Just a 15-minute drive from Downtown Bend in Central Oregon, the Badlands offer a quiet getaway. The land is designated as "Wilderness" by the federal government, while volcanic ash and eroded lava make up sandy natural trails. Off-trail hikers can explore mazes recreated by lava ridges that once rose and then split down the middle as the lava cooled.
David Eddleston leads a volunteer force called the friends of the Oregon Badlands or FOBITS. He said the fun name rhyming with Hobits brings attention to the group's mission to help restore this high desert jewel.
"That means reversing decades of dumping," Eddleston said. "We want to take out all this trash that we've got here and gradually restore it and heal it and bring it back to being a wilderness again."
The Fobits have more than a 130 volunteers who work closely with other nonprofits.
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management says that it benefits from tens of thousands of dollars in volunteer labor. Facing tight budgets and limited resources, land managers here are increasingly turning to volunteers to help protect these uniquely American assets.