Hot Spot

John Day Fossil Beds National Monument – Painted Hills Unit 2019

Mitchell, OR

In 2014, Painted Hills became one of the Seven Wonders of Oregon as part of a campaign from Travel Oregon. While the Painted Hills are certainly a unique wonder of Oregon, this resulted in a significant increase in visitation. Since then, park staff have noticed a dramatic increase in undesignated trails, unauthorized removal of fossils, and unmanned aircraft.  The fragile nature of the soils comprising the actual painted hills mean a small number of people have huge impacts on the hills, thereby degrading the scenic value of the landscape.  We will be working with the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, the nearby town of Mitchell, Travel Oregon, and other local stakeholders to address these impacts through communication workshops, strategic planning, and public educational programming.


  • 649 People Educated
  • 100 New Junior Rangers
  • 1 Social Media Campaign Launched (#donthurtthedirt)

The Leave No Trace team spent a week at the Painted Hills Unit of John Day Fossil Beds National Monument and nearby town of Mitchell working with the National Park Service and many other local/regional stakeholders to address increasing recreational impacts.  Education focused on the fragile nature of the Painted Hills is key to mitigating long-term degradation to this unique landscape.  We were able to work with various land managers and related stakeholders on effective communication through face to face interactions, social media, and other on-site educational resources. In addition to this, we were able to add value to existing ranger-led programming and provide examples of how Leave No Trace education can be further integrated into these programs moving forward.  With the enthusiastic and collaborative nature of the stakeholders, we were able to facilitate an effective action planning process to continue to build off of the momentum generated during the activation week well into the future.



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