Oregon’s high desert is my home. It is a very special place to me – I was born here and have lived here my entire life. When many people think of Oregon, they picture our state’s lush, moss-covered forest west of the Cascades. But I think of vast, open expanses of sagebrush, hear the joyful calls of meadow larks echoing in a desert canyon and smell the spicy scent of juniper.
I’ve been fortunate to explore the wonders of Oregon’s remote desert lands with my father, who is a botanist. Searching out secret, spring blooms is a favorite ritual of ours. We move at a slower pace in these wild places, appreciating the small details of a sky-blue wildflower or a dusty lizard crouched in an overlooked crevice.
I may be 17, but it’s important that people my age stand up for what they believe in and strive to create the bright, healthy future they want to see. That’s why I support protecting Oregon’s Owyhee Canyonlands. Every generation deserves the chance to experience wild places as they are today – and reconnect with nature in places that haven’t been marred by mining or oil and gas development. So while I may not know exactly what I want to do in the years ahead, I know how I want to make a difference and make the world a better place: By starting right here in my beloved Oregon and helping preserve places like the Owyhee – for all us and for future generations.
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I started exploring Oregon’s high desert in the 1960s. As a teacher, I introduced children and adults to its wonders. And now as an 81-year-old grandmother, I want to make sure its most amazing places remain for my grandchildren to experience.
Having marveled at the beautiful formations in Oregon’s Owyhee uplands, shaped by eons of geologic forces, and having become aware of the more than 200 species of wildlife that depend on this immense ecosystem, I believe the area deserves permanent protection.
The Owyhee country encompasses one of the few remaining large, intact sagebrush steppe habitats in the entire West, thereby protecting healthy herds of the magnificent bighorn sheep, North America’s own pronghorn antelope, and flocks of the iconic but imperiled Greater sage-grouse. For all the above reasons, please join me in calling for protection for the Owyhees.
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As a fifth-generation Oregonian and avid kayaker, I’ve seen – and run – rivers in every corner of Oregon. And I think the Owyhee River is one of the most wild and scenic gems we have in our beautiful state.
The canyons, sagebrush hills and sheer space of the Owyhee Canyonlands has a way of leaving its mark on you. Seeing the Hale-Bopp comet speed across the sky from deep within the Owyhee River canyon is something I’ll never forget. In navigating the ice-cold river and contemplating the ink-black sky alive with stars and free of light pollution, I felt a glimpse into the connection our ancestors had with these wild waters and vast cosmos. The complete solitude and sheer wildness of the Owyhee always leaves me humbled, rejuvenated and grateful.
In an increasingly busy, crowded and developed world, no place is safe from the destructive forces of resource extraction. Places like the Owyhee – and the experiences it affords – are becoming more and more rare. That’s why I support protecting the Owyhee Canyonlands. There are so few places like this left, and it’s right here in Oregon.
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I’ve been active in the Presbyterian Church my whole life, serving as a church elder in Corvallis and then in Bend. And a core tenet of my Christian faith is to treat others as I would wish to be treated. To me, this also translates into how we care for our public lands, especially a natural wonder like Oregon’s Owyhee Canyonlands. Are we being good stewards of the land? Are we preserving it for those generations that will come after us?
To answer yes, I believe we must permanently protect the Owyhee Canyonlands. Growing up, my parents could only afford family vacations on public lands, and we went to the mountains for camping, fishing and hiking. As an adult, I did the same with my two daughters.
Now, I hope for my grandchildren and their grandchildren to experience the Owyhee as it is today. To be visionary enough to preserve it now truly would be partnering with the Creator.