The Burns District is located in southeastern Oregon, extending from the Oregon-Nevada border on the south into the Blue Mountains on the north, a distance of nearly 200 miles. There are over 3.36 million acres of public land and it is divided into two Resource Areas: Three Rivers Resource Area, roughly 1.68 million acres in the northern portion of the District; and Andrews Resource Area, 1.68 million acres of public land in the south. Within the District boundary there are also large areas of private, other Federal and State lands.
Wildlife is as varied as the land, offering habitat for numerous wildlife species including Rocky Mountain elk, California bighorn sheep, pronghorn antelope, and mule deer. Several herds of wild horses are also seen roaming the Burns District. The area is well known for its plentiful and varied songbird and raptor populations, especially during the spring and fall migration periods. Upland game birds and small mammals are widespread. Most streams, perennial ponds, and reservoirs contain native and/or stocked trout as well as a variety of warm-water fish.
Composed of a diverse landscape with large areas of western juniper forests, wetlands and rivers scattered throughout, and ponderosa pine forests found in the foothills of the Blue Mountains, Burns provides habitat for a variety of plants and animals. There is also an extensive northern Great Basin sagebrush/bunchgrass system and high elevation sub-alpine vegetation and aspen forests, found on the Steens, Trout Creek, and Pueblo Mountains.
More than 1,000 wild horses roam within eight Herd Management Areas. The District has a primary role in coordinating and conducting roundups of excess horses throughout the State. At the Burns District Wild Horse Corrals, the animals are prepared for adoption through the National Adopt-A-Horse and Burro Program.
The District manages 9,000 acres of commercial forest (primarily ponderosa pine and Douglas-fir), and issues permits for a variety of special forest products including firewood, fence posts, poles, and juniper boughs.
A total of 23 designated Wilderness Study Areas, containing over 1,074,000 acres of public lands, exist in the Burns District and are managed to protect their wilderness values. Other special designations have been given to some lands in recognition of certain outstanding natural attributes: the Donner and Blitzen National Wild and Scenic River, the Diamond Craters Outstanding Natural Area and a number of Areas of Critical Environmental Concern which include Research Natural Areas (RNAs) as well as several areas of important wildlife habitat and one area of high scenic value. The Steens Mountain, Diamond Loop, and Lakeview to Steens National Back Country Byways are also found in the District, although the latter is located primarily on the BLM Lakeview District. The most recent special designation, made in October 2000, is the Steens Mountain Cooperative Management and Protection Area – approximately 500,000 acres of public land on Steens Mountain offering diverse scenic/recreational experiences and extraordinary landscapes.
The United States Congress designated the Steens Mountain Wilderness in 2000 and it now has over 170,200 acres. All of this wilderness is located in Oregon and is managed by the Bureau of Land Management. Steens Mountain is located in Oregon's high desert is one of the crown jewels of the state's wildlands. It is some of the wildest and most remote land left in Oregon.
Opportunities for recreation on Steens Mountain are as plentiful as they are widespread. Popular activities include camping, picnicking, sightseeing, and exploring the open country on foot and horseback. Hiking is available in all areas and trailheads exist near Page Springs and South Steens Campgrounds, as well as Wildhorse Overlook and Pike Creek. Visitors photograph landscapes, wildlife and wildflowers, and catch redband trout in the Donner und Blitzen River. Others enjoy hunting for wild game and visiting special places, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing.
The District has fire management responsibilities for its public lands and a cooperative fire suppression role on adjacent U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and State of Oregon properties. The Burns Interagency Communication Center is located at the District Office and fulfills critical communication and dispatch operations for wildfire incidents occurring on the BLM Burns District, the Snow Mountain Ranger District of the Ochoco National Forest, the Emigrant Creek Ranger District of the Malheur National Forest, and the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The Burns Interagency Fire Zone has nine fire lookouts: Calamity, Sugarloaf, Snow Mountain, Wagontire, Riddle Mountain, and Dry Mountain, which are staffed during the fire season and West Myrtle, King Mountain, and Bald Butte which are staffed only during emergency situations. There are also three guard stations: Crowflat, Allison, and Frenchglen.