North Fork John Day Watershed Council: Community Focused, Landscape Reflected!

Eons ago, the mighty John Day River carved out a grand landscape that, today, provides a rich community of geology, plants, animals and people. The North Fork John Day Watershed takes pride in supporting the ecosystems and communities of this magnificent setting through restoration, education, landowner assistance and community service. We are a private non-profit organization that inspires awareness of the landscape and success of the people who call this landscape home.

We welcome you to become familiar with the sights and happenings here in the shadow of Oregon’s Blue Mountains. Learn about the ecology. View some of our restoration projects. Participate in our learning opportunities.

What’s Happening

Desolation Creek Habitat Enhancement Project

This project is located in the Desolation Creek sub-watershed, on lands owned and operated by Desolation Creek, LLC.  Elk migrating from high in the Blue Mountains to their protected winter range at Bridge Creek Wildlife Area, will soon encounter abundant rich forage and increased water supply.  In 2015, the North Fork John Day Watershed Council contracted the surveying of 450 acres of competing noxious weeds and the herbicide treatment of 58.45 acres.  The project integrates with a broad program of spring development, forage openings, fuels reductions, and wet meadow protection. Implementation made possible through funding by:  Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Blue Mountain Elk Initiative, and Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation.  


For other updates on projects, check out our projects link.




Native Species of the Week

Water Birch Tree (Betula occidentalis)

Photo Courtesy of Stan Shebs

A water birch tree is found along bodies of water because it prefers the moist soil found there. They are a medium-sized tree that can grow up to fifty feet tall. Its leaves are an elliptical shape.  Birch trees can live up to eighty years depending on the species, but the average lifespan is forty years old.  Interestingly, birch tree wood can catch on fire even when it is wet. The birch tree is the national symbol of Finland, where they use the leaves for making tea.  In Sweden, the sap is used as a sugar substitute.  In many Native American cultures, the bark from the birch tree was used to craft canoes.

Part of the poem “Birches” by Robert Frost

When I see birches bend to left and right

Across the lines of straighter darker trees,

I like to think some boy’s been swinging them.

But swinging doesn’t bend them down to stay

As ice-storms do. Often you must have seen them

Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning

After a rain. They click upon themselves

As the breeze rises, and turn many-colored

As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel.

Soon the sun’s warmth makes them shed crystal shells

Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust

(For more go to


Copyright © 2016 North Fork John Day Watershed Council