My first trip to the Owyhee Canyonlands left me dumbstruck. As a geologist, the region’s stunning formations were reminiscent of the Colorado Plateau, labyrinths of rock-walled causeways leading to stone hoodoos, pillars and platforms. As a writer, Owyhee’s vastness and solitude opened the tunnels of my imagination. “Oregon’s Grand Canyon” feels untouched by time and its travelers, unburdened by the demands of a resource hungry society. Upon my return, I promptly bought every book about the Owyhee that I could find.
My concern for the future of the Owyhee Canyonlands is mineral development. Unlike so much of the West, the Owyhee is not scarred by the boom and bust remnants of mineral extraction. But that very likely will change if the area does not receive protection. Protection for the region should offer sustainable economic opportunities for local communities — ranching, guiding, visitor accommodations — while preserving the region’s rare qualities. No one, not locals and not visitors, wants the area exploited. Protection is a value we all can share.
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I’m a lifelong Oregonian, and I can honestly say that my favorite part of Oregon is the Owyhee Canyonlands. As a landscape photographer, the vastness, light and geology is absolutely amazing. During my first visit to the Owyhee, I explored by vehicle, foot and packraft for 10 days without seeing another soul, experiencing a feeling of discovery unlike anything I’ve ever known.
Now that I’m a new parent, I want to make sure the stunning landscapes I have photographed remain just as rugged and full of wonder for my son to explore. We need to protect the Owyhee Canyonlands now to ensure it maintains the wild character for the next generation, who will undoubtedly thank us for it.