People Who Collaborate

A soul filled with wanderlust and a big heart for kids, meet Donna Schnitker. Donna is the Director of Early Childhood programs for the Harney Education Service District, is the President of the Oregon Head Start Association and sits on the Early Learning Council representing Head Start, Early Intervention/Early Childhood Special Education and the Early Learning Hubs. Donna has been working in early education for close to 30 years and is driven by giving kids and families with limited resources or disabilities the opportunities they need to thrive in school. “It’s so rewarding to watch children and their parents move the dial to where they didn’t think they could go.” Read more . . .
Photo provided by Jeremy Hill,
Where We've Been & Where We're Going

A lot can happen in a year and when you're contributing to the work of Harney County collaboratives, there is a never ending to-do list and lots of conversations to have. Amidst our days of 'doing' each of our ecological collaboratives took a beat to reflect on the past year and look ahead to anticipated projects and hopes for 2019.

Harney Basin Wetland Initiative (HBWI)

You can feel the excitement with this group for what has been accomplished and what is in store for the coming year as efforts to manage the Harney Basin Pacific Flyway region move forward for both birds and people who own and manage land that surrounds the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
This past year HBWI coalesced into a unit around the strength of working together with science uncovering stories about conditions in the basin (an Aquatic Health Summit kicked off 2018 with discussions about what the science is telling us about Harney Basin) and progress being made on a systems model for restoration strategies for Malheur Lake. 
In addition to science, landowners vested in the management of the region are sharing their experience and knowledge of the land. The combination of science plus people listening and talking with each other is making it possible for existing projects to evolve and new ideas to emerge for how to address ecological, social and economic challenges in the basin. Find the most recent information about HBWI and research in the basin here.
Throughout 2019 we look forward to sharing with you the science of the region as well as opportunities to get out and explore the Harney Basin Pacific Flyway region and see for yourself its value for migratory birds, cattle and local landowners. 
Photo by Peter Pearsall.

Harney County Restoration Collaborative (HCRC)

Sitting down with this group and reflecting on the past year you hear folks talk about their gratitude for the open conversations this collaborative has and how this dialogue is making a difference on the ground toward building a healthy sustainable southern Malheur Forest for both recreation and budding industry. 

Prescribed fire is one tool being used and is making a difference with forest health. This collaborative group is excited about reaching consensus on prescribed fire common ground principles that guide why, how and when prescribed fire is utilized. HCRC has common ground principles for 14 areas of forest management and operations of the collaborative, prescribed fire is just one. Updating these principles is an ongoing project as of late to ensure the principles reflect the views and concerns of the group and set a strong foundation of the collaborative's stance on specific issues. 
In addition to prescribed fire this group has made great progress with a hazardous fuels reduction project (Rattlesnake Project) that will put forth a program for reducing hazardous fuels on the ground. Hot off the digital press is this interactive map with multiple details of what this project entails. The collaborative is looking forward to early 2019 and moving this project forward quickly. 

With the health of the forest comes industry opportunities. HCRC is actively searching for means to feed the Harney County economy possibly with niche market opportunities, like biomass, while leaving the door open to industry that may unveil itself as research and discussions continue. A great example of this is the Soldier Creek Farm Bill which made it possible to fast track 3000 acres of commercial harvest timber within the Rattlesnake Creek project area as a result of a serious insect outbreak. Thanks to this farm bill logs will be coming off the forest early in 2019 before too many are lost to this insect outbreak.
As 2019 begins in a few weeks we're looking forward to sharing how projects move forward and how the vision of this collaborative shapes the health of the southern Malheur Forest.

Harney County Wildfire Collaborative

The participants in this wildfire collaborative would tell you that having the opportunity to meet with a diverse group of people interested in improving fire management in the 'sagebrush sea' is a tremendous asset to Harney County.
Rangeland Fire Protection Associations (RFPA's) and their relationships with government agencies like the Bureau of Land Management continues to improve and their work on the ground with early fire detection and suppression is valued and actively supported with tools and resources.
Add to this is the ability for all of us to help with early fire detection. If you haven't 'bookmarked' this page yet please do so and add your eyes to the many who can help spot fires early. These fire detection cameras are truly making crowdsourcing fire detection a reality.
In 2019 this collaborative is anticipating reaching an agreement and finalizing an environmental assessment for the southwestern flanks of the Pueblo Mountains. These efforts could reduce fuel structure in a Wilderness Study Area, an achievement that has not been done before and is thanks in large part to the strength of strong, trusting relationships built over time. 
The location and approach with the next large fire prevention project will move forward in 2019 as well. As this effort comes together we look forward to gathering as many of you as are willing to participate with your knowledge and viewpoints.
In the meantime, we'll keep you updated with the work of the Harney County Wildfire Collaborative and efforts to prevent mega-fires and restore sagebrush rangeland.
Photo provided by Jeremy Hill,

Special Event

SAVE THE WEEKEND & mark your calendar for April 11-14
Photo of a golden-crowned kinglet by Peter Pearsall

Upcoming Events

Thursday, December 13 | Youth Changing The Community Committee Meeting
Wednesday, December 19 | High Desert Partnership Board Meeting
Wednesday, January 16 | High Desert Partnership Board Meeting
Thursday, January 17 | Harney County Wildfire Collaborative Meeting
Tuesday, February 5 | Harney County Restoration Collaborative Meeting
Wednesday, March 20 | Harney Basin Wetlands Initiative Collaborative Meeting 
Thursday-Sunday, April 11-14  | Harney County Migratory Bird Festival

Sagebrush Collaboration

A heavily researched story by professor and author Peter Walker of the strength and resilience of Harney County as the community faced a challenge it could have never anticipated.
It's been 3 years since the Bundys and their followers entered Harney County and disrupted life in this rural, tight knit county. This book revisits those days and how decades of collaboration lead to a community rejecting a revolution in favor of working together as it has done for many years. 
If interested, books can be purchased through Oregon State University PressThe Duck Store and Amazon

Active Hope

"Active Hope is a practice. Like tai chi or gardening, it is something we do rather than have. It is a process we can apply to any situation, and it involves three key steps. First, we take in a clear view of reality; second, we identify what we hope for in terms of the direction we’d like things to move in or the values we’d like to see expressed; and third, we take steps to move ourselves or our situation in that direction." ~Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone
Active Hope is a requisite of collaboration and comes through in a passion for working with others that makes collaborative work possible.
Photo provided by Jeremy Hill,
You can be the difference!
Donate today and help us strengthen Harney County through collaboration. 
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