That Darn Wind

We have shared previously that in addition to carp damaging vegetation in Malheur Lake, wind appears to be a culprit as well. In January the Malheur Lake Working Group held a summit to develop management alternatives with the recognition that carp control alone will not be sufficient to clear the lake's waters and it will most likely be a combination of actions that achieve our aquatic health goals. Some alternatives under consideration include different kinds of wind breaks (floating, permanent structures, vegetation, etc.), a system for managing water levels in Malheur Lake and various carp control methods. The alternatives developed wil be analyzed using the Malheur Lake systems model. This systems model took a step forward recently with the research of Dr. Tamara Wood and doctoral student James Person.
Thanks to funding from the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board's Focused Investment Partnership, Dr. Tamara Wood (United States Geological Survey) and doctoral student James Pearson (Oregon State University & U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service) are conducting research in order to determine the drivers of turbidity in Malheur Lake. Turbidity is a measure of water clarity in the lake and high levels of turbidity decrease light availability, which in turn inhibit growth of aquatic plants (muddy looking water rather than clear water). Thus the negative impact of turbidity in Malheur Lake have made this Pacific Flyway rest stop much less enticing for migratory birds due to a lack of food. Read more from James with the article: What Is Causing Malheur Lake Turbidity?

Harney County Wildfire Collaborative Update

The most recent meeting of the Harney County Wildfire Collaborative was August 19 and the partners and stakeholders met to discuss:
  • The Pueblo Mountain project is moving forward and a summary of fuel reduction plans will be released soon for public comment and input.
  • Following the July 19 meeting partners took a field trip to 5 sites in the Stinkingwater area east of Burns for evaluation of where the next pilot project may take place. The August 19 meeting provided the opportunity to discuss what everyone took away from that field trip and what next steps may be. While there are more questions to pose and possibilities to discuss the group is working toward a vision and plan as well as projects within that plan that will determine what to prioritize with this next pilot project.
  • Research conducted of how the Rangeland Fire Protection Association (RFPA) model put into practice the advantages that ranchers have for preventing fire. This research looked into how RFPA programs can best be structured to facilitate the collaborative effort of managing fire. Learn more about this work here. The funding for Rangeland Fire Protection Associations was also discussed and will continue as efforts for stable funding continues.
  • A fire report was provided and while there have been many small, mostly private fires that have been responded to, resources are being managed tightly should a large wildfire erupt in Harney County. But for now, the conversation led to how the various groups are working and communicating effectively together.
  • Early detection fire cams will be installed in Oregon and a few details and questions about this program were discussed. More to come as this program evolves with the addition of cameras located in Oregon.
    Find meeting summary notes here.

Harney County Restoration Collaborative Update

August 7 the partners and stakeholders with Harney County Restoration Collaborative met and discussed:
  • The Forest Vegetation and Fuels Monitoring Team from Oregon State is tracking the change in vegetation response to treatments like commercial timber harvesting, pre-commercial thinning and prescribed fire as well as the vegetation response to the Canyon Creek Wildfire that occurred in 2015. This OSU research team produced a report of their observations and the reports purpose and methods were discussed as well as the possibility of adding some new additions to the project like tracking bird species. This is a preliminary report and now the data collected will be analyzed to evaluate the methods tested for fire prevention and restoration.
  • Update on the season’s fire situation: notably the Energy Release Component (ERC) at Crow Flat Guard Station (ERC is a measurement of the available energy to feed a fire) is currently in the 97th percentile this year and approaching historically high numbers while moisture levels are historically low making for prime fire conditions. 
  • So far 7 fires have occurred in the Burns Interagency Fire Zone on US Forest Service land (4 in June and 3 in July). This discussion led to review of a document that outlines goals for forest conditions for the Emigrant Creek Ranger District and options to take for how to reach those goals. This working plan is in draft form and will be shared as the details come together. 
  • Update on revised Malheur National Forest Plan and how it will help HCRC bring about ‘healthy and resilient forests while providing social and economic benefits to the local community’, which is the common ground goal for HCRC. This plan is now past its objection phase and is working toward approval as soon as possible to ensure future decisions are based upon an agreed upon consensus.
    Meeting summary can be found here.


Come visit the High Desert Partnership booth for STEAM Camps, CARP TOSS, Airboat Ride Raffle and the chance to learn the latest about the initiatives High Desert Partnership supports.

Rural Skill Builders Workshop Comes To Town

A great leadership workshop sponsored by Rural Development Initiative coming up Friday, September 21 right here in Burns. A good line up including a presentation from Janet Soto, an Entrepreneurial Strategist with Business Oregon. All students can attend for free. Register and we'll see you there!

September Events

Thursday, September 4 - Sunday, September 9 | Harney County Fair, Rodeo & Racemeet
Tuesday, September 11 | Harney County Restoration Collaborative Meeting & High Desert Partnership Board Meeting
Friday, September 21 | Rural Skill Builder Workshop with special presentation from Janet Soto, Entrepreneurial Strategist with Business Oregon
Tuesday, September 25 | Harney County Wildfire Collaborative Meeting
Wednesday, September 26 | Malheur Refuge Comprehensive Conservation Plan Meeting 
Thursday, September 27 | Harney Basin Wetlands Initiative Meeting

Listening Muscle

Do you ever find yourself having a conversation and you realize your brain is thinking about what you want to say and you're not really hearing what is being said? Participating in a High Desert Partnership collaborative is a great way to develop your listening muscle. When people listen and people feel heard, progress happens.
You can be the difference!
Donate today and help us strengthen Harney County through collaboration. 
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