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People Who Collaborate

Brandon Palmer, Oregon Desert Land Trust Regional Stewardship Lead

As the Regional Stewardship Lead with Oregon Desert Land Trust* (ODLT), Brandon Palmer's role is to coordinate management and stewardship activities on the properties that we conserve, which are spread throughout Southeast Oregon. “I also participate in and support regional efforts and partnerships that amplify ODLT’s work on-the-ground. This includes working with partners and volunteers on restoration projects on our properties, leading ecological monitoring efforts, conducting outreach, and facilitating collaborative partnerships with various entities. Most of my work, and ODLT’s as an organization, is focused on meeting the ecological objectives of Trout Creek Ranch, our largest conservation holding by far."

The work Brandon does doesn't lend itself to there being a typical day. Brandon does "spend significant amounts of time at Trout Creek Ranch, whether it’s for organizational events, conducting projects and monitoring, or site visits." Other days he may be at his desk taking care of paperwork like completing reports or applying for grants. There are also meetings to attend as well as field work to do plus visiting other ODLT properties around southeast Oregon. "My work often changes with the seasons, as I’ll typically be in the field more during the spring and summer months and in the office more in the winter months."

Brandon grew up in Michigan; "growing up, my family and I would go on vacations to various places around the country. My favorite vacations were always in the West. Spending time on public lands throughout the West, including in Arizona, Utah, Montana, and Wyoming, sowed the first seeds of my natural resources career. From that point forward, I knew I wanted to work in conservation. My natural resources education began when I obtained my Bachelor of Science degree in Fisheries and Wildlife at Michigan State University. Then after a year and a half of moving around from one seasonal position to the next, I moved to Texas in 2016. I focused my graduate studies on Northern bobwhite quail and its habitat at the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute, housed at Texas A&M University-Kingsville."

"I moved to Harney County in January 2020. Before then, I had never set foot in neither Oregon nor the Pacific Northwest. Upon moving here, I started a position as wildlife biologist for the Burns Paiute Tribe. I then became Wildlife Program Manager in 2022 before taking on my current role at ODLT in May 2023. After moving here, I stepped into what is, in my opinion, one of the most unique and overlooked ecosystems on earth, and one faced by a litany of challenges, most being large-scale. Through my work and recreation, I developed a deep appreciation for the sagebrush steppe and the many wildlife, fish, and plant species that inhabit this ecosystem. But it was the people and the collaboratives working to tackle the large-scale challenges facing this ecosystem that especially drew me. Witnessing the amount of collaboration taking place in maintaining the wildness of the landscape while maintaining working lands has opened my eyes to how effective these collaboratives can be. Harney County is an excellent case study. I am now married into a local ranching family, and I am blessed to be part of a family that lives off the land and has a strong appreciation for it. I am also blessed to be part of the community here in Harney County, a tight-knit community where most people are willing to give the shirt off their backs and have the resolve to tackle large challenges. I find it difficult to imagine living anywhere else."

Brandon views collaboration as a "major component" of his role with ODLT and has been involved with the Harney County Wildfire Collaborative and the Harney Basin Wetlands Collaborative throughout his time in Harney County. "These collaboratives are crucial as they bring many people and entities together with unique perspectives to the table. We at ODLT greatly value varying perspectives, and we feel that when we learn from different partners with different backgrounds, that will only help our efforts and others’ in meeting objectives."

"[ODLT] currently works with a diverse array of partners, including Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife, Bureau of Land Management, The Nature Conservancy, Portland Audubon, and neighboring ranchers. ODLT is heavily reliant on its partners to help meet our ecological objectives, especially on Trout Creek Ranch. It is through these partnerships that we can balance agricultural needs, natural resource and cultural values, and other interests. For me, I greatly enjoy working with people, as this is a way to better understand their perspectives and to come to a mutual understanding of how to address challenges we face."

Outside of work, time spent with family and outdoor adventures is how Brandon loves to spend his time. "Family is a tremendous gift that God has given me and I always value time with them. As for my hobbies, I enjoy just about everything outdoors, whether it be hunting, fishing, camping, or hiking. During the winter months, I enjoy snowshoeing and shed hunting. My spare time is also often spent helping the family out on the ranch as well as being involved in charitable work in the community. I am also heavily involved in the Catholic Church here in our community, and that has nourished my faith life and given me purpose for what I do."

*From the Oregon Desert Land Trust website: Oregon Desert Land Trust is a nonprofit based in Bend, Oregon. We work with land owners, land managers, Tribes and other partners to conserve high desert lands in the southeast corner of our state.