People Who Collaborate

Mark Chownng, the Aquatic Health Coordinator for High Desert Partnership, came to Harney County from Missouri where he studied biology and is currently completing his Masters of Natural Science from Southeast Missouri State University. Mark has worked in many locations in the Midwest including South Dakota, Nebraska, Missouri, Illinois and has spent a lot of time in everything from the swamps, lakes, large rivers and streams, and even down in caves studying a rare cave species. Despite all this time spent in dark, damp places, you won’t find a more outgoing, social guy. Read more.
Photo by Jeremy Hill,

Summer Technicians Gain Experience, Skills

High school and college students are getting real-world experiences in natural resource jobs and furthering the goals of the Harney Basin Wetlands Initiative through summer tech positions. "In his first week on the job as a vegetation monitoring technician for the High Desert Partnership, Tyrell Holmes cataloged plants and assisted with a carp biomass project on the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Holmes, who is from Eagle, Idaho, and just graduated from Treasure Valley Community College, is getting valuable hands-on experience that will assist him as he pursues his degree in fisheries at the University of Idaho." Read more.

Photographed by Jeremy Hill, the summer techs left to right: Mason Radinovich, a junior at Burns High School; Brett Friedrichsen, a Burns High School graduate who attends George Fox University; Tyrell Holmes, a Treasure Valley Community College student; John Short, the crew lead for plant monitoring who has a master’s degree from UC Davis in International Ag; Cody Collins, a Treasure Valley Community College student; and Chris Boyd, a Burns High School graduate who will attend the University of Oregon.

Tools In The Megafire Fighting Box

Summer is here in Harney County and with it comes the potential for wildfires. Megafires, fires that cover more than 100,000 acres, have become part of the new normal for firefighters across the west.

What is the best way to fight these huge fires that have the potential to threaten homes, property and lives? A collaborative effort that combines input from Rangeland Fire Protection Association members, federal, state and county employees, tribal members, conservationists, scientists and ranchers establishes an important channel of communication on which a foundation of trust can be built. Read more.
Photo of Pueblo Mountain by Autumn Larkins. Pueblo Mountain, a wilderness study area was selected for 26,400-acre pilot project to test decreasing the potential for and impacts of large-scale wildfires in Harney County.

Why Wildfires Have Gotten Worse

Excellent video from a TedX Bend event with Paul Hessburg guiding us through how forests and forest management has changed during the last 150 years and what we can do to create healthy, fire resistant forests.

Learn More About The Carp Study Project At Windmill Pond

Thursday, August 8, 1:00 pm Pacific, Abernathy Fish Technology Center's 2019 Directorate Fellow, Nicole Pauley, will give a presentation on: Assessing the effects of common carp on aquatic vegetation in Windmill Pond at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, using drone and remote sensing techniques.

Nicole's project supports an ongoing field study (Read, "How Many Carp Is Just Right? to learn more) at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge measuring the response of aquatic vegetation and water quality to different densities of nuisance common carp. The goal is to determine the biomass of carp below which submerged aquatic vegetation can persist and habitat conditions improve for native fish and wildlife species, and this "threshold biomass" can serve as a management target for suppressing the carp population in Malheur Lake.

If this presentation interests you, contact Marla Polenz at for call in information.

Planning & Dreaming

High Desert Partnership's staff and all volunteer board recently met for a day of planning in beautiful Diamond at Hotel Diamond. High Desert Partnership supports six Harney County collaborative efforts and the discussion this day was about how we best support the work of the collaboratives so they can positively impact the social fabric and economy of Harney County while maintaining and restoring our natural resources for working farms and ranches and habitat. As the days, weeks and months unfurl before us we look forward to sharing how our dreaming and planning will be brought to life.
Pictured left to right is: Executive Director Brenda Smith; volunteer board members Anna Gahley Dustin Johnson, Chad Karges, Dan Nichols and staff Marla Polenz, Becki Graham and Ben Cate. Not pictured: volunteer board members Fred Flippence, Kathy Rementeria, Donna Schnitker, Bruce Taylor, Jay Kerby and Adam Davis plus staff member Mark Chowning.

Upcoming Events   

Tuesday, August 13 | Harney County Restoration Collaborative Field Trip 
Saturday, August 17 | Malheur National Wildlife Refuge Annual Carp Derby
Wednesday, August 21 | High Desert Partnership Board Meeting
Tuesday, September 3 - Sunday, September 8 | Harney County Fair, Rodeo & Racemeet
Wednesday, September 11 | High Desert Partnership Board Meeting
Wednesday, September 18 | Harney Basin Wetland Initiative Collaborative Meeting
Thursday, September 26 | Harney County Wildfire Collaborative Meeting
Wednesday, October 9 | High Desert Partnership Board Meeting
Thursday, November 6 | Event at Oregon Historical Society Honoring 20 Individuals and their Contributions to Oregon, including Jack Southworth. The book A Generous Nature by Marcy Houle which features Jack and High Desert Partnership will be launched.
Thursday, November 14 | Wetland Conservancy's Wetlands & Willies Annual Event
Wednesday, November 20 | High Desert Partnership Board Meeting
Thursday, November 21 | Harney County Wildfire Collaborative Meeting
Wednesday, December 18 | High Desert Partnership Board Meeting

The Harney County Way

Reflections from The Harney County Way May 2018 Collaborative Summit.

You Can Be The Difference

Donate Today and Help Us Strengthen Harney County Through Collaboration. 
Click 'Make An Impact' below.
Consider leaving a gift to The High Desert Partnership in your will or trust so you can help 
Harney County's rural communities. You will help to protect the social fabric, economy and natural resources of Harney County for years to come. Contact for information.
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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.
Thanks to The Ford Family Foundation for adding Sagebrush Collaboration to their Select Books program. Select Books is an amazing program providing resources to educate and help us make a difference in our communities. If you live in Oregon or Siskiyou County, CA "you may order one copy of this book at NO CHARGE if you provide feedback about it."
Also, books can be purchased through Oregon State University PressThe Duck Store and Amazon

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