This summer and fall, the statewide effort to permanently protect Oregon’s Owyhee Canyonlands is hitting full throttle. We will shine a light on the need to preserve this special place for future generations through events and communications with our decision-makers, and we will be asking you more than ever before to get involved.
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: The Owyhee Canyonlands is big in every sense of the word. Protecting more than 2 million acres in the southeastern corner of Oregon would be an unprecedented big win for conservation, for Oregon’s wildlife and rivers and for Oregonians. And a goal this large and significant requires a coordinated, statewide effort like the Owyhee Canyonlands Campaign.
We’re thrilled by how the campaign has grown. Thousands of people statewide, as well as conservation and recreation groups, have been advocating this year for protection of the Owyhee. More than 10,000 people have joined the Owyhee Facebook community, nearly 9,000 people have signed the petition calling for protection of the area, and Friends of the Owyhee, a new eastern Oregon-based group, has been leading hikes and holding events to increase local awareness and support for the area in Malheur County.
In addition, the Owyhee Coalition is amplifying efforts to cast an even wider net to Oregonians, encouraging them to sign the petition urging U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden to take action. The Owyhee Coalition consists of local, regional and national groups that recognize the conservation, recreation and economic values of the area – and we are fired up about seeing this place protected.
We also have some great, updated tools to help get the word out about the Owyhee and efforts to preserve it. We’re now on Instagram. The revamped WildOwyhee.org website – in addition to featuring some of the area’s incredible wildlife, recreation options and cultural history – now also puts the need to protect this place front and center. Visitors to the website can still plan a trip to explore the area, yet they can also learn more about what makes the Owyhee so special and then take direct action to protect its wildlife, lands and rivers.
Growing awareness and appreciation for the sagebrush sea
The importance and sweeping majesty of sagebrush ecosystems have continued to receive more recognition as of late. The recent designation of Basin and Range National Monument in Nevada, as well as the release of the Bureau of Land Management’s Greater sage-grouse plans, have brought national attention to the West’s desert lands and highlighted their ecological, recreational and cultural significance. Oregon’s Owyhee Canyonlands has been identified as one of the most significant remaining strongholds for the Greater sage-grouse in the West by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and articles in Men’s Journal, 1859 Oregon’s Magazine and elsewhere continue to elevate the wonders of this special place and reinforce that this part of Oregon deserves permanent protection.
A major partner is also working to bring awareness to this swath of the sagebrush sea. KEEN Footwear, based in Portland, has launched its Live Monumental campaign to showcase exceptional places where we play that deserve protection. KEEN identified the Owyhee Canyonlands as one of five places in the nation to feature in this campaign, which will be touring across the country this summer. Live Monumental will deliver 100,000 signatures supporting permanent protection of these places to the Obama Administration in the fall.
At the end of the day, the Owyhee Canyonlands deserve protection. There are a variety of legislative and administrative options the campaign is considering to permanently protect this place, and should a legislative approach prove unsuccessful a national monument designation would afford this area the protection it deserves. We applaud KEEN’s efforts and urge you to turn out for the Live Monumental events.
We’re working to have the foresight to prevent the sort of development and impacts that have quickly taken hold in other areas of the West in the most unique and ecologically significant areas of the Owyhee. The Owyhee Canyonlands Campaign envisions a future for the Owyhee where plant and animal communities flourish, wide-open spaces and recreational opportunities abound, and local communities thrive. Permanently protecting the most special places within the Owyhee would safeguard the area’s fascinating geology, rich ancient history, healthy wildlife habitat and unique ecology. Extractive uses that would permanently damage these pristine places would not be allowed, while activities like fishing, boating, hunting and hiking would continue. Working farms and ranches would continue to operate. And it ensures a future for the Owyhee in which plant and animal communities flourish, wide-open spaces and recreational opportunities abound and local communities thrive.
We need our growing group of supporters – and YOU – to turn up the heat! Check out the Owyhee Calendar below to get involved and join us on Facebook for updates on all things Owyhee.
Call Senator Ron Wyden at his Portland office: 503-326-7525. Tell him you love the Owyhee and it deserves protection, now!
Email Senator Wyden. Let him know you support permanent protection of the Owyhee Canyonlands.
Thursday, August 13:
Attend KEEN Live Monumental Owyhee event | Bend, Oregon. Check back for event details.
Thursday, September 3:
Attend KEEN Live Monumental Owyhee event | Portland, Oregon. Check back for event details.