Volunteer in the Field!

BMBP’s volunteer field crew at the Sunrise timber sale in the Umatilla National Forest

Volunteering with BMBP during our summer field season

Please call at least two 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 early June to the end of September, to participate in field surveying. Volunteers are trained in native plant and wildlife identification, map and compass orienteering, and determining habitat conditions. We also teach volunteers about basic environmental policies, ecological issues, and current threats to public forests and streams in eastern Oregon. Most of our time in the field is spent in the forest, documenting conditions within proposed timber sales or grazing allotments. Field survey work includes all-day hiking and survey work. However, our work does not entail long backpacking or one-way hikes. We generally park in areas with vehicle access, and investigate timber sale units through day-hikes. We prefer interns to volunteer for at least one week in the field. No prior experience is necessary.

Lovely skylines abound

What You Need to Bring:
Volunteers must be 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 food for meals. 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.

Two PPs
Kyle, long-time BMBP volunteer, in a timber sale unit with mature Ponderosa pines

Volunteers must bring their 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. If you ask in advance of coming out to the field, we may be able to provide you with some gear while you are out in the field– but its is essential that you ask well in advance of arrival what gear may be available for loan.

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 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 extremely helpful, but not always necessary.

Living Conditions:
Living conditions will generally be whatever shelter you bring with you, such as a tent or tarp. 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. Eastern Oregon has excellent spring water for drinking, and we often request that volunteers help with hauling water if they are able. 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.

A hard-working BMBP volunteer enjoying food and a break after field surveying

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.

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. Be prepared for a wide range of conditions, know your physical limits (let us know them too), and be responsible for yourself.

Relic marveling at bear claw marks on sub-alpine fir in Upper Touchet timber sale, Umatilla National Forest

Natural Attractions:
The Blue Mountains encompass vast and varied ecosystems, from moist meadows to rocky buttes. They contain 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 survey 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.

How to contact us:
Call at least two weeks in advance of arrival, so that we have time to coordinate regarding our camp location and other essential details. During the field season, there may be a delay in communication, and so if you are able to coordinate with us more than two weeks in advance that is helpful. Not all of our employees or volunteers have cell phones, and cell phone coverage is often unavailable in the field.

If you don’t have a car, we can give you advice on how to arrange transportation and where we may be able to pick you up. Depending on where we are field surveying, we may be able to pick you up from nearby major cities (such as Bend or Pendleton), where local buses from Portland, Salem, Corvallis, and other areas arrive.

Sara and Grace in the Willoughby timber sale

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

(541) 385-9167

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.



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