Standing against
racism and injustice

Tyson Fisher   Website

Dear ONDA members:

The recent, senseless murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd and the threat of violence against Christian Cooper have shaken all of us. The protests of the past week reflect the accumulated pain that has come from generations of racism and injustice in many communities across the country. ONDA stands with the Black community in outrage against these acts and the oppression that pervades many aspects of society. Black lives matter.

As members, you know that a key part of ONDA’s work is encouraging and empowering the public to speak up for conservation of public lands in Oregon’s desert. We ensure that your voice is heard and your values are represented in the long-term management of millions of acres. This is work we’ve been proud to do for decades and we’re continually impressed by the passionate engagement all of you bring to Oregon’s desert and the incredible progress that can be accomplished when we all pull together.

It’s unquestionably clear that, no matter how much we may advocate for broad community engagement in public land management, many communities across the U.S. simply cannot fully engage because they have the literal or figurative knee of pervasive racism and injustice bearing down on their necks. For Black, Brown, Indigenous and many other people, the weight of oppression is physical, economic and emotional. It is immoral. It needs to stop. 

If we are to be successful in our mission to conserve Oregon’s desert, we must engage in dismantling racist systems. Everyone deserves a voice in protecting the landscapes they love. Everyone should have the opportunity to speak up on the issues they care about without being silenced, and everyone should feel safe wherever they go, including the remote, awe-inspiring, magical corners of Oregon’s desert. 

Our staff and board have been focused on learning, growing and identifying tangible ways to change our organization and the white-dominated conservation sector in which we work. We’ve invested in training, updated hiring and internship programs, and built community partnerships. We aim to listen more than we talk when engaging with non-white communities. We have much to learn, and much to do, and know that we will make mistakes. We hope you will support us and hold us accountable, as you would with everything we do.   

We owe it to our community, to the people who have suffered and continue to suffer, and to the future generations that will build upon what we leave as our legacies. We also owe this to our core conservation mission as equality, empowerment, inclusion and justice are inextricably woven into how we can most effectively protect, defend and restore Oregon’s desert for all.

As ONDA board member Erin Gaines recently said, “It will be hard work, and it may be uncomfortable at times, but it is work I know we will all be proud of.”

Thank you for standing with us for justice, equity and inclusion as we stand together for Oregon’s desert.

Ryan Houston

Executive Director


Durlin Hicock, Alice Elshoff Award winner

Durlin Hicock, Alice Elshoff Award winner

“Protecting public land is part of my spiritual being. It’s central to my identity to be in wilderness and to see it protected.” Durlin is proud to protect public lands for future generations, saying, “The highlight of my childhood was our family’s weekend outdoor trips. I look forward to my grandchildren having similar experiences outside in their lifetimes, and it wouldn’t be possible without ONDA.”




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


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