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.
The Wilderness Society 2015 Annual Report
For this report, The Wilderness Society reviewed data from more than 16,000 parcels auctioned off by the state. The analysis details more than a century of land sales that have privatized and closed off an amount of once-accessible lands nearly the size of the entire Sawtooth National Forest. Parcels often end up in the hands of some of Idaho’s biggest industries, while others have been turned into gravel pits, strip malls and even exclusive private fishing retreats and lakeshore hideaways for those wealthy enough to buy them.
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