Campaign calls on Congress, Biden to designate Oregon’s Owyhee Canyonlands as a national monument

Sep 8, 2023

A new campaign, Protect the Owyhee Canyonlands, launched this week calling for the protection of Oregon’s Owyhee Canyonlands as a national monument before the end of 2024. The campaign is urging Congress to act on legislation introduced for the third time in four years by Oregon Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkeley. If Congress fails to act, the campaign is requesting that President Biden use the Senators’ proposal as a blueprint for a national monument designation using executive authority granted to the president under the Antiquities Act of 1906.

According to the campaign, the Owyhee Canyonlands is the largest conservation opportunity in the American West. The proposed legislation would protect over one million acres of federal public lands, safeguarding the landscape and parts of the Owyhee River from industrial development and the impacts of climate change. Currently, only five percent of the Owyhee Canyonlands is permanently protected. Conserving the remaining 95 percent would help Oregon catch up to other Western states in terms of public lands protected in the last decade.

If President Biden designates the Owyhee Canyonlands National Monument, he would make significant progress toward his goal of protecting 30 percent of U.S. lands and waters by 2030. At over a million acres, the designation would be President Biden’s largest national monument designation to date.


Environmentalists sue Utah for failing to protect the shrinking Great Salt Lake

On Wednesday, conservation groups filed a lawsuit saying the Utah government directly contributed to the lake’s aridification by authorizing excessive water use for agriculture and industry. The plaintiffs are suing on the basis of the public trust doctrine, a legal principle that says states are responsible for protecting public resources like shared water.The dried lakebed also poses serious health risks—toxic chemicals like arsenic, lead, and mercury are trapped in the lakebed. As more of the lakebed becomes exposed and dries, those chemicals are carried into the air by wind.

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Quote of the day

For the ancestors of the Owyhee and their future generations, we cannot wait any longer to protect this sacred land. The time is now.”

—Wilson Wewa, Paiute Elder, Storyteller, Spiritual Leader, and Culture Keeper, Protect the Owyhee Canyonlands

Picture This

An elk bugles in the foreground, with colorful trees in the background


WARNING: Stay away from bull elk in Yellowstone National Park especially during fall mating season, which has begun! Learn more:


(Featured image: Owyhee River, Bureau of Land Management Oregon and Washington | Flickr)