Oregon Desert Trail Impact Monitoring

Jim Davis   Website

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The Last Darkness

The Last Darkness

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Ryan “Dirtmonger” Sylva, ODT thru-hiker 2017

Ryan “Dirtmonger” Sylva, ODT thru-hiker 2017

“To me, it’s a thru-hike in an isolated place that promotes a conversation in land management, ethics and usage. Hiking across a vast and remote landscape and having a random and chance encounter with cowboys and hunters to discuss how ‘all of us’ should treat the land, how we all have a responsibility, no matter our political leanings, really showed me the pulse of the people in rural areas, especially here out west.”

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Western Meadowlark Dawn Chorus

Western Meadowlark Dawn Chorus

Organizer: Stewardship Team

Project Timeline: 4/01/2022 through 11/30/2022

Region: Eastern Oregon

Difficulty Rating: Level 5: Extreme

Volunteers Needed: No limit

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.

An ONDA initiative since 2011, the 750-mile Oregon Desert Trail traverses some of the most spectacular natural areas of the state’s dry side, including Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge, Steens Mountain, and the Owyhee Canyonlands.

About the project

About 35% of the 750 miles of the Oregon Desert Trail involve cross country travel in the sagebrush sea; hikers will navigate these sections with map and compass or gps devices. We direct hikers to avoid making impacts on cross country sections, and instead of following footprints, to hike in a similar bearing. The goal is to avoid creating “trail” by having people on the landscape walking in the same alignment over and over; we want intact habitats and ecosystems to be the primary importance out there…and to help hikers understand how to travel without creating impacts.

This is a photo monitoring project that will help us gauge hiker-related impacts, and help us to get in front of any issues that might occur in areas of cross country travel in “pinch points” on the landscape that might funnel hiker traffic.

This is a photo monitoring project

Volunteers will take geolocated photos with their smartphones or devices along pre-determined photo points on the Oregon Desert Trail.

Timing:

This project will involve multiple volunteers during the year, however shoulder seasons (April-June & September-October) are the most suitable to backpacking the Oregon Desert Trail. You can hike as much of the ODT as you like or as many times as you like. We ask volunteers who sign up for this project to make at least one monitoring trip in 2022 for a minimum of four hours.

Difficulty

Level 5

Volunteers will need to be comfortable with off-trail navigation and hiking long distances. Some photo monitoring points could be visited as a day trip, others will involved a multi-day backpacking trip. You can monitor one photo point, or all of them; multiple photos taken throughout the year taken by different volunteers are encouraged.

Registration

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.

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