Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Access & Economics: Concerns on Owyhee Canyonlands proposal

Oregon Natural Desert Association, Keen Footwear and other supporters are proposing a National Conservation Area (Monument) consisting of 2,579,032 acres within Malheur County. Some 2,012,350 acres will be designated as wilderness, and 50 miles as wild and scenic river. The area constitutes 47 percent of all federal land in Malheur County and is 1,279,032 acres larger than all privately owned land in the county. The area proposed is, in a word, massive. By closing even a few roads, public access, other than by foot or possibly horseback, will be denied to hundreds of thousands of acres. These areas are used to graze cattle, hunt, fish, sightsee, camp and ride ATVs. According to Oregon State University’s Economic Information Office, Malheur County ranks first in beef production value in Oregon. Negatively affecting that segment of the county’s economy will be disastrous for the county tax base, all of its businesses, schools and protective services. The communities, the county or the state can ill afford the losses in revenue that will occur due to ONDA’s overreaching proposal. Road closures will harm, not help, non-agricultural activities and the businesses they patronize. Deer, elk, antelope, big horn sheep, upland bird and varmint hunters, along with anglers, will be denied access, leaving them, in some instances, 40 or more miles from the places they and their families have hunted and fished for generations...more

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