Volunteer opportunities with Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project:
Most of our volunteers participate in our summer field surveying program. Every summer, dozens of volunteers help us to field survey thousands of acres of timber sales on National Forests in eastern Oregon. The information we collect in the field is used as evidence in public comments, and in potential negotiations and litigation. We train volunteers in plant and wildlife identification, what to look for in proposed timber sale areas, map and compass orienteering, and other skills to help us stop or significantly modify logging in the Blue Mountains. You can read about this option further down this page.
There are of plenty of additional ways to contribute as well. Want to help with public outreach? BMBP is currently looking for a social media volunteer intern. Want to learn more about commenting on public projects? We will train you how in writing public comments and help you engage in our forest advocacy through the NEPA process. Skilled with photography or video? Help us promote and document BMBP. Love organizing? Volunteer with us in the field, then help us table or do a fundraising benefit. Involved with an organization that wants to learn more about forest ecology and work against ecologically destructive exploitation of public lands? Help us set up a speaking engagement. Think of what skills you have and unique ways you can help. Contact us at:
Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project
27803 Williams Lane
Fossil, OR 97830
Interning with BMBP
Please call at least 2 weeks in advance of arrival if you want to volunteer for our summer field surveying.
Skills We Teach:
Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project is seeking volunteer interns each summer, from June to the end of September, to participate in field surveying. You will be trained in native plant and wildlife identification, determining habitat condition, environmental law, how the Forest Service and other agencies operate, knowledge of ecological processes, map and compass orienteering, identifying effects of past logging, and what makes proposed logging so destructive. Most of your time field-checking will be spent in the forest, investigating areas of the forest included in proposed logging. Expect to work hike and survey for long days. Our work does not entail long backpacking or one-way hikes. We prefer interns to volunteer at least one or two consecutive weeks with us. No prior experience is necessary.
The Blue Mountains encompass vast and varied ecosystems, from moist meadows to rocky buttes. They will share with you a plethora of stars, choruses of coyotes, hooting of owls, and tappings of woodpeckers. Abundant and diverse wildlife live in the National Forests where we field check each summer. Interns commonly see elk, deer, coyotes, woodpeckers (including Pileated), various rodents, and a great variety of wild plants, mushrooms, and birds. You may meet with bobcats, badgers, porcupines, rattle (and other) snakes, frogs, and raptors, including eagles and goshawks. Black bears, cougars, and marten have also been seen.
Other attractions include the John Day River, local ponds, rock formations, fossils, Native artifacts (leave no trace), magnificent light shows, edible mushrooms (beware of the poisonous ones and learn to ID properly!), and medicinal and edible plants.
Natural Risks and Hazards:
Everything in which you participate is at your own risk. Natural hazards include: lightning, rattlesnakes, falling trees, ticks, poisonous mushrooms, sunstroke, hypothermia, and other potential dangers. So far every one of our interns has come out alive and well, but be prepared for a wide range of conditions, know your physical limits (let us know them too), and be responsible for yourself.
What You Need to Bring:
First, it is essential that you are self-sufficient with food and money for your own personal needs. Meals are usually cooked and shared cooperatively (we eat mostly vegetarian and often vegan), but everyone must contribute their fair share of food. If possible, bring your initial food supply with you and plan to resupply at 5-10 day intervals. Be aware that we usually are not near an organic food store or an establishment with vegan options.
You need your own camping gear, including sleeping bag, shelter (tent, tarp, hammock, etc.), water bottles, day pack, flashlight or headlamp, etc.. Be aware that temperatures can become freezing at night and sweltering in the day, so be prepared for temperatures in the range of 20 to 106 degrees F. Make sure to bring a pair of good, broken-in hiking boots and rain gear.
Remember what it takes to survive and be comfortable in the woods: food, water, shelter, warmth.
Helpful Things to Bring:
Hygiene items, sunscreen, a compass, a long, flexible wind-up tape measure (preferably a DBH tape), binoculars, a book to read in your free time, a notebook, and a camera. Food for hiking that you don’t have to cook is also helpful. Bringing your own vehicle, especially one with four wheel drive, is terrific, but not always necessary. If the group gets very large some volunteers may need to bring vehicles for transportation needs.
Living conditions will generally be whatever shelter you bring with you, such as a tent or tarp, as most of our time is spent in the forest. Cooking is generally done on a small propane stove and we eat wherever we are camping, or near our truck for lunch when we are out in the field. We expect fair and consistent help with dishes and keeping kitchen areas clean. We will only be near electricity and running water for very short amounts of time, when we head into town to resupply. We do have excellent spring water for drinking and we expect you to help in hauling water. We have a shovel for digging latrines for bathroom usage. Bring a headlamp or flashlight for lighting at night. We will be in high fire risk areas, so it is essential that there is great care with fire, including cigarettes. There is no smoking allowed in our vehicles. Alcoholism and drug abuse are not acceptable. Minor amounts of alcohol are all right.
We prefer that you do not bring dogs. Talk to us if this is a problem, as dogs may be allowed under special conditions. We have an underlying animal rights ethic but not all of us are vegan or vegetarian.
Weather out here is variable and you should come prepared for anything. For example, we’ve field-checked in snow in June. Here are some rough guidelines:
May-June: rainier, though a very beautiful time of year with lots of wild flowers.
July & August: usually hotter, up to 106 degrees F, but possible rain. High fire hazard.
Late July-September: typically hot and dry. High fire hazard. It may not rain at all. However, in late September is starts cooling considerably and may start snowing.
Lightning is most prevalent in June and July. High winds occur periodically and wildfires may occur in later summer, especially August.
How to contact us:
Call us first. We do not have a cell phone and can only access our voice mail when we are resupplying or on our land, every seven days or so. We would like to meet you in person first, if possible. Let us know of your planned arrival at least two weeks before you are able to come. If you don’t have a car, we can give you advice on how to arrange transportation and where we can pick you up when we talk to you. However, we are often not near a city with public transportation. We may be able to pick you up from Bend, where local buses from Portland, Salem, Corvallis, and other areas arrive. When you contact us prior to your arrival, we will be able to determine where and when we can pick you up.
To contact us, write or call us and we will generally get back to you within 1-2 weeks:
Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project
27803 Williams Lane
Fossil, OR 97830
We are always in need of funding to cover costs such as transportation, public outreach, litigation, and other project expenses. Please consider making a donation online or via mail. We also need field equipment such as cameras, binoculars, dbh forestry measuring tapes, and non-perishable food for hungry volunteers. Office supplies such as 100% post-consumer recycles or tree-free paper and refillable pens are also helpful.