Be sure to check back regularly to get our latest news updates.
With over 70 percent government-owned and -managed land, Harney County is no stranger to disputes between ranchers, federal wildlife employees, and environmentalists. In many ways, the 2016 occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge (MNWR) by Ammon Bundy and his followers was the culmination of years of conflict and seemingly nonstop litigation. However, that national news story obscured the more important local story of how people in Harney County have been working to successfully resolve conflicts through collaborations like the High Desert Partnership. Click the title above to read more.
"In the opening pages of his book, Walker announces his goal to be showing how Harney County, faced with a divisive invasion, chose not to fall on its own knives. Instead, residents elected "sagebrush collaboration." It was also the author's goal to attempt "to explain how and why Harney County made that decision." He has achieved those helpful purposes -- and more." ~Richard W. Etulain
On the night of Jan. 26, 2016, Brenda Smith was nearing the end of a six-hour drive home from the Portland area to Burns, in Harney County, Oregon, basking in the knowledge that her scrappy nonprofit had just won a $6 million grant. The High Desert Partnership helps locals collaborate on natural resource management, and this was by far the biggest grant it had ever received. Read more . . .
Youth Changing The Community's skate park project is moving right along. Learn more about how the project is progressing in this Burns Times-Herald article.
This article focuses on Forest Service land in Arizona, but it speaks to the universal challenges that face prescribed fire despite the many benefits to the landscape.
In 2014, Harney County Restoration Collaborative held a science and economic summit, and one of the outcomes was the development of a biomass district heating system that could be used by local facilities in Burns. The system not only reduces green house gas emissions, but also uses low-value forest residuals that are generated from local restoration projects. A few days ago, the system became community owned! Check out the article below to learn more about this awesome biomass system.
In the 1930s the Forest Service took panoramic photos from every fire lookout in Oregon and Washington. The project's goal was to increase the effectiveness of fire suppression by providing a communication aid between fire lookouts and ranger stations. Now over 80 years later the photos are an invaluable record of the effects of management on ecosystems across the Pacific Northwest. Several of these fire lookouts are located on the southern Malheur National Forest. These fascinating photos provide a great perspective on how fire suppression has changed the landscape. Check them out!
We recently received a generous donation from Rita Poe, that will support the work of Harney Basin Wetlands Initiative on the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Rita's generous donation to Malheur and other public lands will allow future generations to enjoy the places she cherished. You can read Rita's interesting story below.
Iron Triangle, a Harney County Restoration Collaborative partner, is opening two new facilities in John Day and Seneca and will create at least 10 new jobs. The facilities will utilize low-value vegetation from the Malheur National Forest. Initially the facilities will produce posts, poles and chips, but may eventually manufacture torrefied products
This 60 Minutes piece highlights some of the same points that Dr. Hessburg brought up in his Era of Megafires presentation in April. You can watch the video or read it as an article!
Thinning trees can be very beneficial. Read to learn more.
Great news for forest restoration efforts across the state of Oregon! The new bill will create value for the woody biomass currently being created through restoration projects.
Hot off the press! Our executive director Brenda Smith and newest board member Dan Nichols are in this article about public lands in the New York Times. Check it out!
On a recent visit to Harney County Oregon Governor Kate Brown met with our board members and participated in the youth initiative meeting being held that day. Amanda Preacher with Oregon Public Broadcasting covered Governor Brown's visit. You can listen to the story by clicking on the link above.
This article written by Harney Basin Wetlands Initiative (HBWI) partner Chris Colson discusses the benefits of flood irrigation for both birds and ranchers. Chris works with ranchers to help improve flood irrigation infrastructure in Harney Basin, which has been identified as a priority by HBWI partners. This article will give you perspective on why we believe flood irrigation is so important for the basin and its inhabitants.
In November, an Alaska Airlines flight flew from Seattle to Washington D.C. using 20% renewable biofuel made from forest byproducts in the Pacific Northwest. If this biofuel can continue to be developed and obtained at a lower cost, it has the potential to lower greenhouse gas emissions from flights significantly.
The NEPA process can be long and complex. This article does a good job explaining NEPA in simple terms. It also discusses an effort by the Ochoco, Umatilla, and Wallowa-Whitman National Forests to expand forest restoration efforts. The current rate of forest restoration isn't sufficient on many forests to keep up with forest growth and adequately decrease the risk of large, destructive fires. If successful, this could become a model that other forests use to increase the rate and scale of restoration.
Cross-laminated timber, or CLT, could help struggling forest communities across the United States. Harney County Restoration Collaborative partner D.R. Johnson is one of two companies in the US making this product currently. Read the article to learn about the challenges facing and exciting possibilities of their timber product.
A newly published study examined more than 400 years’ worth of information on wildfire behavior in the Sierra Nevada and compared it with temperature and moisture data. But it turned out that climate was not the biggest influencer of fire behavior.
Months after the Bundy insurrection rocked Harney County, Oregon, a group of local residents is trying to heal the community and overcome the American West’s long history of land-use conflict. Their secret: Bring cowboys and conservationists together.
