Volunteers with the Oregon Natural Desert Association and Merkle RKG spent about 3½ hours Friday replacing barbed wire along the Badlands Wilderness boundary with straight wire.

In all they replaced about a half mile of wire, said Jefferson Jacobs, wilderness stewardship coordinator with the Bend-based Oregon Natural Desert Association. Barbed wire can harm wildlife. Straight wire is better for animals while still keeping people from driving onto the Badlands.

“It’s just to be nicer to wildlife,” he said.

The U.S. Congress designated the 29,180-acre Badlands Wilderness, which the Bureau of Land Management oversees, in 2009. Trails crisscross the land, which is popular for hiking and horseback riding.

Merkle RKG is a digital marketing company with an office in Bend. It teamed up with the Oregon Natural Desert Association on the project. The crew Friday focused on a stretch along U.S. Highway 20 about 10 miles east of Bend. There are many more miles of barbed wire to replace around the Badlands.

“It’s something we’ll chip away at for years to come,” Jacobs said.

— Dylan J. Darling

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