Owyhee legislation that addresses issues facing both people and the land recently passed the Senate and is scheduled for a vote in the House. The Nature Conservancy is hopeful that this legislation will pass, creating a hopeful future for people and nature in the Owyhees. Eight years ago, The Nature Conservancy joined a group of conservationists, ranchers and recreationists to create a package addressing conservation, wilderness designation, the area's ranching heritage and outdoor recreation.
A lot of excitement surrounded that first meeting. And then the long, hard work of building consensus began. It wasn't always easy.
The result of that hard work is evident in the legislation: It would, among many other things, establish the first wilderness in Idaho in nearly 30 years. About 500, 000 acres of wilderness would be established in the Owyhees, protecting one of hte largest and most intact sagebrush habitats left in the West. The package also calls for a wide range of conservation measures, including acquistion of private lands in some wilderness areas and better management of off-road vehicle use.
The Conservancy recognizes the Owyhees as one of its highest priorities. During the course of the Owyhee Initiative, the Conservancy has worked with partners to establish cooperative weed management areas, protect sage grouse habitat and restore burned areas.