October 10, 2011
Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA)
PILP’s summer stipend program made it possible for me to spend the summer working as a law clerk for The Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA), a non-profit public interest organization dedicated to preserving and protecting the public lands of eastern Oregon through a balance of hard-hitting legal challenges and collaborative conservation efforts. Holding a special enthusiasm for protecting native and threatened ecosystems, ONDA provided me with an experiential learning environment that allowed me to utilize my background in environmental science while enhancing my knowledge of natural resource law. This summer I worked with ONDA to protect Oregon’s desert from the degradation caused by livestock grazing on public lands by bringing grazing into compliance with the standards mandated by law in order to achieve a healthy ecosystem. This work offered a perfect environment for me to learn the basics of administrative law – often the basis for many environmental claims - while helping me to gain familiarity with important and integral environmental statutes such as NEPA, ESA, FLPMA, NFMA and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. As ONDA has a small legal team, I was able to take part in many aspects of the organization’s legal actions. From commenting on a BLM Geographic Management Area Plan to drafting a complaint regarding the Umatilla National Forest’s categorical exclusion of grazing authorizations on specific allotments to helping file a complaint in District Court, I was involved in many of the significant steps of the litigation process. Overall, my work at ONDA helped to give me a comprehensive perspective of public interest law, allowed me to contribute substantive work to relevant projects and provided me access to knowledgeable staff attorneys that offered practical guidance in how to become an effective and capable public interest attorney that would not have been possible without the help and dedication of PILP.