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January 29, 2010 / Greg Vaughn

Cathedral Rock and Horse Heaven Wilderness proposal

John Day River and Cathdral Rock Oregon

The Wild & Scenic John Day River at Cathedral Rock

For the past couple of years, the Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA) has been working to bring together landowners in the John Day River Basin and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in a partnership that will result in both increased protection and better public access for some wonderful territory in north central Oregon. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley just introduced the Cathedral Rock and Horse Heaven Wilderness Act of 2010 in Congress, which, if passed, will give these areas federal Wilderness status.

The John Day River is one of Oregon’s major waterways and flows for 280 miles from the Strawberry Mountains in eastern Oregon, crosses much of the central part of the state and then turns north to empty into the Columbia River east of The Dalles. Undammed for its entire length, the John Day is the third longest free-flowing river in the contiguous United States, and is designated both a National Wild & Scenic River and an Oregon Scenic Waterway.

I’ve had the pleasure of rafting the John Day River through some of this proposed wilderness area and can attest that it is truly some outstanding country. Great wildlife and wildflower habitat and lots of recreation opportunities for hiking, fishing, hunting, birdwatching and photography. It’s also a wonderful place to go if you just want a few days of peaceful relaxation.

Please take a minute to thank Senators Wyden and Merkley for their efforts, and to encourage Representative Greg Walden to support this legislation. And thank the folks at ONDA for all the great stuff they do, too. (If the links aren’t evident, click HERE).

For more photos of the river, please see my PhotoShelter John Day River Gallery. Photographers might want to check my book Photographing Oregon for more sites to visit in the John Day Basin.


One Comment

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  1. Devon / Feb 22 2010 2:36 pm


    Thanks for the props! Love your pictures. ONDA staff will be in Eugene for E-Law next week if you want to drop in.

    I think you should send in some photos for ONDA’s 2011 Calendar…


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