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Protecting Public Wildlands in Oregon’s High Desert

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The Oregon Sierra Club’s High Desert Committee

Owyhee River Canyon

Owyhee River Canyon
photo Sandy Lonsdale

The High Desert Committee works to protect and conserve the public wildlands in Oregon’s high desert administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

"Alone in the silence, I understand for a moment the dread which many feel in the presence of primeval desert. the unconscious fear which compels them to tame, alter or destroy what they cannot understand, to reduce the wild and prehuman to human dimensions."

—Edward Abbey

Consider joining us on one of our High Desert Outings or one of our monthly meetings held at the Oregon Chapter office on the first Wednesday of every month at 6:00 pm.

About the High Desert Committee


High Desert Committee Our Mission

The Problem: Unprotected Desert in Eastern Oregon

Many High Desert lands in eastern Oregon are suitable for wilderness protection either in Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs) or are wilderness quality lands not identified for future protection. These lands face threats from grazing, mining, and off road vehicle abuse and from an overall lack of public advocacy.

The Sierra Club’s Solution: Educate and Protect

The Sierra Club’s High Desert Committee is actively educating the public and decision makers on the ecological values in Oregon’s High Desert country, building support for permanent protection for all wilderness quality desert lands in Oregon. We are specifically advocating for wilderness protection for the Owyhee Canyonlands, Badlands, Spring Basin and permanent protection for all existing BLM Wilderness Study Areas in Oregon’s High Desert country. We are actively working to implement an acceptable management plan for the Steens Cooperative Management Area (CMPA) and Steens Mountain Wilderness and engaging in legal action where necessary to protect Oregon’s High Desert and desert wilderness areas.

Support the Sierra Club’s Efforts to Protect Oregon’s High Desert

Your support helps the Sierra Club effectively engage in education and outreach to the public and decision makers across Oregon for the protection of Oregon’s High Desert country. We dedicate staff and volunteer time to upholding the Steens Act and organizing events such as our annual Steens Mountain fence pull, cleaning up barbed wire from the Steens Wilderness. Financial support is needed for our legal fund to protect Steens Mountain from illegal road building and other threats.


Owyhee Canyonlands Protection Campaign

Greater Owyhee Canyonlands logo

In April 2003 we kicked off a campaign to protect the Owyhee Canyonlands with a photo exhibition during Portland’s First Thursday art event. Now that legislation has been passed protecting the Badlands, Spring Basin, and Soda Mountain, we have reinvigorated our efforts to gain permanant protection for the Owyhee Canyonlands.

Learn more about the Owyhee Canyonlands, its natural history, conservation challenges and what you can do to help protect this area.

Download and view our Owyhee Canyonlands Campaign Brochure

Owyhee Canyonlands Campaign