Protected: Burnt Car Road Monitoring

Sage Brown   Website


Aaron Tani, Sage Society Member

Aaron Tani, Sage Society Member

“It feels good to support ONDA on a monthly basis, because I know they never stop supporting our public lands. ONDA works to help make our lands a better place for the future, and I feel like I’m a part of that every month with my support.”


Oregon’s first desert wilderness

Oregon’s first desert wilderness

Steens Mountain: Oregon’s first desert wilderness

On October 30, 2000, Congress passed the Steens Mountain Cooperative Management and Protection Act, finishing the work that had taken ONDA and the other members of the Steens-Alvord Coalition decades  

Steens Mountain is a land of startling contrasts: dramatic u-shaped

Read More


Wind and Birds in Quaking Aspen

Wind and Birds in Quaking Aspen


Below you will find all the information you need to prepare, conduct, and report on this project. Please set aside an hour or two to read through this project page and all materials thoroughly.

Much of the work that goes into an Independent Stewards project is done at home before you head out! All of this prep time counts towards your volunteer hours, so please keep track of this. Below you will find more information on what you will need to report on this project after your field time.


When the Steens Act went into effect in 2000, Burnt Car Road was a primitive, 4-wheel drive route near the Donner und Blitzen Wild and Scenic River. In 2009, the Bureau of Land Management illegally bladed 28 miles of primitive routes, including Burnt Car Road. ONDA sued, and eventually settled the case. As a condition of the settlement, the Bureau was required to block off and close the portion that was bladed into the Steens Mountain Wilderness Area, close a portion of Tombstone Road, and rehabilitate the remaining routes by narrowing them to 10 feet widths, dispersing boulders and soil that were bladed to the side of the roads, eliminate most constructed ditches, and plant or re-seed disturbed areas with native species.

The main purpose of the monitoring is to determine the rate and extent to which the route is returning to its original (pre-2009) condition. (Read ONDA’s complaint here, and the settlement agreement here.)

Comparison photographs are key to documenting change through time. In addition to comparison photos, it is important to document weed invasion, especially cheatgrass and medusahead, whether travel has occurred on closed roads, and how much travel is occurring on the routes.


This is a photo monitoring project:

  • The photo points are uploaded into GaiaGPS, so you can use that app to navigate to each individual photo location. Then please use the individual PDF pages which have smaller maps that shows the direction that the photo was taken, and has a previous photo that you will need to match as best you can.
  • To help in lining up the photo, look for defining features on the landscape like a hill, or tree, or horizon line to match. Some PDF pages have a “pre-bladed” photo and a “post-bladed” photo.


This project can be completed any time of year when there is not snow on the ground, however the road from the South Steens Loop may be closed in the spring until mid-May. Burnt Car Road is about 2.5 miles from the South Steens Loop Road/Hwy 205 intersection.


Click for driving directions from Bend 

  • Please adjust your starting destination as needed
  • You may want to print these or send the directions to your phone

Monitoring Activities Must Conform to the Non-Impairment Standard

Monitoring activities need to meet the non-impairment standard. Thus, your use of vehicles or motorized travel for monitoring purposes must follow the same rules that the general public is required to follow. In other words, please do not drive off of any established routes and be sure to follow the guidelines from the land management agency you are working in regarding vehicle access and parking or trailhead locations.

Adjust the timing of your visit to avoid negative impacts to resources. These include:

  • Avoid using primitive routes when they are wet and driving would cause rutting.
  • If you are taking monitoring photos of roads or routes, take the photo of a road BEFORE you drive on it.
  • If driving is difficult (very rocky road, rutted, wet, etc.) and/or will impact the road in a negative way, please walk the road to do your monitoring. When in doubt, walk it out.
  • Avoid driving on 2-track roads during fire season. If a two-track road has tall grasses that would brush the underside of your vehicle, please do not drive, instead walk the road. Tall dry grasses can easily ignite in the dry season. If you are monitoring during fire season you will need to carry a shovel, 5 gallons of water and a fire extinguisher; these items can help you put out a small fire should you encounter one during your monitoring.
  • Please report all instances of fire you encounter while monitoring.

