Owyhee Canyonlands: The largest conservation opportunity in the West

Jan 26, 2024

The Center for Western Priorities has released the latest film in our Road to 30: Postcards campaign featuring the Owyhee Canyonlands in southeast OregonCovering millions of acres of sagebrush, river canyons, and geologic wonders, the Owyhee Canyonlands is the largest conservation opportunity in the American West. The vast, intact ecosystem is home to hundreds of bird species, mule deer, pronghorn, lizards and reptiles, and myriad plants and insects. Due to its remoteness, it boasts some of the darkest night skies in the lower 48. The region is the ancestral homeland of the Northern Paiute, Bannock, and Shoshone peoples.

Efforts to permanently protect the Owyhee Canyonlands from the threats of industrial development and climate change have been underway for decades. Lawmakers have repeatedly crafted and introduced legislation to provide greater protections for the region. Despite strong and broad-based support on the ground, their efforts have been stymied by congressional gridlock. The Protect the Owyhee Canyonlands campaign is calling on President Joe Biden to work with Oregon’s U.S. senators to use his authority under the Antiquities Act to designate a national monument if Congress once again fails to enact their legislation.

The film features Wilson Wewa, a Northern Paiute elder and traditional knowledge keeper, Julie Weikel, a retired large animal veterinarian and longtime Owyhee advocate, Karly Foster, Owyhee Campaign Manager with the Oregon Natural Desert Association, and Tim Davis, the founder and executive director of the Friends of the Owyhee. Each speaker shares their connection to this landscape and what makes it the greatest conservation opportunity in the country.

Inside the Foundation for America’s Public Lands

In the latest episode of CWP’s podcast, The Landscape, Kate talks with I Ling Thompson, CEO of The Foundation for America’s Public Lands. The Foundation is the official charitable partner of the Bureau of Land Management. Its job is to engage with local communities and the public on behalf of the agency. Thompson discusses the challenges the BLM faces and how the Foundation plans to help, as well as how members of the public can engage with the Foundation.

Quick hits

Biden announces pause on new natural gas export permits

The Guardian | Politico | E&E News

Groups call for mineral withdrawal in Amargosa Desert to protect Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge

Nevada Current

Utah offered to help fund a coal terminal in California. A judge’s ruling keeps the plan alive despite opposition

Salt Lake Tribune

Why California’s housing market is destined to go up in flames


Arctic oil field traffic disturbs caribou more than previously known

Alaska Beacon | E&E News

Fourth and final dam breached on the Klamath River


The lithium revolution has arrived at California’s Salton Sea

Los Angeles Times

Editorial: Threat of uranium mining in Colorado neighborhood drives home risk of split estates

Denver Post

Quote of the day

When we get involved in endeavors to protect places like this, it means a lot to us because we’re not only protecting the scenic quality of the land, we’re protecting our homeland.”

—Wilson Wewa, Northern Paiute Tribe elder, Road to 30: Postcards

Picture This

“We have been invited to a highly exclusive event: A Superb Owl Party. The party we’re going to is celebrating the Superb Owl, who is the greatest owl of all time.” -Nadja of Antipaxos
Capitol Reef invites YOU to help select this year’s Superb Owl! Over the next few weeks, we’ll put the contenders head-to-head until one remains on Superb Owl Sunday.
The first competitor is the Burrowing Owl. In Capitol Reef, the Burrowing Owl is an elusive opponent, only coming out for spectators once every few years, and only for morning and afternoon games. It tends to play best when it has the home field advantage: playing in a literal field. When the going gets tough and the predators get going, the Burrowing Owl gets low, dropping down into its underground burrows. Playing on a bad air quality day? That’s no match for the Burrowing Owl. Living underground has allowed these owls to increase their resistance to carbon dioxide.
Stayed tuned to meet Capitol Reef’s other competitors and see who clinches the Superb Owl title!
NPS Photo


Featured image: Road to 30: Postcards