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Owyhee Canyonlands Group Forms in Ontario

PHOTO: There's a lot to see and a lot of country to cover in the Owyhee Canyonlands, and a new group of outdoor enthusiasts based in Ontario is committed to doing just that. Photo credit: Chris Hansen
PHOTO: There's a lot to see and a lot of country to cover in the Owyhee Canyonlands, and a new group of outdoor enthusiasts based in Ontario is committed to doing just that. Photo credit: Chris Hansen
April 30, 2015

ONTARIO, Ore. – There's a new friends group in Oregon, dedicating time and sharing enthusiasm for the Owyhee Canyonlands.

Friends of the Owyhee is part of an informal network of individuals who volunteer to help preserve special places, while enjoying the camaraderie of like-minded people.

Tim Davis of Ontario, who founded the group, says he's inspired by the beauty and solitude of the vast desert landscape, and wants to see it protected at a time when it's becoming increasingly harder to find places to simply unplug.

"It's just trying to get people to open their eyes and really see what's there,” he adds. “There are studies out there saying that within the next 20-25 years, it's only going to be one of three spots in the continental United States that they'll be able to see the Milky Way – and you know, I think that's important for future generations to see."

In addition to the solitude, he says the area is home to several rare plants and is also rich in history.

The group is available for cleanup and trail maintenance projects to help local ranchers and land management agencies, and will also organize hikes and camping trips into the area.

Walter and Diane Rapaport of Burns went on the first trip, and Diane says the scenery was stunning.

"The canyon country that follows the Owyhee into the reservoir, the canyons of Leslie Gulch, are unbelievably beautiful with their big spires of orange,” she says. “The ride down into Birch Creek – spectacular, you wouldn't see it from a car."

Another year of drought means there won't be a rafting season in the Canyonlands, but the friends group says there are plenty of other options for recreation.

Friends of the Owyhee is hosting an introduction to the group and the Owyhee Canyonlands at 6 p.m. Monday in Ontario. Details are on the group's Facebook page.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR