The 10 million-acre Central Oregon High Desert landscape is defined by its rivers, the rugged Deschutes, Crooked, John Day and Hood Rivers. These famed waterways flow eastward out of mountainous national forest land into the high desert plateaus around communities like Bend, Redmond, Madras and Prineville, before draining into the mighty Columbia River. These watersheds form a true "habitat stronghold" for steelhead and Pacific salmon, and provide internationally famous outdoor recreation opportunities like paddling, hiking, biking, hunting, and fishing.
The working lands across the Central Oregon High Desert landscape are of equal importance to its communities and its future, providing stability for the rural economy and a source of local food. Much of the land most prized for habitat and recreation is also working land. A successful landscape conservation effort here must successfully integrate these values.
We use Geographic Information System (GIS) to collect and map data relevant to our conservation objectives, such as river restoration and protection of key working lands, and then overlay property ownership data to identify lands most strategically aligned with these objectives. Our planning enables us to guide land protection project selection and design to maximize conservation benefits and address partners' conservation priorities where they overlap. We developed this tool after months of interviews with Federal and State agency partners and data collection to integrate the science, prioritization, and ranking processes that guide our public agency partners in conservation and restoration of this landscape.
Partners on this effort have included the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Oregon Department of Forestry, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Trout Unlimited, Oregon Natural Desert Association, Crooked River Watershed Council, Oregon Backcountry Hunters Association, American Whitewater, Wild Salmon Center, Oregon Wildlife Heritage Foundation, Friends and Neighbors of the Deschutes, and others.