We hear you:
Keep up the conservation wins!

Jim Davis

We hear you

The results of our most recent member survey

This fall, ONDA sent you, our members, a note with a question: what matters most to you?  Almost 500 of you responded to our member survey, our strongest response yet. Thank you!

Here’s what we learned.

You love Oregon’s high desert

Whether you have generations of family history in Oregon’s high desert or only visit it occasionally, the love for these lands was clear in your responses.

“The wild untamed natural beauty strengthens my spirit, clears my head, enhances my thinking.”

“I have a natural affinity for this land that is not explainable.”

“In this desert I can see “forever” and it smells like my home. Through those desert canyons and along the Owyhee River, it feels like home.”

“Oregon’s high desert is a place to roam far, breathe deep of sage-tinged and mountain mahogany-sweetened air and watch pronghorn race across volcanic grasslands.”


Or the simplest answer of all to our question of why you love Oregon’s high desert: “Why not?”

You also wanted to hear more conservation success stories about these landscapes across Oregon’s high desert, and, in 2020, we will deliver.

You describe ONDA as effective desert advocates

Five words filtered to the top of your responses to the question, “How would you describe ONDA to a friend?”: effective, dedicated, active, passionate, and inclusive.

As one supporter wrote, “ONDA’s voice is heard in the public lands debate on the national stage. I want my donation to amplify that voice and protect our public lands for plants, animals, and future generations.”

Another member described ONDA as, “one of the most well balanced and effective groups that I am involved with. I appreciate the efforts to make good use of volunteers, to engage the diverse voices in the communities, and to balance boots on the ground with suits in the halls.”

And since nearly a third of you became familiar with ONDA through a friend, family or ONDA staff or board member, we recommend continuing to pay it forward. Consider sharing a 2020 Wild Desert Calendar with someone who cares about the future of Oregon’s high desert.

You know that your ONDA membership supports the lands you love

A majority of you said your donation has a significant impact on furthering conservation in Oregon’s high desert. And after a year like 2019, with the introduction of bills to conserve the Owyhee Canyonlands and Sutton Mountain, we agree! These successes would not be possible without your continued support for these campaigns that are sometimes decades in the making.

And, as you know, protective designations aren’t the end of the story for our treasured public lands. You ranked ONDA’s most important programs as:

  • defending protected public lands, in special places like Steens Mountain, and
  • advocating for new conservation designations on public lands, and
  • restoring habitat for fish, wildlife and plant species.

Luckily for you—those are the core components of ONDA’s mission-driven work. As one member wrote, “Oregon’s high desert is a stunning landscape where there is still opportunity to conserve and protect lands from being forever altered by development and resource extraction.”

You want to keep learning

ONDA members appreciate life-long learning opportunities. Over 60% of you feel that your knowledge of public lands issues has grown “a great deal” or “a lot” since becoming an ONDA member.

The thirst for more educational opportunities was also apparent in your responses. We hear that you want to continue to learn about conservation science and the cultural history of desert lands. Many of you also want expert advice on new places to visit. Luckily, you can find all of these themes in our upcoming High Desert Speaker Series events in Bend and Portland.

Many of you emphasized a commitment to ONDA’s mission on involving our broadest community possible to conserve desert landscapes. We hear you, and that’s why we’re committed to work toward inclusive involvement for everyone who cherishes Oregon’s high desert.

As ONDA strives to be even more focused and effective in the coming year, we appreciate your feedback and continued commitment to speak up for public lands. And with even more work to be done to continue protecting Oregon’s most cherished landscapes from the John Day Basin to the Owyhee Canyonlands, we hope to keep celebrating conservation success with you!


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  


Stewardship Fence Building Timelapse

Stewardship Fence Building Timelapse


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.”

Thank you for all that you do!

Do you have other feedback that we missed? Email me with your thoughts today, and thank you for speaking up on behalf of Oregon’s treasured high desert lands.