Tribal Stewards

Sage Brown   Website

ONDA’s tribal stewards program offers Native American young adults with deep ancestral ties to eastern Oregon’s public lands an introduction to conservation careers and provides hands‐on experience and opportunities for personal growth within a culturally relevant framework. This community‐designed project was created in partnership with Northwest Youth Corps, Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, Burns Paiute Tribe and federal agencies.

Through an immersive field‐based program, participants restore streams, uplands and trails on federal and tribal lands and conduct scientific research. In addition to gaining practical restoration and research experience, the tribal stewards receive mentorship from natural resources professionals and gain a deep connection to the tribal and federally‐managed lands that make up their ancestral homeland.

This program, which offers paid positions with education awards upon completion, serves to address a growing disconnect with wild places among tribal young adults, underrepresentation in conservation and land management careers, and a lack of opportunity to gain professional skills needed to enter the natural resources field. For decades, ONDA has worked to protect and restore culturally significant public lands, and ONDA recognizes that to improve the effectiveness of this work, we must deepen our relationships with tribes and embrace their priorities.

2022 projects

In 2022, Tribal Stewards will spend five weeks working across eastern Oregon on a range on projects, including: trail maintenance at John Day Fossil Beds, juniper abatement on Burns Paiute Tribe’s Denny Jones property, beaver dam analogue maintenance along Camp Creek in the Malheur National Forest, fisheries and native plant projects at Burn Paiute Tribe’s Logan Valley property, and fencing springs along headwater creeks of the Malheur River in the Malheur National Forest.

success

Spring Basin Wilderness

Spring Basin Wilderness

Spring Basin Wilderness

With 10,000 acres of undulating terrain, secluded canyons and spectacular vantages of the John Day Country, Spring Basin is magnificent to explore This public treasure, forever protected as Wilderness, offers a profusion of desert wildflowers in the spring and year-round recreational opportunities for hikers, horseback

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voices

Craig Terry, ONDA member and stewardship volunteer

Craig Terry, ONDA member and stewardship volunteer

“The people I have had the privilege to share time with each season keep me volunteering again and again. Who else but those ONDA staff leaders would make fresh coffee at dawn each morning or pack a watermelon all day to serve as a reward under a juniper in a steep canyon?” Craig, who grew up in northwestern Nevada, says ONDA connects him with places he loves and a mission he believes in. “My grandfather and his father put up wire fences for their ranching needs. Taking out barbed wire sort of completes a circle for me.”

voices

Cregg Large, member since 2009

Cregg Large, member since 2009

“I came to Oregon 12 years ago from Texas. Texas, for all its size, has very little public land. Coming to Oregon has made me realize the special gift we as Americans have in our public lands. Volunteering with an organization like ONDA is my way of reciprocating for this gift. Through restoration efforts, I feel we are helping leave a better place than we found it. Through advocating for protection for public lands, we safeguard migration routes for animals and keep the land where it belongs: with the public.”

Lace Thornberg

Sage Brown

Sage Brown   Website

Our Aim

To inspire tribal young adults to pursue careers in the conservation field while supporting the restoration of eastern Oregon wildlands.

Our intended outcomes include:
  1. Participants gain marketable career skills and forge new connections to place.
  2. Tribal members become better represented within the field of conservation.
  3. The on-the-ground work accomplished makes meaningful improvements to fish and wildlife habitat throughout Oregon’s high desert.