Sunday, June 12, 2016

KEEN throws posh Portland party for Owyhee Canyonlands while Malheur County families fight wildfires to protect the land

Ontario, Ore. – KEEN Footwear is throwing a block party tonight to promote its corporate marketing campaign calling for a national monument in the Owyhee Canyonlands in a remote corner of southeast Oregon. Meanwhile, 400 miles southeast of Portland, Malheur County residents have been consumed with volunteer firefighting duties and an early rangeland fire season.

 KEEN and its partner, the Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA), will offer free beer, music and food trucks in Portland’s Pearl District. While KEEN and ONDA have been planning the “Live Monumental Block Party,” Malheur County residents were working through thick smoke and high winds to hold fire lines to prevent the season’s first wildfire from spreading and devastating the Owyhee Canyonlands.

“We are putting a fire out, that is our block party,” said Mark Mackenzie, board member of the Jordan Valley Rangeland Fire Protection Association and the Owyhee Basin Stewardship Coalition, which opposes a monument without a Congressional vote.

In the proposed Owyhee monument area, and in many parts of rural Oregon, rangeland fire protection associations work in partnership with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to fight fires. The volunteer firefighters are typically the first responders because they live in the area. On Sunday, one of 400 lightning strikes ignited the Owyhee Canyon Fire about 5 p.m. and eventually burned more than 20,000 acres. About 30 local residents who serve as volunteer firefighters were first on the scene, 38 miles southwest of Jordan Valley, with 11 fire trucks and water tenders. The crews stayed on scene until about 3 a.m. Monday morning.

“KEEN and ONDA are lobbying the president to impose more restrictions on our public lands in the Owyhee Canyonlands,” said Vicki Fretwell McConnell, an Arock rancher whose husband is a volunteer firefighter. “But where are ONDA and KEEN when we need the help on the ground? They’re at home on the other side of the mountain, living monumentally. It's our husbands, aunts, fathers, daughters, sons and friends who are out here trying to save the land.”

The Owyhee Basin Stewardship Coalition opposes a monument designation through executive order within Malheur County. The coalition gives families, recreationalists, businesses and everyone who loves the Owyhee Canyonlands the voice they deserve. Supporters can join the Owyhee Basin Stewardship Coalition and donate to the campaign at

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