Owyhee River Canyon Wilderness Study Area

Wilderness Study Area

The Owyhee River Canyon WSA (ID-16-48B/OR-3-195) is located in Owyhee County, Idaho, and Malheur County, Oregon, about 90 miles southwest of Boise, Idaho. The WSA includes 34,980 acres of BLM land in Idaho and 190,700 acres of BLM land in Oregon. The BLM acreage includes 10,380 acres of split-estate lands (federal surface and state subsurface) in Oregon and 1,280 acres acquired from the State of Idaho in 1987 after the area was designated as a WSA. There are 120 acres of private inholdings in Oregon.

Within Idaho, 82 percent of the 41-mile circumference is bounded by primitive dirt roads and fence lines, while the remainder is along nonfederal property lines. Within Oregon, 74 percent of the mile circumference is bounded mostly by primitive dirt roads, gravel roads and water pipelines with service roads while the remainder is along nonfederal property lines. Five cherry-stem roads (20.3 miles) enter the WSA. The southeastern part of the WSA adjoins ID-16-53/NV-010-103A. The southern part adjoins OR-3-173 and OR-3-194.

The WSA consists of a flat-to-gently rolling sagebrush, bitterbrush and bunchgrass-covered plateau dissected by 126 miles of canyons including 74 miles of the Owyhee River, ten miles of the South Fork Owyhee River and 37 miles of the West Little Owyhee River. The canyons are 500 to 1,000 feet deep, narrow and meandering. Portions of the canyons that are not sheer-walled are covered with sagebrush and bunchgrasses while the riparian areas consist of narrow bands of lush grasses, rushes and sedges.

The WSA was studied under Section 603 of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) and was included in the Owyhee Canyonlands Wilderness Environmental Impact Statement filed in October 1989. This report was prepared by Idaho BLM and included in the Idaho Wilderness Study Report. Two 640-acre inholdings acquired from the State of Idaho, 640 acres of recently acquired BLM land adjacent to the WSA, and 10,380 acres of estate land in Oregon were included in the study process under the authority granted in Section 202 of FLPMA.

OR/WA Wilderness Study Areas Flickr album
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Leave No Trace

Please follow the regulations in place for this area, and use Leave No Trace techniques when visiting to ensure protection of its unique natural and experiential qualities. How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (e.g. eastern Oregon vs. western Oregon). Visit https://lnt.org/why/7-principles/ to learn more about the principles listed below and how they apply.

  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
  2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly
  4. Leave What You Find
  5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
  6. Respect Wildlife
  7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors