Securing protective designations

Sage Brown   Website

Public lands and waters can be protected from harmful development and other impacts when they are given a specific designation by the federal government. Oregon Natural Desert Association is the only group dedicated exclusively to protecting Oregon’s high desert. 





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


Owyhee Canyon Swallows Sparrows and Rushing Water

Owyhee Canyon Swallows Sparrows and Rushing Water


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.”

Securing the highest level of protection for wild lands and waters

Wild landscapes can be designated as National Parks, National Monuments, or Wilderness Areas and rivers can be designated as Wild and Scenic Rivers. The highest level of protection available for public lands—even stronger than National Park status—is designation as Wilderness.

Oregon Natural Desert Association has successfully led campaigns that established the first and only three desert Wilderness areas in Oregon: Steens Mountain Wilderness, Oregon Badlands Wilderness, and Spring Basin Wilderness.

Even with the future of those remarkable landscapes secured, our work is just beginning.

Only a tiny fraction of Oregon’s desert public lands are protected as Wilderness—just 1 percent! This means there are many more exceptional desert public lands in Oregon’s desert, upwards of eight million acres, in great need of conservation action.

To learn more about our current efforts to protect our desert lands as Wilderness, visit the John Day River Region, the Central Oregon Backcountry, and the Owyhee Canyonlands.

Enjoying Wilderness Areas

“Take only memories, leave nothing but footprints.” – Chief Si’ahl

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The Wilderness Act of 1964

Thanks to the Wilderness Act of 1964, future generations of Americans can experience the same landscapes that we have the opportunity to explore and enjoy today. ONDA campaigns to see qualified desert lands protected as wilderness.

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