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Owyhee Conservation

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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.

Protecting Oregon's Owyhee Canyonlands

08/03/2015 - by Megan Hooker

The remote and wild landscape of the Owhyee Canyonlands of Southeastern Oregon is complete with deep red-rock canyons, wild rivers and plenty of opportunities for backcountry recreation. The region is also a stronghold to over 200 species, and has fascinating geology, unique ecology and deep history. American Whitewater is part of a coalition working to permanently protect 2.5 million acres of the Owhyee, and you can learn more about the region, our proposal to protect it and ways to support our efforts here! 

The contacts below include staff and volunteers working on this project. Make sure you are logged in if you wish to join the group.

Title Name City
Thomas O'Keefe Seattle WA Details...
Megan Hooker Details...


Owyhee Canyonlands (10/5/2011)

Brochure - Protecting Our Desert Heritage

Blackfoot - Clearwater, Owyhee, MAP Land Act, and Gila Testimony (9/15/2020)

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).

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Testimony (7/10/2023)

Testimony of American Whitewater for Public Lands, Forests, and Mining Subcommittee Legislative Hearing.

Associated Rivers

Owyhee OR
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