Private Land, Fences & Gates

All of ONDA’s monitoring projects are on public land, however some areas contain inholdings (small parcels of private land surrounded by public land). You may pass very close to private land, and in a few spots an easement allows travel on two-track roads through private property boundaries. If you encounter a “No Trespassing, Keep Out,” sign, please respect the boundary. If you decide to explore on your trip, it is your responsibility to ensure you are on public land. Many apps, like GaiaGPS, offer private land layers you can reference.

Most Bureau of Land Management land follows a Multiple Use Mandate as part of their management plan. The Multiple Use Mandate ensures that a variety of different land uses may occur on public lands. Expect to encounter other land users while conducting your monitoring project. Please respect their rights to use these lands and take care to not interfere with their operations or equipment. Other activity that may be encountered includes: livestock grazing, wildlife habitat, wild horses, cultural preservation, off-road vehicles, rock hounding, and hunting.

You will encounter fences while in the high desert. Not all fences mean private land, and not all private land is fenced. Many of the fences you will encounter are important borders for public land grazing allotments. PLEASE leave all gates that you encounter as you find them. If there are gates that are difficult to open or close, make a note and pass that information along to us.

Desert Driving and Preparedness

Some access roads you might utilize for a monitoring project are not suitable for regular passenger cars. In addition to a high-clearance, 4WD vehicle, it is recommended that vehicles traveling in Oregon’s high desert have the following:

  • At least one full-size spare tire, with car jack, lug wrench and a 1’x1’ square of plywood (or similar—something to set the jack base on in sandy soils). Practice putting on the spare tire in a nonemergency setting is very important!
  • Extra key in a magnetic hide-a-key box. It’s no fun driving with a broken window because you had to break into your car to get your locked-in key.
  • Extra fuel for the vehicle, extra engine coolant and engine oil.
  • At least one gallon of extra drinking water.
  • Jumper cables, Fix-A-Flat, tow-strap and a flashlight.
  • Consider a small DC-powered air compressor.
  • After a significant rain event, desert soils/primitive roads may become too supersaturated to drive on, so please look at the weather forecast before leaving home.
  • Shovel and possibly a fire extinguisher. Check with local Bureau of Land Management offices, Forest Service and National Wildlife Refuge offices for fire danger levels and whether these items are required.


Dispersed camping in the high desert can be a wonderful way to add another element of adventure and connection to your trip. Most projects will take place on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land where dispersed camping is allowed. Here are a few tips we suggest you consider when looking for a camp site:

  • Camp 100 feet away from any water source
  • Do not drive off existing roads to establish a camp
  • Camp where others have camped before; look for an established fire ring or impacted area
  • Pack it in, pack it out
  • Follow Leave No Trace principals (see safety tab for more info)
  • Pay attention to fire restrictions on public land during fire season (mid to late summer-early fall most years)
  • Roads with vegetation may be closed during times of extreme fire danger due to the flammable nature of dried grasses.
  • Do not rely on Google Maps or other driving apps for directions, they are regularly wrong. A road map atlas is the best source of road conditions.


You will need these tools for this project:

  • Smart phone/tablet with capability to take geolocated photos  – needs to be capable of running the GaiaGPS app (see more below)
  • External battery pack (suggested for longer monitoring projects when you might need more power)
    • Anker is giving ONDA stewardship volunteers 15% off the purchase of an external battery pack this year. The code cannot be released to any public website, social media, etc. This is a one-time use code per volunteer. Visit and use the code WSONDA15  at checkout.
  • Satellite beacon (suggested as a safety device should you need assistance – ONDA uses Garmin InReach devices)
  • Paper & pen (see more on next tab)

Important info about your phone/tablet camera:

