What the Owyhees Mean to Me

Tim Davis grew up a stone's throw from the Owyhee Canyonlands in Adrian. Now a father of five, Tim lives up the road in Ontario. Here he reflects on what the Owyhee country means to him and what he would like to leave for his children.

I grew up in the metropolis of Adrian, Oregon. I grew up in the same house until I moved out on my own. Growing up I had the view of Three Fingers, Succor Creek Canyon and the Owyhee Mountains of Idaho from the window of my bedroom. As a kid I camped at Succor Creek State Park just about every October starting from the age of 3 months old, and as I grew up my parents took me up the lower Owyhee Canyon to Owyhee Reservoir and the surrounding hills near Adrian quite often.

 I view the Owyhees like my house growing up. Coming back, you hope to see the same house from your childhood never change as you become an adult. The Lower Owyhee and Succor Creek were like the front door of my house. It is the first thing you see when entering the house. By my late 20s I was exploring deeper into the Owyhees, just like when you’re just getting to the crawling stage and start exploring the rest of your house.

When I was growing up I had seen pictures from all over the Owyhees, and the beauty of what was out there fascinated me. But a picture doesn’t do it justice until you see it in person. It’s like showing someone a picture of that one-of-kind painting your grandparent painted on your living room wall, but you have to look at the brush strokes and small details to really appreciate it. Things you don’t want to see done to your one-of-a-kind painting are to have crayon or pen on it. The same applies to the Owyhee. If large power lines, wind-energy or large mining operations were there it would create view blocks to the open spaces and light up one of the last unprotected areas of the United States that has no light pollution. It would be unfixable damage to that painting.

As you grow up in your house, you’re constantly hearing your parents telling you stories of growing up in that home, good and bad, and some of it is forgotten. Occasionally you notice little scars on your body and marks in the walls of the house that tell you something happened. Sometimes your parents tell you the story about how those marks came to be. Sometimes they don’t remember. When I got into exploring the Owyhee, I really got into reading the history, all the good and bad clear back to the time of the Native Americans in the area. There is so much history in the Owyhees that some of it has been lost, just like the scars and marks on your skin and walls. Sometimes you research and find the history just like your parents remembering the story behind the scars and marks.

Sometimes that childhood home needs things done to it to protect it like paint or shingles. Your house changes a little but it stays the same house you grew up in. This applies to ranching. Ranching has been a way of life in the Owyhees since the 1860s and some families have been in this country since then. They are worried about their way of life, but if the Owyhees were protected their way of life would be maintained, just like you would to your house. Painting changes your house a little and protecting the Owyhees would change ranching a little, but it would still be the same; life is full of small changes.

I hope that one day the Owyhee is protected. I hope to keep the same memories, like growing up in the same house. I hope that when my kids are my age they can see the Owyhees the way it was when I was growing up. I view the Owyhee as home and as I get older I hope my home never changes and my kids can see the home I grew up in.

-- Tim Davis