By Mac McLean

The Bulletin

If you go

What: Bonnie Olin talks about her adventures in the Owyhee Canyonlands

When: noon on Tuesday at the Sisters Public Library, 110 North Cedar St.,

6 p.m. on Tuesday at the Downtown Bend Public Library, 601 NW Wall St.,

noon on Wednesday at the Redmond Public Library, 827 SW Deschutes Ave.

Cost: Free

Contact: Visit www.deschuteslibrary.org

Bonnie Olin spent eight days kayaking through the upper Owyhee Canyonlands with her husband, Mike Quigley, in 1993.

“That was a life-changing event for me,” said Olin, who has visited this remote place more than 40 times since her first trip, wrote a book about her experiences and is now working to protect it. “I was hooked on the great beauty of the place, and felt compelled to write about it.”

Located at the junction of Idaho, Nevada and Oregon, the Owyhee Canyonlands is a desert ecosystem that spans more than 9 million acres along the banks of the Owyhee River and its tributaries in Idaho, Nevada and Oregon. It was once called the “Grand Canyon of Oregon” by Time Magazine and is home to more than 200 species of wildlife and more than 500 archaeological sites that are still visited by members of the Shoshone and Paiute Indians.

The region is remote — Olin and her husband spend two to three hours making their way down the last 10 to 20 miles of unfinished roads leading to their favorite put-in or take-out points — and extremely difficult to reach.

Olin said the canyonlands’ remoteness is a good thing because it limits the number of people who visit the area and may intentionally or unintentionally damage its fragile desert environment. But it’s also a bad thing, she said, because people are usually less motivated to protect, or encourage their elected officials to protect, areas with which they don’t have a direct connection.

Olin and Quigley sought to solve this problem when they wrote and published “The Owyhee River Journals” in January 2013.

“The primary purpose of my book was to raise awareness of the great bounty in this region in hopes people might find it worthy of protecting in the future,” Olin said of the book, which features Quigley’s photographs from the area along with journal entries she wrote chronicling 15 of their trips.

Olin and her husband also developed an hourlong presentation — including a video they shot while on a 2006 kayaking/hiking tour of the region — discussing their trips in the canyonlands that they’ve given at venues across the Pacific Northwest since April 2013. Olin will give such presentations this coming week at three Central Oregon locations (see “If you go”).

Continuing her efforts to protect the area, Olin said she also uses these presentations to talk about the Oregon Natural Desert Association’s attempts to have a 1.9 million- acre section of the canyonlands declared a wilderness area so it will be around for future generations to enjoy.

This would be the third time the federal government has taken steps to protect the canyonlands.

In 1984, the U.S. Congress set out to protect the Owyhee River’s free-flowing character by adding a 120-mile section of it to the bodies of water protected by the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968.

It also passed legislation designating three sections of the canyonlands in southwest Idaho wilderness areas in 2009. These three sections — the North Fork Wilderness Area, the Owyhee Wilderness Area and the Pole Creek Wilderness Area — stretch over more than 323,000 acres.

— Reporter: 541-617-7816, mmclean@bendbulletin.com

10098247