The Owyhee Canyonlands is one of America’s great untamed wildlands and outdoor recreation spots—and we must be vigilant to ensure it remains wild and protected from threats like irresponsible off-road vehicle us and uncharacteristic wild fires.
In 2009, years of work by The Wilderness Society and local leaders and residents in Owyhee County came to fruition as 517,000 acres in the region were designated as wilderness. However, federal management plans that guarantee these wilderness areas are protected still need to be developed and implemented. The high desert landscape is particularly vulnerable to the expected effects of climate change, and land management decisions need to address strategies to reduce invasive weed growth and protect sage grouse populations.
Work we are doing
High desert landscape in the Owyhees. Credit: Bill Williams, flickr.
Stewardship of the Owyhee Canyonlands
In addition to the wilderness designated in the Owyhee Canyonlands in 2009, The Wilderness Society is working on plans that affect the role of fire in this desert landscape, and the recovery and stewardship of wildlife populations such as sage grouse and bighorn sheep.
We are also working with those who have small, private ownership of land within Owyhee wilderness areas and are willing to sell those inholdings so that they can be incorporated into the publicly owned wildlands.
The Wilderness Society will work with land managers in the Owyhee Canyonlands to develop specific plans to manage off-road vehicle use throughout the non-wilderness lands in Owyhee County. Irresponsible off-road vehicle travel cuts deep, lasting ruts in this fragile landscape, leading to erosion and the introduction of invasive exotic weeds that crowd out critical wildlife forage.
Even since wilderness was protected in the Owyhee Canyonlands in 2009, The Wilderness Society has continued to work with diverse partners to make sure the land receives the care it deserves. These have included, local government officials, ranchers, sportsmen, backcountry horseman, outfitters, and many others.
- Idaho Conservation League
- The Nature Conservancy
- Sierra Club
- Idaho Rivers United
- Owyhee Cattlemen's Association
- Owyhee Farm Bureau
- Owyhee County Soil and Water Conservation District
- Back Country Horsemen of Idaho
- Idaho Outfitters and Guides Assocation
- Wild Sheep Foundation
- Owyhee Borderlands Trust
- Southwestern Idaho Desert Racing Association
Wilderness is a precious resource with many human, natural and economic benefits that we need to protect.
Add your voice to important wilderness causes and take action to stop threats to our wildlands by joining our community of wilderness activists.
There are many ways to play in the wild places we work to protect. Find your next wild destination among our top experiences.
- Monday, March 27, 2017
Today, President Trump signed an executive order with multiple environmental rollbacks that will harm public lands. The sweeping directive targets policies to undo the Clean Power Plan and undoes the pause in the federal coal program. It also strikes down guidelines that were put in place to ensure climate pollution considerations were part of the environmental review process, reverses rules to minimize methane pollution and rejects science determining how to calculate the cost of carbon emissions to society.
- Monday, March 20, 2017
The state of New Mexico has sold 4 million acres of state trust lands to private interests and extractive industries, some of which endanger the health, environment, and economy of local communities, according to a report released this week by The Wilderness Society.
- Friday, March 17, 2017
The most recent paper, “Wild, connected, and diverse: building a more resilient system of protected areas,” will be published in Ecological Applications, a journal of the Ecological Society of America.
Authors: R. Travis Belote, Matthew S. Dietz, Clinton N. Jenkins, Peter S. McKinley, G. Hugh Irwin, Timothy J. Fullman, Jason C. Leppi, Gregory H. Aplet.