Proposed Plan Protects 400,000 Acres in Southeastern OR
Monday, June 19, 2023
A newly released management plan for the Owyhee landscape in Oregon will bring greater protections for more than 400,000 acres of public land.
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management's proposed Southeastern Oregon Resource Management Plan Amendment has been 20 years in the making. It protects 400,000 acres for their wilderness value.
Julie Weikel was a member of the Southeast Oregon Resource Advisory Council, which helped develop the plan. She said protections are critical for wildlife in the region.
"With respect to climate change," said Weikel, "it's going to be absolutely essential to have these big intact pieces of landscape in order for wildlife to figure out how to survive."
Weikel said the region is a crucial wildlife corridor and also important habitat for sage grouse. She said more needs to be done to protect the landscape, but called the plan a major step forward.
A 30 day period began on Friday, when the plan was published, for anyone who wants to protest it. Gov. Tina Kotek's office has 60 days to review the plan.
Founder and Executive Director of Friends of the Owyhee Tim Davis said the plan will help protect the Owyhee watershed, which in turn benefits agriculture.
"The farmlands that rely on that watershed produces over a billion bags of onions annually, and there's 150,000 acres of farmland from that watershed," said Davis. "So, it's pretty critical to keep that watershed healthy."
Davis said the proposed plan will play an important role in the region.
"It's just one step to preserving this landscape for our future generations to enjoy," said Davis, "and know that they have a healthy landscape in their backyard right here."
Support for this reporting was provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts.
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