Health care providers urge for protecting the Owyhee

Dr. Stuart Garrett spent his summers growing up on his grandfather’s cattle ranch in Klamath County – and Oregon’s high desert made a lasting impression. He began his career as a physician over four decades ago. After his residency in Portland, he moved to Bend where he had a family practice for almost 40 years. Now retired, Dr. Garrett spends time with this wife enjoying the many ecological, cultural and recreational wonders Eastern Oregon has to offer. Here, he shares why protecting the Owyhee Canyonlands is critical to health care providers. A letter urging Oregon's senators to act has drawn signatures from more than 100 health care professionals across the state.

I have joined more than 100 doctors and health care providers from across Oregon in urging for action today to permanently protect the Owyhee Canyonlands. Statewide and local support for safeguarding this special place includes thousands of Oregonians, more than 150 businesses and a growing coalition that includes veterans, sportsmen and other engaged citizens.

As health care professionals we are responsible for the health and betterment of our communities. This is why so many of us strongly support permanent protection of the Owyhee Canyonlands and its diversity of active recreation opportunities.

In an increasingly busy and connected world, having places where we can unplug, recharge and reconnect are becoming more important and rare. The Owyhee Canyonlands is one of these precious places. That’s why protecting this area is so important to the health of Oregonians.

The idea that spending time in the great outdoors is good for your health is intuitive. Many of us have experiences of our own or from friends and family that support this idea, and in my almost 40 years as a family physician I witnessed the positive impact that spending time in nature had on the mental and physical health my patients. Now, researchers have amassed a body of evidence showing that spending time in nature is imperative for both our mental and physical health.

With today's wired generations and increasingly urban populations, we see people spending less time outside. And this is linked to some of the most disturbing health trends in our modern era, including obesity, attention disorders and depression. Access to outdoor recreation is a requirement for remaining healthy in the modern age. Oregon today offers this quality of life through amazing public lands like the Owyhee, and it’s incumbent upon us to make sure the Owyhee remains an unmarred, wild natural area into the future.

I know and love Oregon’s Owyhee Canyonlands, and for good reason. I have spent many weeks in the Owyhee backcountry chasing rare plant species, rafting, birding, and exploring for over 30 years.

The time to take action to protect the Owyhee is now. The forces of industry know of the Owyhee, and it’s only a matter of time until they take hold. For the health of our citizens, join me in supporting permanent protection today.


July 27, 2016

The Honorable Ron Wyden
221 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC, 20510

The Honorable Jeff Merkley
313 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Wyden and Senator Merkley,

We the undersigned health care professionals and advocates support permanent protection of the Owyhee Canyonlands.

Thank you for introducing the Southeastern Oregon Mineral Withdrawal and Economic Preservation and Development Act (S.3048) and for your leadership in working to protect our wildest public lands and Oregon’s recreational opportunities.

Located in eastern Oregon, the Owyhee Canyonlands are home to a range of active recreational opportunities like hiking, hunting, camping, fishing, birding and boating.  Access to these opportunities promotes a healthy lifestyle, making Oregon a desirable place to live and work.

A recent United Health Foundation report found that physical activity for adults has increased since 2014 and Oregon is leading the way. We’re currently ranked as the 2nd most active state in the nation. Trends like this help in the broader fight against obesity and diabetes and, in part, are made possible by ensuring people have places to recreate. Protecting places like the Owyhee Canyonlands ensures access to places for people to exercise and provides Oregonians with many affordable, healthy recreation opportunities.

As health care professionals we are responsible for the health and betterment of our communities and this is why we strongly support permanent protection of the Owyhee Canyonlands and its diversity of active recreation opportunities.  

The opinions expressed are those of individuals from the health care community across Oregon. They do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of their respective institutions.