I first ventured into the Owyhee Canyonlands in 1991 on a classic post-college, dirtbag kayak trip. Four of us traveled in and lived out of my buddy’s two-door Ford Ranger on our two week kayak trip. In the years following my trip down the Bruneau Canyon, I was lucky enough to paddle rivers in Central and South America, Pakistan, Nepal and New Zealand. When I paddled the Bruneau again 10 years later, it was even more impressive.
This one of the reasons I am proud to be part of the Owyhee Initiative, which includes the Idaho Conservation League, local ranchers, county officials, conservation partners, sportsmen and recreationists.
After years of hard work by the Owyhee Initiative, Congress passed legislation for the first new Idaho wilderness areas in over 29 years. The 2009 Owyhee Public Lands Management Act achieved the following accomplishments for Idaho and the nation:
- Designates 517,000 acres of new wilderness
- Protects 318 miles of wild and scenic rivers
- Improves regulation and enforcement of illegal off-road vehicle use in Owyhee County
View a map of the newly protected wilderness areas and rivers.
Our work isn’t done. We continue to craft win-win grazing arrangements so ranchers can improve efficiencies and sensitive landscapes are permanently retired from grazing pressure. Other ICL work in the landscape includes sage-grouse protections, travel planning regulations, Wilderness Management Plans, and, of course, the occasional dirtbag river trip.