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Environment

Owyhee Wilderness Area May Need More Protection

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Bureau of Land Management
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Oregon's Owyee Canyonlands may need more protection than currently exists. A new study says the area's remoteness has helped protect it so far, but local resource extraction proposals could threaten it.

Research conducted by Conservation Science Partners says the 2.5 million acre landscape is one of the most biologically diverse and ecologically intact areas in Oregon. It's also a crucial habitat for the greater sage-grouse. Chief Scientist Brett Dickson says it's remarkable the area has maintained preservation without protections.

Dickson: "The Owyhees have, I think, close to two dozen endemic plants, so found nowhere else on the planet. And so, when you couple those local-scale values with the landscape ecological importance that we identified, I think it makes a really strong case for protection."

Dickson says the lack of human presence is the underlying reason for the areas ecological uniqueness. State legislators, proponents and opponents will discuss Owyhee protection issues Monday during a state house committee informational meeting.