Yamhill County, Oregon

David Johns


I have Oregon roots, through and through. My mother grew up on a strawberry farm. I grew up playing in a Willamette Valley woods that no longer exists, bulldozed for a subdivision. One of my brothers lived in Halfway and Burns, from which I explored the high desert country including the Owyhee.

After graduating from Portland State University I left Oregon for a time to study Political Science and Law at Columbia University. But I was drawn back to Oregon, where there is much less concrete. For 36 years I have taught at Portland State about U.S. constitutional law, U.S. politics, environmental politics and about some of the social movements that have ended injustice in our country. A job that is not yet complete.

I first hiked the Owyhee Canyonlands with my daughter decades ago. I can recall the solitude, the smell of desert plants and the water. It’s a place where life remains vibrant, from the bugs and snakes to the sign of larger animals rarely seen. The Owyhee reminds us, as one American said more than 150 years ago, that we are rich in proportion to what we can leave alone. There must be places where we are visitors. We don’t need to own it all.

Since I was born in Oregon many decades ago, much has changed. The Owyhee, on the other hand, is one place that remains its own place, keeping its own time. I believe we Oregonians have the generosity of spirit to keep the Owyhee whole. Let’s protect our heritage before it’s too late.

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