Press Release

Bill introduced to protect Oregon's Owyhee Canyonlands

Bighorn ewes in the Owyhee Canyonlands.

Oregon's Owyhee Canyonlands are rich with wildlife.

Photo credit: Greg Burke

Legislation seeks to permanently protect red-rock canyons, rolling plains and wild rivers from damaging extractive uses.

Senator Ron Wyden, D-OR, a senior member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, and Senator Jeff Merkley, D-OR, have introduced the Malheur Community Empowerment for the Owyhee Act to permanently protect over 1 million acres of wilderness, recreational opportunities, wildlife habitat and traditional agricultural heritage in Oregon.

The Wilderness Society released the following statement from senior campaign director Matt Keller:

“The Owyhee Canyonlands in southeastern Oregon are one of our nation’s last unprotected wild places, where deep red-rock canyons, rolling plains and wild rivers host ample recreational opportunities that are threatened by an array of extractive uses. 

“The Wilderness Society commends Senator Ron Wyden’s innovative and inclusive approach to legislation that brings local and regional stakeholders together, building trust and community consensus when these values are disappearing in our political system.  We very much appreciate Senator Jeff Merkley’s strong support of this historic effort and look forward to working with the Senators and Congress to strengthen the legislation so the Owyhee Canyonlands can be permanently protected for future generations.”


Matt Keller, Senior Campaign Director, 970-946-0906; [email protected]

The Wilderness Society, founded in 1935, is the leading conservation organization working to protect wilderness and inspire Americans to care for our wild places. With more than one million members and supporters, The Wilderness Society has led the effort to permanently protect 109 million acres of wilderness and to ensure sound management of our shared national lands.