mostly formed by a series of lava flows that occurred between 30 and 10 million years ago.

Sources: The Oregon Encyclopedia; Wikipedia  


Stewardship Fence Building Timelapse

Stewardship Fence Building Timelapse


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.”