Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Group continues push for Ochoco protection despite Bundy setback

The group seeking to stave off efforts to open the Ochoco National Forest and surrounding mountains to an extensive trail system for off-road vehicles is pressing on despite divisive opposition that’s apparently grown in recent weeks. Although the 845,000-acre national forest is already managed by federal agencies, a new proposed designation for 312,000 acres within it comes at a time of enhanced focus on the debate on turning over federal public lands to state and local governments to manage. When the Crook County Court on Thursday held a town hall on the proposal to add some wilderness designation and other protection to the Ochocos, the FBI was still trying to end an armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Eastern Oregon that has put attention on public land management. Sarah Cuddy, organizer for Oregon Wild’s effort to get Congress to create the Ochoco Mountains National Recreation Area in Crook and Wheeler counties, said the armed standoff has created a noticeable shift in the environmental group’s effort to find support in the community. “There was a change in tone in the conversation after the Malheur issues that started a few weeks ago,” Cuddy said Friday. “The conversation has become just a lot more polarized and divisive.” Several hundred people showed up to a meeting on the Ochoco national recreation area proposal Thursday night in Prineville, many of whom spoke against Oregon Wild’s proposal, Bartlett said. The proposal would add around 25,000 acres of wilderness protection. It would freeze the trail system that’s in place and prevent new trails for motorized users...more

Nice try, attempting to paint opponents of Wilderness as Bundy supporters.  Doubt if it will work, but others should be prepared for this tactic.

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