From its headwaters in Oregon’s Strawberry Mountain Range to its confluence with the Columbia River, the John Day River drains nearly 8,100 square miles in the central and northeastern parts of the state.
The river, running between the Ochoco and Blue Mountains east of the Cascades, is the second-longest free-flowing river in the continental United States. In 1988, Congress recognized its importance by protecting nearly 150 miles of it under the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.
The river provides vitally important habitat for several struggling native salmon and trout species, including spring and fall runs of chinook salmon and summer steelhead, westslope cutthroat, interior redband, and endangered bull trout. Conservation of the lands along the John Day would accomplish several goals of the Mid-Columbia Steelhead Recovery Plan: promoting habitat protection and riverbank restoration, ultimately setting the stage for recovery of these important fish populations.
Although Bureau of Land Management (BLM) holdings in the John Day Basin include several Wilderness Study Areas, many thousands of acres of valuable roadless areas remain unprotected. Pew is working with partner organizations including the Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA) to protect these pieces of our natural heritage in the state and across the West. Recently, two Pew staff members explored the region with an ONDA employee.
Join Pew staff on a virtual hike through the John Day region: