Permanent protections for the Owyhee Canyonlands 

Oregon’s Owyhee Canyonlands represent one of the largest conservation opportunities in the American West. 

The Owyhee is an integral part of the sagebrush steppe landscape that supports more than 350 species of fish and wildlife, including California bighorn sheep, pronghorn, elk, mule deer, sage grouse, brown trout, and native interior redband trout. But it’s not immune to our ever-changing world. 

Tell President Biden and Congress to designate the Owyhee Canyonlands National Monument and ensure hunting and angling traditions can continue on this landscape for generations to come.  

Where is the Owyhee?  

The Owyhee Canyonlands cover millions of acres in the three corners region of Oregon, Idaho, and Nevada. The Owyhee River, a tributary of the Snake, weaves for 346 miles through the region, and its watershed covers 11,049 square miles.  

In Idaho, the Owyhee is permanently protected as Wilderness; however, Oregon’s Owyhee Canyonlands lack similar protections, leaving the landscape vulnerable to development and impacts from a changing climate.  

What’s at stake?  

The Owyhee Canyonlands faces threats from industrial scale mining along with energy exploration and development. Climate change also poses a serious risk for the Owyhee. The region is one of the fastest-heating areas in the state, a cause for alarm for the fish, wildlife, waters, lands, and communities that comprise this area. Protecting the Owyhee for its rich ecological values will help the land adapt to the pressures of a changing climate, including drought.   


After three decades of trying to protect the Owyhee, now is the time for action. Currently, only five percent of the canyonlands are protected. Oregon has one of the fastest rates of development in the West. Over the past two decades, the state has lost the equivalent of nearly 200,000 football fields of natural area. Without permanent protection, the Owyhee is not safe from the growing threats of development.  

Protections for the Owyhee 

In 2019, Senator Ron Wyden (OR-D) first introduced the Malheur Community Empowerment for the Owyhee Act – a bill that would designate the Owyhee as wilderness. Part of the legislative process included the founding of a “legislative table team” made up of tribes, local ranchers, environmental organizations, and hook and bullet groups. These stakeholders, along with Senator Wyden, worked together for over a year to develop a refined version of the Owyhee Act and in June of 2023, Senator Wyden reintroduced the legislation as  Senate Bill 1890

While the Owyhee Act would afford the canyonlands permanent protection, the legislation faces obstacles to passage in Congress. The Owyhee cannot wait. That is why we’re calling on President Biden to designate the Owyhee Canyonlands National Monument. Under the Antiquities Act of 1906, the President can designate a monument that would provide an equivalent level of protection while accommodating existing uses and respecting the rights and privileges of all stakeholders.

Our partners

Our organizations represent hundreds of thousands of anglers and hunters nationwide and in Oregon who share in a collective belief that healthy public lands are essential to sustaining our angling and hunting traditions. 

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