John Day Headwaters – Public Access

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Northeast Oregon is prime elk country.

It is here, some 150 miles east of Bend and just south of Prairie City that the Strawberry Mountains stand as a centerpiece of the Malheur National Forest and form a large part of Oregon’s famous Blue Mountains.

Hundreds of tiny springs, small streams and snowmelt flow together as headwaters of the John Day River, the longest free-flowing river west of the Continental Divide.

It provides key riparian habitat for a range of fish, bird and animal species but the countryside is also grade-A habitat for elk, mule deer, mountain goats, upland birds and other wildlife.

Gazing across the 40-mile landscape of what was the John Day Headwaters project, highlighted a confusing and cumbersome alternating grid of private and public land ownership.

Access was simply not possible.

But the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation headed up a collaborative effort to conserve and open public access to more than 13,000 acres of this land and, in doing so, improved access to surrounding public land for hunters, anglers, hikers and others to use and enjoy.

Opening and improving public access lies at the heart of RMEF’s conservation mission.

To learn more about RMEF access projects in your area turn on the RMEF layer in the onX Hunt App to view project sites and boundaries.

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