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Businesses Support Protecting Owyhee Canyonlands

Owyhee Canyonlands in southeastern Oregon. Credit: Jeremy Fox
Owyhee Canyonlands in southeastern Oregon. Credit: Jeremy Fox
October 14, 2015

PORTLAND, Ore. - More than 100 businesses big and small are urging Oregon's congressional delegation to protect the Owyhee Canyonlands in southeastern Oregon. They say outdoor recreation generates $12.8 billion in consumer spending and is critical to the state's economy.

Dan Cherry, communications director for the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association, said people come from all over the world to experience one of Oregon's last wild and pristine places.

"They're spending money on gear, they're supporting our businesses," he said. "The outdoors here are just amazing, and it's not only fishing - it's hunting, it's hiking, it's climbing."

The roughly 2.5 million acres is twice the size of Yellowstone National Park and is the largest undeveloped, unprotected expanse in the lower 48 states.

Cherry said fishing on Oregon's public lands accounts for 7,200 jobs and brings in around $450 million a year.

"The outdoor economy in general is due to public lands," he said. "We're looking at somewhere around the $6 billion range. That's a pretty good chunk of change."

Portland-based KEEN Footwear's campaign, called Live Monumental, has been pressing the Obama administration to create a new national monument in the Owyhee Canyonlands. Marketing specialist Kirsten Blackburn said there was strong support for Owyhee at a town hall meeting in Portland on Tuesday.

"It was full of different voices - the sportsman voice, the business voice, the tourism voice," she said. "and it was pretty loud and clear that Oregonians really think highly of their public lands and would love to see more protected."

Enterprises from large employers to small-business owners have signed onto letters to U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., urging him to support permanent protection for the Owyhee Canyonlands.

More information is online at wildowyhee.org.

Lori Abbott, Public News Service - OR