Washington County, Oregon

Joe Walicki


As a veteran, I believe we owe it to our future generations to pass down some lands undeveloped so they can enjoy areas of peace and solitude just as we did. I discovered such places as a child, and I have found strength and resiliency in them as an adult.

As veterans, we fight to protect what makes America great, and for me, it is places like the Owyhee Canyonlands. It is places like this where we go to fish, hike, paddle and explore Oregon’s big backyard.

I grew up in an industrial part of Philadelphia. To get away from the noise and pollution my folks took me and my sister to the Catskill Mountains, where I learned to fish and enjoy the solitude of our great outdoors. While in the Army, I would take off on a three-day pass and head for Smoky Mountains National Park for some quality backpacking.

I feel privileged to have moved to Oregon as an adult. We need to be thoughtful about what is left of our natural heritage here in Oregon. During the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s, I led many exploratory trips to unprotected, stunning natural areas in southeastern Oregon, particularly the Owyhee Canyonlands.

I want the Owyhee Canyonlands protected to ensure there is a place of discovery left in the lower 48 for future generations to enjoy.It’s becoming increasingly rare, and once it’s developed there will be no turning back.

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Stevie Kapanui Parsons


I am Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian) and Anishinaabe (Algonquin indigenous first nations). I was born, raised, and lived most of my adult life in Hawaii.

I was a chef in Hawaii, so when I moved to Oregon six years ago, it was love not just at first sight but first taste. I caught my first salmon almost three years ago and have been hooked ever since. Oregon is world renown for our amazing rivers that are home to these remarkable salmon, steelhead, and trout, But, it is so only because people and past leaders stood up and protected the special places in this state that provide for these natural riches.

The Owyhee Canyonlands in the southeastern corner of our state is one of those special places and it needs our protection now.

Hawaii and the Owyhee Canyonlands have a deep and rich connection. Owyhee was the term Captain James Cook first used to refer to the Hawaiian Islands and their residents; it is his interpretation of the native pronunciation of Hawaii. In 1819, Donald McKenzie of the Northwest Fur Company sent three of his employees who were Native Hawaiians to explore a river. They never returned and the region was named Owyhee in their honor.

We need places of solitude, beauty and quiet to find and to heal; too few of these places remain on this planet, let alone in this state. We owe it to our past and our future to protect the Owyhee Canyonlands now or we will have to answer to our children and the future for our failure to do so.

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