Malheur Wild & Scenic River Monitoring



Reid Williams, 2021 Conservationist of the Year

Reid Williams, 2021 Conservationist of the Year

How far are you willing to hike for conservation? Reid Williams offered to put in more than 20 miles a day, by himself, walking and monitoring fence lines on Beatys Butte. And that was on top of weekly visits to the ONDA office, where he is always eager to help with extra projects. In acknowledgment of his willingness and helpful spirit, ONDA named him our 2021 Conservationist of the Year.


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  


Far from Big Macs

Far from Big Macs

There is a point in the Owyhee region, in northwestern Nevada, that is, at 115 miles away, as far away as you can get from a McDonalds in the U.S.


Organizer: Stewardship Team

Project Timeline: 5/01/2022 through 10/31/2022

Region: Malheur National Forest

Difficulty Rating: 4 out of 5

About the place

This project takes place on the traditional lands of the Northern Paiute, Wasco and Warm Springs people. Many Indigenous peoples live in Oregon’s high desert region today, including members of the Burns Paiute Tribe, the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs (Wasco, Warm Springs and Paiute), the Klamath Tribes (Klamath, Modoc and Yahooskin) and the Fort McDermitt Paiute and Shoshone Tribe.

The Malheur River and North Fork Malheur River is known for outstanding scenery, geology, wildlife habitat and history. The river corridor is generally characterized by a rugged and steep canyon ranging from 300- to 1,000-feet deep. The canyon geology is evident in the various rock outcrops, talus slopes and cliffs, contributing to the scenic diversity of the landscape. Scenic vistas from the canyon rims and views up and down canyon from the river are spectacular.

About the project

After two decades of legal pressure, the Forest Service is no longer authorizing livestock grazing along more than 64 miles of bull trout streams, covering more than 36,000 acres of national forest land in these two watersheds. Presumably in response to nascent habitat recovery, local bull trout populations also appear to be recovering. A number of allotment units along both rivers are permanently or temporarily closed to grazing.

This is a photo monitoring project

This project will involve taking new photos and visiting previous photo point locations to take current photos of the riparian conditions along identified stretches of the Malheur and North Fork Malheur Rivers and tributaries.


This project has about a five-month window (approximately May- October), and during this time you will be asked to find a day (or days…) to conduct the work….it’s all up to you!


Level 4

This trip will require hiking, both on trail and off. Depending on the section of river you choose, your hike could be almost 10-miles, although many sections are shorter and more accessible. Some hiking will involved walking along brushy and thickly vegetated riparian corridors.


An ONDA registration application and medical form are required for this project. You will also have the option to volunteer for other projects that become available throughout the year.

Project Details

All the information you will need to know about this independent project will be emailed to you after your registration is complete. Each project page has extensive information about access, technology, tools, maps and more. Please be prepared to spend 1-2 hours reviewing this information prior to heading out on your project, the good news is that time spent reviewing and preparing for your trip all counts towards your volunteer hours.

 Apply Now