  • Please make sure your location data is turned on for your camera. You can test this by taking a photo and uploading it to this webpage: which will show you if the photo has geodata embedded in it.
  • NOTE: If you are using an ipad with wifi only capabilities – no cellular service – the tablet does not have a GPS location chip. If you are not sure, turn off the wifi on your device and turn on an app like Google Maps. If the map doesn’t register your location, you do not have a GPS location chip. You can buy an external GPS receiver to make your tablet work, but almost all cellphones have this GPS chip installed in the device.
  • NOTE: An update for Apple phones in 2019 has changed your camera file formats to HEIC. This format does not embed the geolocation data in the image, which we need in the photos. You can change the file type from HEIC to jpg from your settings > camera > formats. Please check that it works before you go!

You will need to install this app on your phone/tablet:

  • GaiaGPS – This app works great for navigation, locating photo points, viewing satellite imagery, private and public land parcels and more. We have uploaded all the info you will need for this monitoring project, including the base maps you will use while your device is in the field and on airplane mode.
    1. Download the Gaia GPS app onto your device (Apple) (Android)
    2. Log into the GaiaGPS monitoring account (login:, password: desertdatatime$$)
    3. The preferred layer to view the topography is the USGS topo map. It’s also helpful to turn off all the Trailbehind POIs.
      • Press the layers icon (looks like three sheets of paper stacked), scroll down to the bottom and turn “Layered Maps” on. This will allow you to adjust your view between the three maps we have saved to the account 1) USGS Topo, 2) Private Land (so you can make sure you are public land for your project), and 3) Satellite (which can be helpful to reference). Please refer to this for more information. There are many other layer options, but these are the three we would like you to use for this project.
    4. Under the settings button sync your device with Gaia cloud (while you are on wifi), this will automatically start a download of the topo maps you will need during your monitoring trip. Make sure these are all downloaded before you leave wifi. It might take some time for all the tracks, waypoints, and maps to download.
      • If you are getting “sync incomplete” errors and not all of the data is showing up, log out and log back in.
    5. Test it: turn your phone on airplane mode, then navigate to the area on the map that you downloaded, and make sure the topo map shows up.
    6. Photo point waypoints will show up
      1. NOTE: all data is synced between devices, any additional downloads of maps or waypoints will be shared among all monitoring Gaia accounts and other monitoring devices using GaiaGPS. Please don’t use the monitoring account for personal trips, don’t delete anything in the account, and logout when you are finished.
      2. NOTE: The monitoring account may be used for more than one project, so other data could be downloaded when you login. Please do not delete this data.
      3. NOTE: The GaiaGPS app does allow you to take or attach photos to waypoints from within the app, but there are limitations to this method, especially with bulk photo downloads. Please do not take or attach photos in the GaiaGPS app at this time; use your device’s camera app.


Note: for those volunteers completing this project in pairs, you do not have to duplicate data on each person’s personal device. You have two options: 1) one person records all the data on their device or 2) each person takes turns recording data on their own device, as long as both sets of data reflect all observations and there is no duplicate or overlapping data.

Locating Photo Point

When you arrive at Burnt Car Road use the GaiaGPS app to navigate to the first waypoint you wish to visit.

Take Photo

  1. When you arrive at a pre-determined photo point:
    • Use the printed page of previous photos to match and try and re-create. ONDA uses these photos at the same location and direction over time to see the changes at that particular location.
    • You can look for a tree or identifying feature to try and match the photos to help you match the direction.
    • Take photos in landscape position – so the image is wide and not tall.

Write Down Observations: please note, volunteers will be typing up your observations, so please make sure your handwriting is readable!

    1. For each photo you take note it on the blank monitoring sheet. Use the same numbers as appear on the photo sheet, so when you are at 001, in the “photo number” column on the paper, write 001.
    2. Use the compass feature at the top of the Gaia app to note the direction you are facing when you take the photo (you are welcome to use another compass-type app if you like, or a real compass!).
    3. In the third “observations” column write down anything notable about the location, for example – area heavily impacted by cattle, abundant grasses growing, significant erosion, etc. The more detailed your observations, the easier it will be to match the descriptions to the photos should a photo point get skipped, or an extra photo gets taken.
      • If  you don’t see any impacts, please note that you don’t see any ground disturbance. No impacts, or no new impacts are very important to note.
    4. When you have taken all of the photos, review to make sure the number of photos you took matches the number of photos you wrote down on your monitoring sheet. Please do this in the field in case a photo point was missed, or something went array in the note taking.


