The Owyhee River is protected as a Wild and Scenic river and during the spring it is well known to river runners as one of the region's most spectacular multi-day river trips. Three distinct sections on the mainstem can be paddled as separate trips or strung together for one long journey. In addition, side canyons and tributaries provide opportunities for multi-sport adventures with a packraft.
While the river corridor is protected under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, much of the surrounding landscape of backcountry terrain managed by the Bureau of Land Management is currently unprotected. At over 2.5 million acres, the Owyhee Canyonlands are the largest conservation opportunity left in the continental United States. Incredibly remote, the landscape is divided by only two paved highways that serve as the entry point for multi-day adventures in the backcountry. American Whitewater supports the designation of this backcountry as wilderness.
To achieve this conservation goal, American Whitewater is a member of the Owyhee Canyonlands Campaign, a coalition of citizens coming together to preserve the Owyhee River and its iconic desert landscapes. We envision a future for the Owyhee where plant and animal communities flourish, wide open spaces and recreational opportunities abound, and traditional livelihoods and local communities thrive. The stories, culture, and values of this area were born from the rolling sagebrush hills and dramatic river canyons, and we want the next generation to inherit the same beauty and solitude that we find in the Canyonlands today.
You can learn more about the campaign by checking out the Owyhee Canyonlands website.
Owyhee Canyonlands Legislation Introduced (OR)
This week's introduction of the Malheur County Community Empowerment for the Owyhee Act (S. 2828) represents a historic move to protect over 1.1 million acres of public lands as wilderness in Malheur County centered around the Owyhee Canyonlands. The legislation also includes protection for an additional 14.7 miles of the Owyhee River as Wild and Scenic.
Protecting Oregon's Owyhee Canyonlands
- Owyhee Canyonlands
Brochure - Protecting Our Desert Heritage
- Blackfoot - Clearwater, Owyhee, MAP Land Act, and Gila Testimony
Public Lands, Forests, and Mining Subcommittee Legislative Hearing Including S. 1765, Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act (Tester); S. 2828, Malheur Community Empowerment for the Owhyee Act (Wyden); S. 3427, Modernizing Access to Our Public Land Act (McSally); S. 3670, M.H. Dutch Salmon Greater Gila Wild and Scenic River Act (Udall).