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.