June Newsletter
June Newsletter

People Who Collaborate

Brianna Goehring is High Desert Partnership’s first Coordinator for its Shared Science and Monitoring Program: “I’m here to help the Harney County Wildfire Collaborative, the Harney Basin Wetlands Initiative and the Harney County Restoration Collaborative explore the information gaps between what they think they want to do on the ground and what the science suggests about the outcomes of those actions. In other words, I’m here to coax out the monitoring and science needs of our collaboratives. I also train and manage HDP’s seasonal field crews that collect the vegetation field data in answer to those needs.” READ MORE.

Pueblo Mountain Pilot Study Next Steps

Fall of 2019 a megafire prevention pilot project, a product out of the Harney County Wildfire Collaborative, began in the Pueblo Mountains with prescribed fire, herbicide treatments, road building and mowing of a road buffer. The next step of this pilot study is monitoring the effects of these actions on vegetation. This is where Brianna Goehring (profile above) and a crew of high school and college students from Harney County, all Burns High graduates, will get to work this month. 
The crew will be estimating the abundance of different plant species, including desirable perennial bunchgrasses, invasive annual grasses, and sagebrush, and estimating the amount of ground cover (such as live vegetation, dead vegetation or litter, and bare ground). The purpose of those data are to help determine if the prescribed fire, herbicide, and mowing treatments in the road buffer had the intended effects on the vegetation. Those collected data will be shared with the Harney County Wildfire Collaborative to help evaluate effectiveness of the actions taken last fall and help determine next steps. 
Photo by Jeremy Hill of Burns Helitack member, Walter Riley blacklining the East side of the Pueblo Mountain burn unit September 2019.

Supporting Our Rural Economy

It's not easy being a small business right now and for that reason and many others we're thankful for several people who are working to help Harney County businesses navigate federal assistance programs and keep their businesses going as we live with COVID-19 restrictions. Special thanks to Andrea Letham with the Treasure Valley Community College Small Business Center; Denise Rose and Greg Smith with Harney County Economic Development; Lola Johnson with Harney County Chamber of Commerce and Brad Attig with Foundry Collective.
These four are working one-on-one with business owners and participating in, and in Brad's case creating, programs to help small businesses during this time and into the future. While doing this work they're also volunteering with the BizHarney Collaborative, along with many others, as we work together to determine how as a collaborative unit, we can support the rural economy of Harney County.
One effort kicking off soon is a virtual workshop series, Whatever It Takes, this 5-part online workshop series was specifically developed for small businesses in rural communities and will help them to discover how customer's needs have changed during this trying time and how to better adapt to those new needs. If you're a small business owner, watch this overview session to see if this workshop could be a fit for you.

Congratulations Dr. Pearson!

James Pearson, a Fish Biologist at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and an instrumental member of the Harney Basin Wetlands Initiative has successfully defended his PhD in Fisheries Science from Oregon State University.
Dr. Pearson passed with “exceptional” remarks that were unanimous across his graduate committee. The word is that Dr. Pearson impressed the committee with the "depth, breadth, and complexity of his work, and most importantly how much it has transformed our understanding of a decades-long restoration challenge in Malheur Lake."
We are incredibly thankful for the intellect and hard work Dr. Pearson brings to the work of the Harney Basin Wetlands Initiative and excited that he has reached this milestone with his education.
Congratulations Dr. Pearson!

Local Agency Offers Landowners Assistance With Conservation Projects

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has been helping America’s private landowners and managers conserve their soil, water and other natural resources since 1935. 

Zola Ryan, District Conservationist with the NRCS office in Hines, shares, the agency has a strategic approach to conservation. There are five areas of focus or priority in Harney County: aquatic health, Medusa head management, juniper encroachment, riparian condition and groundwater availability. These priorities are formulated through a local workgroup that meets annually. Private landowners, conservation groups, state and federal agencies and others offer input on what the priorities should be for the next five to 10 years. For each of the five priorities, NRCS creates a conservation implementation strategy, which is basically a detailed plan for a specific issue. READ MORE.
Photo by Susan Doverspike.

Working Together Continues

You're looking at a fuzzy picture of 25 of the 30+ people who 'zoomed' or called in for the May 21 Harney County Wildfire Collaborative meeting.
There is nothing like in person meetings but we're thankful for the ability to connect through the wires and move projects forward that are aiming to reduce megafire risk in Harney County. Many thanks to all the volunteers who took several hours from their day for conversation and problem solving.

Prescribed Fires Paused

The tentacles of the COVID-19 virus reach far and wide and another place its impact is being felt is in our forests. Per the U.S. Forest Service they are "pausing all spring prescribed fire efforts on national forest lands across the states of Oregon and Washington."

“We care deeply about our communities across the region and didn’t want to risk introducing smoke from prescribed fire into communities that may be affected by COVID-19,” said John Giller, Director of Fire and Aviation Management for the Pacific Northwest Region of the USDA Forest Service. “With this pause, we can better protect those who may also be in higher-risk groups for COVID-19, such as the elderly and those with underlying respiratory conditions.”    

"While frequent, low-intensity fire is essential to the long-term health of many northwest forests and communities, employee and public safety remains the top priority. The Forest Service Pacific Northwest Region contains 17 National Forests, a National Scenic Area, a National Grassland, and two National Volcanic Monuments, all within the States of Oregon and Washington."


While we're staying home, spring is here and summer is nipping at our heals 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.

Experiencing Harney County's Natural History

Events are planned by Portland Audubon's Eastern Oregon Field Coordinator, Teresa Wick.
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.

Shop Harney County!

Spark Mercantile is a new online marketplace supporting local Harney County makers making it possible for their goods to be purchased from far and wide while helping to create economic opportunity in Harney County.
Click SHOP below to see what's in the store.
 2020 Upcoming Events 
Wednesday, June 10 | Harney Basin Wetlands Initiative Collaborative Meeting
Wednesday, June 17 | High Desert Partnership Board Meeting
Thursday, June 18 | Harney County Wildfire Collaborative Meeting
Wednesday, July 15 | High Desert Partnership Board Meeting
Wednesday, August 19 | High Desert Partnership Board Meeting
Thursday, September 17 | Harney County Wildfire 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 links and numbers.

Malheur Lake Airboat Tour

Feel the wind in your hair.

Reviving Malheur Lake

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