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Murtha Ranch

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

The barn at Murtha Ranch, Cottonwood Canyon State Park (bobcat)


The 8,000 acre Murtha Ranch was purchased by the Western Rivers Conservancy in 2008, who then sold it, in a process that began in 2009, to Oregon State Parks to begin the formation of Cottonwood Canyon State Park. The conservancy's objective was to ensure the protection of grassland bird, mammal, and reptile species as well as keep the waters of the John Day pristine. The former ranch land is home to Oregon's largest herd of bighorn sheep and the river here offers world-class steelhead and smallmouth bass fishing.

The Murtha family ran cattle here and on adjacent BLM land for generations. Flats along the John Day, Oregon's longest undammed river, were cultivated. In the main ranch complex, now the day-use area for Cottonwood Canyon State Park, you can follow interpretive signs past a barn and windmill. There's also a new visitor center and covered picnic area as well as some rusting farm equipment.

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