BAKER CITY, OREGON - One of our nation's greatest treasures is the National Wilderness Preservation System established by the Wilderness Act of 1964. This year, that monumental piece of legislation celebrated its 50th Anniversary. The Wallowa-Whitman National Forest has four designated wilderness areas: Eagle Cap, Hells Canyon, and portions of the Monument Rock and North Fork of the John Day that are shared with the adjacent Umatilla and Malheur National Forests, totaling 598,600 acres.
The Hells Canyon Wilderness within the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area straddles the border between Oregon and central Idaho. At the heart of the wilderness, the Seven Devils Mountains separate the Salmon River Canyon from Hells Canyon, the deepest river gorge in North America. The 13-acre Bald Eagle Lode, which is perched on a saddle in this craggy mountain range was purchased by the Wilderness Land Trust last year. This property was the last remaining parcel of private land located within the Hells Canyon Wilderness boundary in Idaho. The Trust recently transferred the land to public ownership, through a sale to the United States Forest Service, guaranteeing that hunters, anglers, horsepackers, and hikers can enjoy the popular trail that travels through this area.
“We are pleased with the outcome of this important land purchase in the Hells Canyon Wilderness and National Recreation Area. The consolidation of these lands will provide for more efficient resource management and provide greater certainty for public access and quality recreation. We appreciate the work the Wilderness Land Trust and supporters provided to make this purchase a reality,” says Kris Stein, Hells Canyon NRA District Ranger.
“While the property is only 13 acres, its protection secures 217,000 acres of surrounding wilderness. The Trust celebrates completion of this wilderness in Idaho, fulfilling the original promise of the Hells Canyon Wilderness designation,” said David Kirk, Senior Lands Specialist at the Trust.
Participate in the Blue Mountain Wilderness Passport Project
As part of the 50th Anniversary celebration, the Wallowa-Whitman, Umatilla, and Malheur National Forests have created an Eastern Oregon Wilderness Passport project for our wilderness enthusiasts. The Eastern Oregon Wilderness Passport has a page for each of the seven Wilderness areas in Eastern Oregon (Hells Canyon, Eagle Cap, Wenaha-Tucannon, North Fork of the Umatilla, North Fork of the John Day, Strawberry Mountain, and Monument Rock).
To participate in the Blue Mountain Wilderness Passport Project, pick up a free passport at any of the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest office locations listed at the end of this news release; then get out there and enjoy your wilderness (perhaps after the snow melts in the spring). After visiting one of your Wilderness areas, stop by a district or supervisor’s office and have the Wilderness passport page stamped with the unique stamp for that particular Wilderness area.
Whitman Ranger District
541-742-7511 (Pine Field Office)
La Grande Ranger District
Wallowa Mountains Office
Hells Canyon National Recreation Area