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Harness a Little Bit of Your Stoke to Make Central Oregon a Better Place to Live 

Making Central Oregon a better place to live; Bright ideas for a changing community

click to enlarge ALEX JORDAN
  • Alex Jordan

Making. /'mkiNG/ (noun): The act of causing or doing.

Do you enjoy the vast expanse of public lands just beyond the edge of town? Whether your roots extend back generations or you are part of the pandemic-driven Zoom Town migration, living within minutes of such incredible public lands brings a rich quality of life to many in Central Oregon.

But as science writer Ethan Linck described in his 2018 High Country News essay, "Your Stoke Won't Save Us," one's passion for outdoor recreation—be it hunting, hiking, mountain biking, mushroom gathering or Christmas tree chasing—does not always predict their level of engagement in protecting those very same deserts, forest, rivers or mountains that feed their passion.

So, how do we make Central Oregon a better place? Harness a little bit of your stoke. Use some of that energy or a smidge of that inspiration drawn from your favorite canyon, creek or crag and put it to work making sure you nurture the very same landscapes that nurture you. Make sure these rivers, forests, canyons and deserts, complete with their biological diversity, clean water and cultural importance, persist forever.

Pause for a moment to hand-write a heartfelt letter to your Senator or Representative advocating for conservation. Share your thoughts and values with those who manage public lands, waters and wildlife. Join a conservation organization. Whatever you do, contribute. Participate. Make Central Oregon a better place by being a force for good in conserving the public lands that help make this community so extraordinary.

—Ryan Houston is Oregon Natural Desert Association's executive director. He has 20 years of experience working in conservation, and at least as much experience exploring the desert streams and wide-open landscapes of Central and Eastern Oregon.

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