ONDA launched a wildlife monitoring project this summer which invites all volunteers to collect important species observations while completing other ISP projects. This project will assist the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) with their Oregon Wildlife Conservation Project; through the smartphone app iNaturalist, ODFW has asked the public to collect wildlife observation data on amphibians, birds, mammals, and reptiles across Oregon.

If you collect wildlife observations while on this project, please only submit one report with your combined volunteer hours and data. For example, if you submit 10 wildlife observations to iNaturalist while completing this project, and taking those observations added another hour to the time you spent on the project, submit one report (as detailed on this project’s “Reporting & Data Uploads” tab) with the total time spent on both projects, and include your number of observations in the report field marked “Number of Wildlife Observations Taken.”

You are also welcome to make a wildlife monitoring trip to the high desert as a separate volunteer activity, and if you are not combining wildlife monitoring with this project, please follow all the directions for reporting your time as mentioned on the page linked below.

Please visit this password protected page for all the details on observing and recording information on northern basin and range strategy species:

Wildlife Monitoring

Protected: Wildlife Monitoring Project

password: floraandfauna


Once you are finished with your project, please fill out our reporting form; once you do you will be entered to win a monthly raffle prize from some of our business members. Check out the Notes from the Field page for stats on what ONDA volunteers accomplished each month, raffle winners, photos and more.

If you take multiple trips to complete a project, please submit a report for each trip you take.

Note: for those volunteers completing this project in pairs, you do not have to duplicate data on each person’s personal device. You have two options: 1) one person records all the data on their device or 2) each person takes turns recording data on their own device, as long as both sets of data reflect all observations and there is no duplicate or overlapping data. Only one of you needs to fill out the ISP reporting form, and in the field marked: “Did you complete this project with another volunteer(s)? Please enter their name(s) and ONDA staff will record the same number of volunteer hours for each of you.

To fill out the report you will need to copy and paste this unique project ID into the form:


We will be tracking this information:

  • Date: The date started the project; on multi-day projects, please report the first date you were out.
  • Mileage: What was the total mileage from your home to the project site and back?
  • Hours: How many total hours did you spend on the project? Please include project prep time (reading this web page!), drive time both ways, post-project data/photo processing, and reporting
  • Expenditures: How much money did you spend while completing the project? Please include any food, gas, lodging, etc. you spent east of the Cascades.
  • Project details: 
    • Photo Monitoring: Number of photo points taken
    • Number of Wildlife Observations Taken: If you participated in the Wildlife Monitoring Project as described on the “Wildlife Monitoring” tab, include the total number of observations you submitted on iNaturalist

Data upload

  1. Please open  this google drive folder and make a new folder for your data (click the button in the upper left corner that says “+ New” and click the first option “Folder”). Name the folder with your name and start date of your monitoring work, like “Jane Doe June 22”
  2. Upload all of your photos into this folder, and rename your photos to match the photo point name (008, FT044, etc.)
  3. Take a photo of your photo monitoring sheet and upload it to the folder. A volunteer who has offered to help us with data management will be typing up your observations into a spreadsheet. In case of handwriting legibility issues, we may connect you with that volunteer so you can help them read your observations sheet.
  4. If you made tracks or waypoints in GaiaGPS to share with us, please open the app and sync your device (under settings) while on wifi.
  5. To recap, every photo you uploaded should have a corresponding observation noted on the photo monitoring sheet.

Problems with the data upload? Let us know.

Click here to fill out your monitoring report



ONDA’s Independent Steward project opportunities are a great chance to get the whole family out on a desert adventure while volunteering some of your time to help us complete important work.

