April Newsletter
April Newsletter

A Note From Executive Director Brenda Smith

Hi everyone. I hope our April newsletter finds you healthy and well. When we sent our March newsletter just a few weeks ago we had no idea how our world was about to change and now, here we are, events cancelled, plans shifting, virtual meetings, empty TP shelves and there must be a lot of bread making happening in Harney County as it's hard to find yeast on the grocery store shelves! It’s not an easy time for sure, sometimes it’s day-by-day and sometimes moment-by-moment for us here at High Desert Partnership but we are moving forward.

We are incredibly thankful for the High Desert Partnership community and everyone’s willingness to be nimble in this unprecedented time. March 18 and March 19 we had plans for the Harney Basin Wetlands Initiative meeting and the Harney County Wildfire Collaborative meeting to convene in Burns as usual with lots to discuss. Just a few days before those meetings we made the decision to shift to virtual meetings for everyone’s health and safety. And, so many of you shifted right with us with more than 20 partners at each meeting making it possible to move forward conversations and continue working together. Thank you partners and our gifted facilitators for your flexibility. We’re all in this together for sure.

As we move through this time we know it will come to end, we don’t know when, but we do know there is a horizon out there. We’re keeping hope alive here through our work. There is always lots to do and it’s through the projects that we’re engrossed in, that we’re thinking about and working on Harney County’s future. Life is disorienting right now but when doing this work, it’s helping us stay in a hopeful place. We hope you can see the horizon out there too.

As most of you have likely heard, the Harney County Migratory Bird Festival is cancelled. But, the birds don’t know that! The basin is filling with wet meadows and migratory birds. It’s a wonder every day as we here in Harney County move about the basin. We know for many of you, you can’t experience this in person this year so with our partners Portland Audubon, Friends of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and the organizers of the Harney County Migratory Bird Festival we’re sharing the basin with you through Harney@Home. You can follow @restoremalheur; @maheurfriends; @migratorybirdfestival and @highdesertpartnership for images, videos and tours of the basin. If you’re in need of a reminder of life continuing, we hope seeing the sights and sounds of the Harney Basin will help.

There is so much noise, distress and hard work in the world right now, for me, this quote helps and reminds me that there is at least one thing within my control right now: Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work, it means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart. ~annoymous

Wishing you all very well.

Wash Your Hands!

People Who Collaborate

The Harney Basin Wetlands Initiative is made up of a community of interesting people and Esther Lev is one of them. With roots in Cleveland, Ohio Esther has had adventures all around the world and with every adventure there’s a central theme: “It’s really been about developing relationships with the place, the birds, the wildlife, the plants, water and the people.” Read more.

Working Hard & Working Together

Over the last several years, High Desert Partnership (HDP) has worked to form a series of collaborative working groups to address various challenges that impact life in Harney County. In 2019, the National Policy Consensus Center, with funding from The Ford Family Foundation, partnered with HDP to create a best practices guide to inform and inspire other communities across the country to form their own collaboratives. Read more.
Photograph by Jeremy Hill of Janelle Wicks, Friends of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge Executive Director; Alexa Maritinez, Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and Brenda Smith, High Desert Partnership Executive Director listening during a Harney Basin Wetlands Initiative collaborative meeting.


While we're staying home, the birds are arriving in the Harney Basin. For those of you who can't witness this migration this spring in person. Follow us and our partners on Facebook and Instagram for the sights and sounds of spring in the Harney Basin. More below.
Facebook Instagram

Teen Entrepreneur Summit A Success

Local teens from Harney County’s Mentor Match Youth Entrepreneur Program traveled to Baker City March 6 to participate in the “First Ever Rural Teen Entrepreneur Summit.” The Summit brought together three teens from Harney County, and five teens from Wallowa County. Both groups are part of the Mentor Match Youth Entrepreneur Program, sponsored locally by High Desert Partnership under Executive Director Brenda Smith. Read more.
From left to right: Tom Boyd, Boyd Metal Works; Methius Barney, Newe Inspirations; and Mason Radinovich, One Rad Cookie Company.

Great News!

High Desert Partnership received $70,000 from Business Oregon through their Rural Opportunities Initiative. This grant will be put to use by the local working group BizHarney. Convened and supported by High Desert Partnership, BizHarney is a group of community members from government, the Burns Paiute Tribe, nonprofits and local businesses that is working together to foster economic opportunity in Harney County. These funds from Business Oregon will be put toward an 'Idea to Ownership' program which puts the "opportunity" in economic opportunity by providing Harney County entrepreneurs with training and services to help them open businesses and fuel the local economy. 
High Desert Partnership also received a $35,000 grant from the Wilburforce Foundation for general support to HDP and the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board awarded the Harney County Restoration Collaborative $50,000 to develop a strategic plan for Malheur National Forest restoration projects.  

Experiencing Harney County's Natural History

The events planned by Portland Audubon's Eastern Oregon Field Coordinator, Teresa Wicks, have been canceled through April.
The next event currently planned is May 9 with bird counting as part of Project IBiS.
Find the calendar of events here with the knowledge that future events could be cancelled to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Please check the calendar: Portland Audubon Harney County events before venturing out to an event or contact Teresa Wicks at twicks@audubonportland.org.
 2020 Upcoming Events 
TBD | Harney County Restoration Collaborative Meeting
Wednesday, April 15 | High Desert Partnership Board Meeting
Wednesday, April 29 | Harney Basin Wetlands Initiative Collaborative Meeting
Thursday, May 21 | Harney County Wildfire Collaborative Meeting
Wednesday, June 10 | Harney Basin Wetlands Initiative Collaborative Meeting
*Currently all meetings are virtual meetings that can be accessed via ZOOM Conferencing or a phone call. Contact Ben Cate at ben@highdesertpartnership.org for conferencing numbers.

For all of us 'zooming' . . . !

Reviving Malheur Lake

A short film about Malheur Lake, its current condition and what is being learned to help stage its revival.

You Can Be The Difference

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Consider leaving a gift to The High Desert Partnership in your will or trust so you can help 
Harney County's rural communities. Your donation will help create economic opportunity, healthy lands and water and maintain an enduring rural way of life. Contact info@highdesertpartnership.org for information.
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