Increased access on our public lands is important to us. The 7,800 acres of road-accessible lands that currently exist in this John Day River area are fragmented, difficult to manage, and provide little benefit to the public. The consolidation of BLM lands in the Horse Heaven and Cathedral Rock wilderness proposal doubles public access and dramatically improves our ability to hike, hunt, raft, and fish in the John Day River Basin. During the peak rafting season along this portion of the river, BLM has recently permitted over 300 people per day. These river users will be able to utilize the existing and 4+ new riverfront public lands. Clearly the Cathedral Rock proposed wilderness area’s highest and best use is by the boaters of the John Day River, for fishing, hunting, camping and hiking. The larger Horse Heaven proposed wilderness area would provide over 9,400 acres of road-accessible BLM lands; a great asset to those who prefer to enjoy wilderness areas through hiking/backpacking/horseback riding. We thank you for your leadership by sponsoring this legislations and urge your continued support of the proposal that you introduced earlier this year.
Protect Horse Heaven and Cathedral Rock proposed wilderness
This landmark legislation opens up new public riverfront access on the Wild & Scenic John Day River, designates two new wilderness areas, and heralds the success of public-private land exchanges.
Thousands of acres of fragmented public lands would be consolidated into two large tracts of contiguous grassland, providing critical habitat connectivity for species such as bighorn sheep, elk, mule deer, salmon, steelhead, sage-grouse, and many sensitive plant species.
Situated along the lower John Day River near Antelope, Ore., the areas include dramatic basalt cliffs and rolling hills of sagebrush and native grasses.
The region offers stunning views and unparalleled recreational opportunities, including world-class boating, hiking, fishing and hunting.
The proposed legislation includes land exchanges among the BLM, USDA Forest Service (USFS), a large private landowner of the formerly known Big Muddy Ranch, and two other private landowners.
Land consolidation would allow public access to more than 18,000 acres of public land. Historically the majority of this fragmented public land has been enclosed by private ownership and unavailable to the public.
In addition, with more than four miles of the Wild and Scenic John Day River added to public ownership, public access for river users would be greatly expanded in this popular area.