You’re invited! June 9th Celebratory Campout to Walton Lake

Karen Coulter, our Director, with old growth fir at Walton Lake

You’re invited! Join us for Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project’s celebratory campout  at Walton Lake in the Ochoco National Forest on June 9th.

What’s the celebration for? Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project and our dedicated attorneys recently stopped the Forest Service from logging the old growth forest at Walton Lake— for the second time! We are inviting people to learn about and enjoy this ecologically important and unique area with us, and celebrate that the forest around the lake is still standing.

Mating damselflies at Walton Lake

Karen Coulter, our Director, will be leading a walk during the day on June 9th around Walton Lake. We will enjoy the views  around the lake that BMBP saved from logging, and Karen will discuss how we stopped the timber sale. Other topics will include the ecology of the area, and current threats to the forest.

Tom Buchele with old growth fir at Walton Lake

The Forest Service had planned to log all of the fir trees (including magnificent large old growth firs) and other large trees that form the scenic backdrop for Walton Lake. Walton Lake is located in the Ochoco Mountains in central Oregon, northeast of Prineville, and is the most popular recreation area in the Ochoco National Forest. The Lake is a very popular recreation area because of the lake itself, its old growth trees, a developed campground, and its scenic beauty and abundant wildlife. A trail and paved road around the lake are abutted by numerous old growth Ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, Grand fir, and Western larch. South and east of the Lake an unusual (for central Oregon) stand of old growth fir provides both the scenic backdrop that is featured in many pictures of Walton Lake and excellent habitat for wildlife species that favor old growth forests. Many of these old growth firs are more than 3-4 feet in diameter.

More details:

When? The walk will take place mid-day on the 9th. There will be a potluck dinner and a campout on the evening of the 9th. Breakfast will be served on the morning of the 10th. We are planning to be out of the campground by 11am on the 10th.

Bee with wildflowers at Walton Lake

BMBP will be camped at Walton Lake starting 2pm on Friday  the 8th. People are welcome to join us to relax, enjoy the scenery, and swim starting on the 8th. However, there are no organized activities taking place on the 8th. All planned activities such as the walk and group meals will take place on the 9th and the morning of the 10th.

Where? We will be camping in the Walton Lake Recreation Area in the Ochoco National Forest. Limited spaces are available at our group campsite, so please let us know as soon as possible if you’d like to camp with us at the group site.  Individuals may need to reserve private campsites once the group site spaces are taken. We will also have a dispersed campsite outside of the designated recreation area where people are welcome to join us. 

Please call us for more details if you are interested. You must RSVP if you want to stay at the group campsite (there is limited availability). We are not requiring an RSVP if you plan to reserve your own campsite or staying in a dispersed campsite outside of the designated recreation area. However, it is very helpful if  you RSVP to let us know if you are planning to attend. Contact us at 541-385-9167 or at

We highly recommend traveling into the campground area along National Forest Rd 22 to & 2220. This road is paved and well maintained. The road that approaches the campground from the north (Old Ochoco HWY/NF-2210) is more confusing and may not be paved along the entire route.

Additional directions:

GPS Info. (Latitude, Longitude):
44.43306, -120.33667
44°25’59″N, 120°20’12″W

From Prineville, Oregon, take Highway 26 east for 16 miles. Turn right at the junction to Walton Lake and Big Summit Prairie (County Road 23) and travel 9 miles to Forest Service Road 22. Turn left and proceed approximately 7 miles to Walton Lake. The campground will be on the left.

In the successful effort to save the old growth forest at Walton Lake, Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project was represented by Tom Buchele, the Co-Director of the Earthrise Law Center at Lewis & Clark School of Law in Portland, and Jesse Buss, whose law office is located in Oregon City. 

Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project is a grassroots ecological protection group based in Eastern Oregon that monitors agency plans for the Ochoco, Deschutes, Malheur, Umatilla, and Wallowa-Whitman National Forests, as well as the expansive Prineville and Vale Bureau of Land Management Districts.

Female Red-winged blackbird at Walton Lake

Earthrise Law Center is the domestic environmental law clinic at Lewis & Clark Law School that provides legal training for future public interest lawyers and legal representation for not-for-profit environmental protection groups like the Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project.

Jesse Buss is a graduate of Lewis & Clark Law School and was enrolled in Earthrise while he was a student.  After he graduated in 2012, Mr. Buss opened his own law firm in Oregon City and now has a successful general law practice that includes public interest environmental law.

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