Editor's note: Conservation is baked into our DNA at Oboz Footwear where we plant a tree for every pair sold. We also appreciate all the hard work of the many people working on sustainable conservation solutions. When we learned about the new platform conserve.org we were intrigued. Turns out conserve.org is partnering with the Oregon Desert Land Trust, where one of our former ambassadors works, to implement an innovative approach to land conservation.
By Brent Fenty
Have you ever had fantasies about buying your own little swathe of wilderness? Like most of us who have trekked across the West, I’m guessing you have seen a “For Sale” sign out in the middle of nowhere and had at least a passing thought about snatching it up. A pairing of two new efforts have teamed up to do just this in the name of public lands and wildlife conservation.
Oregon's High Desert
If you aren’t already familiar with Oregon’s high desert, it contains some of the most expansive, unprotected wildlands in the lower 48. It is also home to the 750-mile Oregon Desert Trail which has been featured on the Oboz blog.
The region is home to incredible places like Steens Mountain Wilderness, the Wild and Scenic Owyhee River, and Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge. It also contains some of the largest populations of Greater sage-grouse and California bighorn sheep in the nation.
The region is home to vast areas of public lands that allow for hiking, biking, hunting, horseback riding and other recreation. However, there are also small chunks of private lands that can limit public access, stymie public lands protections or contain water sources that limit wildlife connectivity.
Oregon Desert Land Trust and Conserve.org
The recently-formed Oregon Desert Land Trust (ODLT) was formed to acquire such private lands to further conservation and restoration efforts in the region and maintain and facilitate access to public lands. Although the ODLT is just getting started, we were able to team up with another new effort - Conserve.org - to test out the idea of crowd-funding land acquisition just in time for the holidays.
The folks at Conserve.org have developed an interactive web platform that provides lovers of wide-open spaces with a way to further land conservation by contributing directly to buying private land that is critical to public lands conservation and wildlife connectivity.
Conservation via Technology
Through the site, you can look at Google Earth imagery as well as 360-degree photos taken by volunteers. Pick an acre to help conserve and make a donation for that specific parcel.
The first test of this new platform is a 160-acre parcel in the Burma Rim area. This land is part of a 90,397-acre block of wilderness-quality public lands that support the threatened Greater sage-grouse and pronghorn antelope, North America’s fastest land mammal. The parcel contains a seasonal water hole and supports a number of other species (read more at Medium).
A Thriving Landscape
During a day-long visit to take photos of the area last summer, volunteers saw mule deer, a coyote, rattlesnake, killdeer, a dozen wild horses, and a song sparrow nest full of eggs. As usual, these desert areas that often look devoid of life as we drive through them at 65 miles an hour reveal a lot of life when you take the time to wander through them.
A $47 tax-deductible contribution conserves one acre of land and your gift is matched 100% to cover the full purchase price.
If you buy an acre in a friend or family member's name, the site will provide the gift recipient with information about the conserved acre including interactive 360-degree photos.
To learn more, check out Conserve.org.
Brent Fenty is the Executive Director of the new Oregon Desert Land Trust (ODLT), founder of the Oregon Desert Trail, and lover of open space and wild public lands.