This fall partners from the Harney County Restoration Collaborative and Harney Basin Wetlands Initiative worked together for two days to eradicate carp from the tributaries of Malheur Lake. Click on the link above to read more about the experience.
Our board members are always improving themselves, which improves our organization. Board member Kathy Rementeria recently completed a three day course that will bring more knowledge and insight to our organization.
Our communications coordinator will be attending a two day training this weekend on collaboration and facilitation. Read to find out more.
The Forest Service silverculturist is leaving, but his impact will be lasting.
Jack Southworth, facilitator for the Harney County Restoration Collaborative, received a prestigious award from the Forest Service National External Range Management Award. His ranch, Southworth Brothers Ranch, was nominated for their "continued commitment to sound management, their passion for public rangelands, and their involvement in the numerous different public projects." Read the article below from the Blue Mountain Eagle to learn more about the Southworth's ranch and their commitment to sustainability!
NPR's EarthFix created a short video about what led to the creation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge: bird plumage!
An interesting read shared by Intermountain West Joint Venture, one of our partners in the Harney Basin Wetlands Initiative (HBWI). One of HBWI's goals is to enhance wetlands in Harney Basin through flood irrigation.
This article discusses how the Harney Basin Wetlands Initiative came to exist and the work being done to improve waterbird habitat.
"The Resilient Federal Forests Act would allow the Federal Emergency Management Agency to transfer disaster funding to the Forest Service and BLM when they have exhausted their firefighting budgets, rather than borrow the money from other programs. The bill would also expedite forest thinning projects up to 15,000 acres if they are planned by collaborative groups."
A win-win for forest collaboration if this bill is passed!
Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell discusses collaborative efforts in the west, particularly those involving sage grouse, and references the High Desert Partnership has "a 'model' for how things should work." Exciting to be cited by Sally Jewell for our work!
Oregon’s Malheur National Wildlife Refuge grabbed headlines earlier this year when it was seized by armed militants protesting federal control of local lands. But for the past decade, some local ranchers have been striving to find common ground with environmental groups and refuge officials, and important strides have been made for birds and cows. Special correspondent Cat Wise reports.
Restoration Field Tour with USDA undersecretary and the USFS regional forester
Robert Bonnie, USDA undersecretary, and Jim Pena, Forest Service regional forester, met with Emigrant Creek Ranger District employees, county officials, and the High Desert Partnership to see the restoration work on the southern Malheur Forest that has resulted from the efforts of the Harney County Restoration Collaborative. The group spent half of a day driving around to different restoration areas on the southern Malheur Forest. See photos from the tour in our photo gallery.
A story produced by KOIN 6 featuring our executive director and board members.
Land management professionals from around the world will be visiting the Malheur National Forest in May as part of the International Seminar on Forest Landscape Restoration. Jack Southworth, the facilitator for Harney County Restoration Collaboration, will be presenting to the group to share the experiences and successes of HCRC over the past 8 years.
Oregon is thought of as an ideal location to study land management because it provides examples of long-term restoration projects across a mosaic of land uses, that cover a wide range of ecosystem services and bring together diverse and sometimes conflicting interest groups. You can find out more about the seminar below.
We are pleased to announce that our Regional Conservation Partnership Program proposal was selected for funding! Both the High Desert Partnership and Harney Basin Wetlands Initiative will be receiving funding to protect wetlands habitat. At-risk species habitat, water quantity, and drought resource concerns will be addressed by strategically utilizing Farm Bill programs and partner contributions to enhance wet meadow habitats and improve the resiliency of working ranchlands to drought.
Exciting News! The Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB) voted today to allocate more than $1.6 million to support the Harney Basin Wetlands Initiative (HBWI)! This funding set-aside represents the down payment on a proposed 6 year, $6 million commitment to HBWI. The funding will be used to control carp that have destroyed the historic marshes in Malheur Lake and work with ranchers to maintain and improve flood irrigation on private lands that provide habitat for millions of migrating birds and forage for livestock grazing. We want to thank all of our partners for their time and energy spent in making this happen! Although stakeholders do not always agree on every issue, they have worked hard to listen, learn from one another, and to find very significant opportunities to move forward together. This is the spirit that we hope will continue to guide efforts in Harney County moving forward. Click on the link above to go to our press release.
A great article by the Oregonian that discusses an important part of the Harney Basin Wetland Initiatives' efforts to restore Malheur Lake. This innovative solution to a problem that started in the 1920s has the potential to help the environment and our local economy.
The High Desert Partnership is dedicated to solving issues through a collaborative process and we do this without taking a stand in issues. That being said we do want to share stories that discuss the work we are doing. This Seattle Times article talks about the important relationships being built between various stakeholders as they "find common ground on how to manage the nation’s public lands."
Through continuous conversations with the community, local groups, and the Forest Service, everyone was able to come to agreement on which roads should remain open and which needed to be closed in some areas on the Emigrant Creek Ranger District. Read more to find out about the work the Harney County Restoration Collaborative is doing.