Feds, Environmentalists Want to Do WHAT to Eastern Oregon Ranchlands?
The Oregon Wildlife Refuge protestors were just the latest event in an ongoing decades-old battle between the federal government and environmentalists, and local citizens and ranchers in Eastern Oregon. Now, environmentalists want to take away a huge chunk of grazing and recreation land.
Sunday, over 300 people gathered in Jordan Valley, OR for a public meeting about a proposed national monument that would set aside some 2.5 million acres in Malheur County (over 3900 square miles), and remove it from grazing or many types of recreation.
Oregon Rep. Greg Walden, who attended the meeting, said he is opposed to the idea for a variety of reasons. He says the proposed national monument would be larger than the state of Rhode Island and Maryland combined, bigger than the Grand Canyon National Park. He agrees with local citizens such a designation would hurt ranchers and recreationists. While it is considered a scenic area, unlike the Grand Canyon, this land serves many purposes, including grazing for cattle and other agricultural tasks.
Walden said restricted grazing rights would follow as would a lack of land management. Walden said when used by ranchers and others, the land is taken care of by the ranchers themselves. Grazing helps control the levels of flammable materials and fuel. Without land management as a historic monument, Walden says the chance for fires to destroy the lands is far greater. That would affect the nesting and home grounds of a wide variety of birds and other animals.
According to officials, under present law, President Obama and designate certain areas as historic monuments without Congressional approval. Critics of the plan say it's just another thinly disguised land grab by environmental groups who are influencing federal officials. So far, Walden says there's very little if any movement on the proposal, but citizens in the area are concerned, especially after the bitter standoff in the Malheur Wildlife Refuge.