Owyhee Canyonlands Protection
Senator Ron Wyden is at it. Along with Senator Jeff Merkley, the Malheur Community Empowerment for the Owyhee Act looks to protect over 1.1 million acres in Southeastern Oregon. This Act would promote the long-term ecological health of the federal land to support the surrounding communities and natural resources. This area is crucial to ranching as well as wild life, recreation, and the Burns Paiute Tribe. This act has some big goals.
What are the goals?
Malheur County is the poorest county in Oregon. So economic growth is obviously an important item. Much of the push is for updates on infrastructure related to recreation in the area. Also promoting new tourism with some scenic drive loops, and a big rails to trail project known as Oregon Eastern Branch Trail.
“Whether you are a rancher carrying on your family business in eastern Oregon, an outdoor enthusiast who enjoys hikes in the Canyonlands or an environmentalist seeking to protect wildlife habitat, you have a stake in the future of this unique and important landscape of Malheur County,” Senator Ron Wyden
While the Owyhee Canyonlands is important to cattle ranchers, it is also home to pronghorn, California Big Horn Sheep, 28 plants species found no where else, and serve as a flyway to 100+ migratory birds. Adaptive management of the land will promote a healthy ecosystem for grazing as well as the flora and fauna that call this corner of Oregon home.
This act will also strive to protect and enhance the ancient human history of the area. With numerous sacred and important sites through out the landscape, continued protection is needed.
What will it protect?
While some of the land currently has protection, the act is looking to add 1.1 million new acres of wilderness. With 223,586 of those acres honoring long time public servant Mary Gautreaux. The Owyhee River will also gain 14.7 more miles of Wild and Scenic Rivers designation.
What Can You do?
- Send Senator Wyden a Thank You
- Go visit the Owyhee Canyonlands
- Get your hands dirty with a group like Oregon Natural Desert Association and check out the volunteer trips they offer
Have a great story about your time in the Owyhee Canyonlands? Share in the comments below!