The Blitzen River Wilderness Study Area (WSA) (OR-2-86E) is located 60 miles south of Burns (less than 1 mile south of Frenchglen), in Harney County, Oregon. The northwestern edge of the WSA is adjacent to Oregon State Highway 205.
The Blitzen River WSA is irregularly shaped and contains 31,902 acres of BLM land.
The area is approximately 10 miles from north to south and 7 miles from east to west. The study area’s boundary line is formed by a variety of features. On the north, most of the boundary line is formed by the northern portion of the Steens Mountain Loop Road which is a high standard gravel road. Private land, a portion of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, and a small segment of Oregon State Highway 205 form the remainder of the northern boundary line.
A portion of the eastern boundary line lies adjacent to private land and public lands. The Steens Mountain Wilderness boundary, which coincides with the Donner und Blitzen Wild and Scenic River corridor boundary also forms part of the eastern boundary. On the south, the boundary line is formed by the southern portion of the Steens Mountain Loop Road, several other BLM roads and several parcels of private land. The western boundary line generally follows a powerline, although a parcel of private land also occurs on this side of the area. All boundary roads, with the exception of the Steens Mountain Loop Road and Oregon State Highway 205 are low standard roads.
The WSA is a rolling, sloping, high desert plateau. The area contains a variety of topographic features, ranging from the dominant features of the Donner und Blitzen Wild and Scenic River Canyon, to the rolling open grasslands on the western side.
The WSA was initially studied under Section 603 of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA). Lands added after the wilderness inventory were studied under Section 202, also of FLPMA. These areas were included in the final Oregon Wilderness Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) filed in February 1990.