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About the High Desert Committee

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Working to Protect and Conserve Oregon’s High Desert

Wildhorse Canyon

Wildhorse Canyon Steens Mountain
photo Borden Beck

The High Desert Committee (HDC)is a Conservation Committee of the Oregon Chapter of Sierra Club. The Committee works to protect and conserve the public wildlands in Oregon’s high desert administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Permanent protection for the Owyhee Canyonlands in southeast Oregon is a long-term priority for the High Desert Committee.

“Alone in the silence, I understand for a moment the dread which many feel in the presence of primeval desert. the unconscious fear which compels them to tame, alter or destroy what they cannot understand, to reduce the wild and prehuman to human dimensions.”

Edward Abbey

We just had a victory due to the Obama administration passing the Omnibus campaign, which set aside land in Spring Basin, Soda Mountain, and The Badlands for wilderness.

High Desert Committee History

In 1989 a group of individuals banded together with the initial goal of advocating for permanent protection for the millions of acres of Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs). We spent many years exploring each of the WSAs and along the way broadened our focus to include other management issues, but wilderness designation remains the core goal of our efforts.

Since 1989 the High Desert Committee has worked with BLM staff and local landowners in an effort to build bridges and find creative solutions to the challenges of conservation for our remaining public wildlands. Committee members participate in environmental coalitions and federally designated work groups, conduct informal environmental inventories of public land, review and write recommendations for land management plans, and lead trips to educate the public about Oregon’s high desert.

In 1999-2000 the HDC initiated a formal education campaign advocating for protection of Steens Mountain. Although Steens received a level of protection with the Protection Act, there remain ongoing decisions and controversies over how that protection is implemented.

Get Involved with the High Desert Committee

For more information about High Desert issues and what you can do to help, consider attending one of our monthly meetings held at the Oregon Chapter office on the first Wednesday of every month at 6:00 pm.

Joining one of our High Desert Outings and Trips to the desert is another way to become involved.