Oregon Dept. of State Lands
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News Release
State Land Board honors Oregon Natural Desert Association's Jefferson Jacobs - 10/13/20

BEND, Ore. – The State Land Board today honored Jefferson Jacobs – whose commitment to engaging volunteers in restoration projects has enhanced thousands of lives along with thousands of acres – with a Land Board Award.

“The work Jefferson does to organize, motivate, and guide volunteers is some of the hardest and most important work a restoration professional can do,” says Governor Kate Brown, who presented the award in a virtual ceremony. “He’s not only enhancing state lands and waterways, he’s encouraging passionate stewardship.”

Jacobs has led riparian restoration projects in Oregon for more than a decade. Rethinking the role of volunteers, he says, has big benefits.

“The idea of using volunteers for meaningful restoration work is totally far out,” says Jacobs, the Oregon Natural Desert Association’s Riparian Restoration Coordinator. “People think, well, volunteers can pull cheat grass or pick up cigarette butts. Beginning projects by looking at volunteers as a ready resource led us to realize how much significant work can be done by hand.”

The effectiveness of that approach is showcased in a recent habitat enhancement project at Hay Creek, in Cottonwood Canyon State Park in Gilliam County. Jacobs coordinated numerous multi-day work outings with 2,613 volunteer hours accomplished by a total of 119 individual volunteers. The work creates an opportunity to do something of immediate consequence – and also to make change over time, Jacobs says.

“In the evenings, we’d be sitting around a campfire talking about the ecology of an area and how it’s changing, which helps volunteers really see their contributions. Projects need them, and we are designing those projects to maximize the benefits they bring.”

Jefferson’s particular talent is inspiration, says Oregon Natural Desert Association Executive Director Ryan Houston. 

“Whatever a project needs – whether it’s more hands, more resources, or community support – his spark lights the way for others to get involved,” Houston says. 

The Land Board Awards honor exceptional partners for their contributions to protecting and enhancing Oregon’s treasured natural resources. Inspired by Jacobs, the Oregon Department of State Lands this year added a new category of partnership award.

“Jefferson today received the first Catalyst Award, which will henceforth recognize an individual partner whose efforts advance significant change,” says DSL Director Vicki L. Walker. “He is an amazing example of what a partner can do to increase stewardship of state lands and waterways.”

Learn more about all 2020 Land Board winners on the awards website or view the awards ceremony on the DSL YouTube Channel.

About the State Land Board and the Department of State Lands: The State Land Board consists of Governor Kate Brown, Secretary of State Bev Clarno and State Treasurer Tobias Read. Established by the Oregon Constitution in 1859, the Land Board oversees the state’s Common School Fund. The Department of State Lands is the Land Board’s administrative agency, managing the lands and resources that help fund Oregon’s public schools and protecting the state’s waterways and wetlands for the many benefits they provide.


2020 Land Board Award winner photos for media use are available here.


View more news releases from Oregon Dept. of State Lands.