Malheur River Planting Project

Celia Bell


Jeremy Fox on Steens Landscape

Jeremy Fox on Steens Landscape


Nate Wilson-Traisman, member since 2019

Nate Wilson-Traisman, member since 2019

“My greatest hope is that Oregon’s desert continues to gain public lands protections, and is guarded from unsustainable development, so that future generations may benefit from all the region has to offer.

I felt inspired by trips to Oregon’s high desert, and was actively searching for ways to contribute to the protection of these wild places. ONDA stood out as a leader in this respect, and when I’ve had money to contribute, ONDA has been a clear choice.”


Connecting Trails

Connecting Trails

The Oregon Desert Trail ties into two National Recreation Trails: the Fremont National Recreation Trail and Desert Trail.

Organizer: Gena Goodman-Campbell

Dates: October 22-25, 2023

Region: Malheur River Basin

Difficulty Rating: Level 3: Challenging

Maximum Group Size: 15 participants

About the place

This project takes place on the ancestral lands of the Burns Paiute Tribe, a tribe of the Northern Paiute people. The Burns Paiute Tribe acquired the Jonesboro Property, also known as Denny Jones Ranch, near Juntura, Oregon in 2000. This property consists of 6,385 acres of meadow, wetland, and sagebrush steppe habitats along the Malheur River. The Tribe is managing the property to improve critical habitat for fish and wildlife populations, control and eradicate weed populations, improve water quality and preserve cultural resources for tribal members.

The Burns Paiute Natural Resource Department’s preliminary goals for the property are:

  • restore the riparian vegetative corridor
  • restore fish passage and in-stream habitat
  • convert degraded rangeland to productive wildlife habitat
  • improve irrigation efficiency and meadowland hay productivity and
  • develop and preserve ranch infrastructure.

ONDA has agreed to partner with the Tribe to accomplish important restoration work that supports their objectives.

About the stewardship work

For this trip, volunteers will be spending two days planting culturally significant plant species such as elderberry, golden currant and chokecherry along the Malheur River. ONDA and Burns Paiute staff will provide all instruction and necessary tools to do the job. All that is required is a love of the high desert, a big smile and a willingness to learn.

Trip Timeline

  • Sunday, October 22, 4-7pm: We will meet at our campsite on the ranch. Volunteers will be able to drive right into camp. Please note that the ranch is in Mountain Time.
  • Monday, October 23-Tuesday October 24, 8am-4pm: After breakfast, we will walk a short distance to the worksite to begin our first day of planting. Volunteers should plan to be out all day and be prepared for a full day of walking, kneeling and doing physical work in weather that could range from cold and wet to sunny and dry.
  • Wednesday October 25: After breakfast the group will be free to head home or spend some additional time exploring the expansive property that we will be working on.


We will be car camping in an open meadow, portapotties will be brought on site for our trip. There is not reliable access to potable water, so volunteers should bring what they will need. Volunteers should plan to bring all necessary camping equipment to spend three nights outside in what could be overnight temperatures below freezing.


Level 3

The work will require digging in hard and rocky soil, kneeling down repeatedly and carrying water to and from the planting site. There will be plenty of opportunities to take breaks and rotate tasks.

Participant responsibilities

Participants are responsible for their own food and camping gear as well as transportation to and from the trip (don’t forget your camp chair!). Sturdy off-trail ankle-high boots, long pants, a long sleeve shirt (a lightweight sun shirt is a great option), and eye protection are recommended for this trip (sunglasses or prescription eyeglasses are suitable eye protection). Participants should be prepared to be away from camp all day in weather that could range from wet and cold to sunny and warm, and bring a daypack for lunch, snacks and water.

Gear Provided

ONDA will provide tools for the work, work gloves and sunscreen. ONDA will also bring some group camping gear like tables and extra potable water along with expert leadership.


An ONDA registration application and medical form are required for this trip. Check the box next to each trip you would like to attend.

 Apply Now

You will receive a confirmation email within 10 working days of submitting your form. The confirmation email 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 “waitlist.”

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, 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.