John Day River - Cottonwood Canyon

Creating Oregon's wildest state park and conserving a stronghold for native salmon and steelhead

In 2008, WRC purchased 16,000 acres along both sides of the John Day River. It conveyed the land to Oregon Parks and Recreation Department to create Cottonwood Canyon State Park, the second largest in Oregon. (Photo by Dave Jensen)

The John Day River is home to one of the Pacific Northwest's healthiest runs of wild summer steelhead. WRC's efforts on the lower river conserve critical habitat for both steelhead and native spring Chinook. (Photo by Shelley Banks)

WRC's acquisition on the John Day opened public access to over 16 miles of riverbank on both sides of the river. (Photo by Peter Marbach)

Shrub-steppe grasslands are quickly disappearing from the western landscape. WRC's efforts on the John Day protected a vast area of shrub-steppe, important habitat for Pronghorn antelope (pictured) and bighorn sheep. (Photo by Steve Terrill)

Conservationist and WRC supporter Randy Labbe wades back to shore after a morning of steelhead fishing in Cottonwood Canyon State Park. WRC opened angler access to areas of the river that were formerly closed to the public.

By acquiring a 16,000-acre ranch, WRC was able to ensure the long-term health of a large part of the lower John Day and an expansive sweep of native grassland. (Photo by Dave Jensen)

(Photo by Gary Braasch)

Cliff swallows are a common sight along the lower John Day, where massive basalt cliffs tower over the river. (Photo by Steve Terrill)

Steelheader and conservationist, Anne Tattam, fishes her way through a run on the lower John Day. (Photo by Russ Schnitzer)

The John Day River is the longest free-flowing river west of the Rockies and the second longest in the Lower 48. Big summer moons, wide open skies, and spectacular sunsets define this outstanding western stream. (Photo by Peter Marbach)