If you have a family or household member who would like to join on this project, we would love to capture their time and efforts too. Every volunteer hour recorded makes a big difference! Please have them fill out this form. 

If a project participant is under 18, a parent or guardian will need to sign the form

Yes, you are welcome to bring your dog, but please make sure they are also good stewards of the land and don’t chase and stress the wildlife while you are in the desert.


We hope you will use this Independent Stewards opportunity to deepen your connection to the high desert.

Do you Instagram? Tag your photos #independentONDA and they will automatically show up on the Notes from the Field page, or email us one, and we’ll post it.

Consider spending some time doing what you love out there, your favorite activity might feel completely different in the sagebrush sea!

Here are a few ideas:

  • Read about the place you are visiting, here are some suggestions to get you started:
    • Atlas of Oregon by William G. Loy
    • The Oregon Desert by E. R. Jackman
    • Life Among the Paiutes: Their Wrongs and Claims by Sarah Winnemucca
    • Thinking like a Canyon by Jerold Ramsey
    • Oregon’s Dry Side by Alan D. St. John
    • Legends of the Northern Paiute: as told by Wilson Wewa
    • Out Here by Ursula Le Guin
    • Oregon’s Great Basin Country by Denzel Ferguson
    • Hole in the Sky by William Kittredge
    • Netting the Sun: A Personal Geography of the Oregon Desert by Melvin R. Adams
    • Child of the Steens by Eileen O’Keeffe McVicker and Barbara J. Scott
    • Walking the High Desert, Encounters with Rural America along the Oregon Desert Trail by Ellen Waterston
  • Paint the landscape
  • Take your telescope and peer at the Milky Way
  • Dance
  • Write a poem or description of your day
  • Go for a run
  • Listen to music while the sun sets
  • Listen for the sounds of the desert
  • Identify as many birds as you can
  • Fly a kite
  • Figure out how to cook your favorite meal on a camp stove
  • Do some yoga
  • Sing
  • Visit some hot springs
  • Photograph the sagebrush sea
  • Count the pronghorn you see
  • Try to make a sagebrush sandal
  • Learn about the Northern Paiute (you will probably be on their traditional homelands)

Hopefully this list gave you some good ideas!

Essentially, take some time while you are on this project to be, just be in place, and marvel at the desert around you.


Should you have an emergency while on your project please call 911.

Harney County:

  • Harney County Sheriff’s Office – Search and Rescue, Non-emergency phone: 541-573-6156 weekdays only
  • The nearest medical facility is in Burns: Harney District Hospital, 557 W Washington St, Burns, OR 97720, 541-573-7281

It’s always a good idea to check the weather before you head out; excessive moisture or storms can make some areas in the desert inaccessible.

It is extremely important to avoid approaching other public land users under the pretense of enforcement or engage in any potentially controversial discussions. If you witness any potential illegal activity (e.g., people who are driving off-road in a WSA), avoid approaching the illegal use or engaging in potentially confrontational discussions.  Your personal safety is your highest priority. Only attempt to collect identifying information (e.g., license plates and photos) if you feel it is safe to do so.

Should you have any notable interactions or conversations, please let us know.


While there may be springs or perennial water sources in the area you will be monitoring, we strongly advise you bring all water you will need for the duration of the trip with you due to the unreliable nature of many desert water sources. If you do plan on utilizing water sources on your trip, please filter or treat all water before consuming.


Following these suggestions will help you travel safely through the high desert of eastern Oregon and enjoy fragile places responsibly.

Desert Safety:
  • Drink plenty of water. Eastern Oregon is arid, and you may need to carry more water than you are used to in other environments. Be conservative and carry more than you need until you have a good handle on your body’s needs in this environment. If you are going on a multi-day trip, carry an adequate water purification system and consume plenty of electrolytes (the salts and sugars your body needs to help you absorb the water you are drinking).
  • Seek out shade, or carry it with you. Make use of shade for food and water breaks. And, with little to no shade throughout much the desert, consider carrying a sun umbrella to take your shade along with you.
  • Cover up. Desert sun can be harsh on a hiker’s skin, so consider covering up with lightweight long sleeves and pants for sun protection.
  • Be prepared for temperature swings -Days are hot and nights are cool – even on the hottest days in the desert, the temperatures can drop dramatically when the sun sets. Be prepared for cooler temperatures at night.
  • Be mindful in brushy sections. Use a hiking pole or stick to rustle tall grasses as you hike to help alert any snakes, and other wildlife, to your presence and give both of you a chance to move away from an encounter. Wearing tall gaiters can be useful in cross-country sections with heavy vegetation, or in places with difficult bushwhacks, to protect your ankles from both snakes and thorny brush.
  • Go easy during the hottest part of the year, or time of the day. Be careful that you don’t plan to engage in strenuous activities during the hottest part of the year, or during the heat of the day. Hiking during the spring or fall can provide more comfortable all-around temperatures for hiking, or, if you’re going mid-summer, consider getting up early or hiking late and being more relaxed at midday. Think siesta!
  • Use Verizon cell service. Verizon has the best cell service throughout the high desert. The exception is in the Owyhee region where there is little to no service at all.
  • Consider carrying a personal locator beacon. Technology has advanced to the point that hikers can always seek assistance if needed with the use of personal locator beacons.
  • Watch your steps and avoid damaging sensitive terrain. Many areas in the high desert are best explored off trail. To minimize impacts of travel through fragile high desert soils, if you see other footprints, don’t follow them. Instead choose a similar bearing and walk a short distance away. Desert soils can be easily impacted, and it only takes a few hikers to start establishing tread in the desert. Be particularly careful not to step on black, knobby crusts on the soil or sand. These cryptobiotic soil crusts perform important ecological roles, including carbon fixation and more, and can be damaged easily.
  • Cross fences carefully. Hikers may encounter fences on cross-country hikes in the high desert, and yes, fences are on public lands. Because many of the high desert landscapes are used for grazing and ranching, these fences keep the cattle where they belong. Cross these fences with care. If you encounter gates, leave them as you find them. Please respect the multiple other uses throughout in the desert.
  • Avoid driving on wet roads. Waterlogged desert soils can bog down a vehicle in inches or feet of mud. In remote parts of the Oregon Desert, recent precipitation can make some roads impassable, even on flat terrain. Gravel roads can be a better bet when conditions are wet as the gravel can provide extra traction between your car tires and the slick mud. Remember that help in the form of a tow-truck can be hours to days away, and prohibitively expensive in these remote locations.
  • Don’t start a sagebrush wildfire. All motorists should have required fire prevention equipment in their vehicle to ensure fire prevention and personal safety. With the exception of traveling on state and county roads, you are required to have: an axe, a shovel, and one gallon of water and/or one 2.5 pound or larger fire extinguisher. Open fires, including campfires, charcoal fires, cooking fires and warming fires, are permitted only at posted and designated sites, and, smoking in wildland areas is permitted only in enclosed vehicles on roads. Know what is required by the Bureau of Land Management.
Practice “Leave No Trace”

When visiting wild areas, it is imperative that you “take only photographs, leave only footprints” and follow the “Leave No Trace” principles:

  • Plan Ahead and Prepare – Know the rules of the area you’re visiting. Research current conditions and weather in the area and always travel prepared for emergencies or inclement weather.
  • Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces – Minimize your impact by sticking to established trails and campsites or durable surfaces such as rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow. Avoid walking off trail through sensitive riparian areas or on steep slopes. Make your camp at least 200 feet from creeks, lakes and rivers, and leave your site as you found it.
  • Respect Wildlife – Observe wildlife from a distance to allow them peace in their natural environment. Do not follow or approach them and never feed wild animals.
  • Dispose of Waste Properly – Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Always pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.
  • Leave What You Find – Leave rocks, plants, animals and historical artifacts as you find them. Examine, but do not touch, cultural or historical artifacts such as structures and rock art.
  • Minimize Campfire Impacts – Know the current regulations on campfires for the area and follow the rules. When fires are allowed keep them small and in control at all times. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand. Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.
  • Be Considerate of Other Visitors – Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience by being courteous and yielding to other visitors on the trail. Let nature’s sounds prevail by avoiding loud voices and noises. Avoid cliffs and steep areas and be conscious of hikers below you on the trail who may be hurt by any debris that you knock loose.

© 1999 by the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics:

The 10 Essentials

Carrying the Ten Essentials will help you respond positively to an accident or emergency, and safely spend a night—or more—out, if needed.

Once known as the Ten Essentials list (developed by The Mountaineers in the 1930s), the list has evolved over time from a list of individual items to a list of functional systems.

  1. Navigation: Always carry a detailed topographic map of the area you are visiting, and place it in a protective case or plastic covering. Always carry a compass. Other navigational tools include an altimeter or global positioning system (GPS) receiver; other aids include route markers, route descriptions, and other types of maps or photos.
  2. Sun Protection: Carry and use sunglasses, sunscreen for the lips and skin, and clothing for sun protection.
  3. Insulation (Extra Clothing): How much extra clothing is necessary for an emergency? The term “extra clothing” refers to garments beyond what you are wearing for the active portion of your outing, the additional layers that would be needed to survive long, inactive hours of an unplanned bivouac.
  4. Illumination: Even if you plan to return to their cars before dark, it is essential to carry a headlamp or flashlight, just in case. Batteries and bulbs do not last forever, so carry spares of both at all times.
  5. First-Aid Supplies: Carry and know how to use a first-aid kit, but do not let a first-aid kit give you a false sense of security. The best course of action is to always take the steps necessary to avoid injury or sickness in the first place. At a minimum, a first-aid kit should include gauze pads in various sizes, roller gauze, small adhesive bandages, butterfly bandages, triangular bandages, battle dressing (or Carlisle bandage), adhesive tape, scissors, cleansers or soap, latex gloves, and paper and pencil.
  6. Fire: Carry the means to start and sustain an emergency fire—a butane lighter or matches in a waterproof container. Firestarters, such as candles, chemical heat tabs, and canned heat, are indispensable for igniting wet wood quickly to make an emergency campfire.
  7. Repair Kit and Tools: Knives are so useful in first aid, food preparation, repairs, and climbing that every party member needs to carry one. Other tools (pliers, screwdriver, awl, scissors) can be part of a knife or a pocket tool, or carried separately—perhaps even as part of a group kit. Other useful repair items are shoelaces, safety pins, needle and thread, wire, duct tape, nylon fabric repair tape, cable ties, plastic buckles, cordage, webbing, and repair parts for equipment used on your trip.
  8. Nutrition (Extra Food): For shorter trips, a one-day supply of extra food is a reasonable emergency stockpile in case foul weather, faulty navigation, injury, or other reasons delay the planned return. An expedition or long trek may require more. The food should require no cooking, be easily digestible, and store well for long periods.
  9. Hydration (Extra Water): Carry extra water and have the skills and tools required for obtaining and purifying additional water. Always carry at least one water bottle or collapsible water sack. Daily water consumption varies greatly. Two quarts (liters) daily is a reasonable minimum; in hot weather or at high altitudes, 6 quarts may not be enough. In dry environments, carry additional water. Plan for enough water to accommodate additional requirements due to heat, cold, altitude, exertion, or emergency.
  10. Emergency Shelter: If the party is not carrying a tent, carry some sort of extra shelter from rain and wind, such as a plastic tube tent or a jumbo plastic trash bag. Another possibility is a reflective emergency blanket. It can be used in administering first aid to an injured or hypothermic person, or can double as a means of shelter.

Adapted from Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills, published by Mountaineers Books.


Because many of our Independent Steward projects have ongoing windows of opportunity to spend some time in the high desert, please take the heat into consideration as you are planning your outings. Your safety is of primary concern, and it is ok to postpone a planned visit until cooler temps prevail.

For a perspective on what this drought and fire season means for the ecological health of the high desert please read this ONDA post.

Driving in Fire Season: When the fire danger level on the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) public lands reaches IFPL 3, do not drive on any roads with tall vegetation that would brush the underside of your vehicles. All of these roads will need to be walked or biked; plan to carry a shovel, water and/or fire extinguisher with you during fire season so you can respond to any small fires you or others may inadvertently start. Even if you don’t plan to leave a paved road during your trip, please keep these items in your car. Sparks from vehicles can start fires even on the highway, and it’s possible that you can help stop a new fire with just a few shovelfuls of dirt.

Other fire restrictions include: This information is from the Lakeview Bureau of Land Management, and reflects standard protocols for public lands in eastern Oregon:

  1. No building, maintaining, attending, or using a fire, campfire, or stove fire, including charcoal briquettes (Portable cooking stoves using liquefied or bottled fuels are allowed).

  2. No smoking while traveling in timber, brush, or grass areas, except in vehicles on roads or while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable material is prohibited.

  3. No operating a chainsaw or other equipment powered by an internal combustion engine

  4. No possessing, discharging or using any kind of firework or other pyrotechnic device.

  5. No welding, or operating acetylene or other torch with open flame.

Keeping tabs on fire conditions/incidents: Please consult these resources before you head out for your stewardship/monitoring project:


As part of our Independent Stewards application, all volunteers agreed to the following regarding stewardship in the time of the COVID pandemic:

Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA) is monitoring the Covid-19 pandemic including information and recommendations from the Oregon Health Authority and the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The health and safety of our volunteers and staff is our top priority and ONDA is working diligently to ensure that we have the proper controls and protocols in place. This Statement of Understanding and Assumption of Risk supplements but does not replace any of ONDA’s waivers, releases or other agreements signed by ONDA volunteers.

I understand there are risks of contracting Covid-19 which can be reduced but not eliminated and that mitigation efforts require the understanding and cooperation of everyone participating in an adventure activity as defined in the Release. I have chosen to voluntarily participate in the activity and I both assume the risk of contracting Covid-19 and agree to take measures intended to keep me and others around me safe and healthy.

While traveling to an ONDA activity, I agree to:

  • Only travel with members of my household
  • Take enough supplies to be self-sufficient while traveling to and from the activity and minimize stops in communities to fuel and rest areas
  • Keep a face mask with me and follow all state requirements for wearing when within six feet of any person outside my household and in all indoor spaces
  • Carry hand sanitizer to use before and after interactions
  • Look up local guidelines and phases of reopening in locations you will be traveling. Before visiting please look up or call land managers to know what to expect, some facilities and businesses may not be open
  • While participating in the activity, I agree to:
  • Use hand washing and equipment sanitizing routines
  • Use respiratory etiquette including stepping away from others and coughing and sneezing into my elbow or shoulder
  • Not touch my face with unwashed hands
  • Not share personal items like water bottles, lip balm and eating utensils
  • Maintain a social distances of at least 6 feet from others whenever possible
  • Wear a mask anytime I am requested to do so and at all times when I must be within 6 feet from another person

I understand there are a number of symptoms of Covid-19, some of which are: fever over 100.5*F, cough, shortness of breath, body aches, fatigue, chills, headache, sore throat, loss of sense of smell and taste, and gastrointestinal infections similar to norovirus which may cause vomiting and diarrhea. If I have any of these symptoms, I will not travel to and participate in an ONDA stewardship project.


The next step is to go!

Please refer to the Project Details tab about when this assignment can be completed. Then, make some time on your calendar in that time frame to head out to the desert. Fill out the project report in a timely manner when you return from your trip, and don’t forget, you will be entered to win some goodies when it has been submitted. Plan to submit a report for each trip you take; some projects can be completed over several visits.

Whew! You made it through. That was a lot of information!

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