Dark Night Skies in the High Desert

Grant Tandy

fact

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  

fact

Bobcat

Bobcat

Found only in North America, where it is the most common wildcat, the bobcat takes its common name from its stubby, or “bobbed,” tail. The cats range in length from two to four feet and weigh 14 to 29 pounds. Bobcats mainly hunt rabbits and hares, but they will also eat rodents, birds, bats, and even adult deer.

Latin name: Lynx rufus fasciatus

 

voices

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.”

“When I started putting this story map together, I didn’t know how serious the issue of light pollution was. I do a lot of reading about other environmental issues but had heard very little about this one,” she explained. “The most interesting part of the issue is how easy it is to solve. Other types of pollution are going to take much more science and personal sacrifice to combat, but reducing light pollution is simple to do and takes little effort, but it has such a large impact on improving the lives of every creature on this planet.”

For more on what you can do in eastern Oregon or even in your community and home to help combat light pollution, view Rachel’s story map and action items at the end.

“Ultimately I hope that others like me will consider what they can do in their own communities and homes to combat light pollution. I also hope that it gives people even more perspective into how important it is for us to conserve the deserts of southeastern Oregon,” she said.

As for Rachel, eastern Oregon continues to hold a fascination. She spent last summer doing fieldwork in the Vale and Burns Bureau of Land Management districts and plans to spend another field season this year in the sagebrush steppe doing vegetation sampling. Long term, she plans to get her master’s degree in Rangeland Ecology with the goal of doing research or conservation work in Oregon’s high desert landscapes.