Monday, March 02, 2009

Hells Canyon, Oregon

The Nature Conservancy has been working in Hells Canyon in Idaho since 1987, when it acquired approximately 15,000 acres of land. Since that time, the Conservancy has been working to detect and control weeds in this stunning landscape, which includes the deepest canyon in North America.

Across the river in Oregon, another Hells Canyon conservation success has been announced.

There, the Nature Conservancy has purchased 27 parcels of private land located primarily in the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area. Surrounded by National Forest, these lands are home to Oregon's largest herd of Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep.

The U.S. Forest Service proposes to acquire the properties from the Conservancy using funds dedicated to land purchases. Public ownership would ensure public access for fishing, hunting and hiking on lands previously closed to the public.

The 27 land parcels, totaling 6,673 acres, are private inholdings surrounded by National Forest, concentrated mainly along seven miles of the Imnaha River and six miles of tributary creeks.

Hells Canyon is big, big country, the kind of place that can humble and scare you. It's a land of bighorns and rattlesnakes, jaw-dropping vistas and wide-open spaces, wildflowers and rugged cliffs. It's a great place for people and for animals.

Acquisitions like the one announced by the Conservancy's Oregon Chapter will keep it that way.

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