As Oregonians continue to face challenges of catastrophic wildfires, the coronavirus pandemic, economic uncertainty and severe weather shifts, we’ve seen how vital public lands are to people’s well-being and way-of-life.
Oregonians now have an important opportunity—over five decades in the making—to protect the beautiful, wild, culturally significant and ecologically invaluable Owyhee Canyonlands.
The Malheur Community Empowerment for Owyhee Act (S.2828), sponsored by Sens. Wyden and Merkley, provides Malheur County with vital economic development opportunities that support local economies and communities, while safeguarding the Owyhee Canyonlands and surrounding public lands for recreation and wildlife habitat for current and future generations.
The bill is the result of Sen. Wyden bringing together people with different perspectives—and a shared love of the Owyhee—to find solutions for managing and protecting this area. In the face of pressing issues like climate change and rampant fire cycles, this pragmatic bill breaks decades of gridlock and makes tangible progress when Oregonians need it most.
Imminent development threats would be shut down, thanks to provisions that protect the most threatened and special public lands in Malheur County. And this bill also provides economic development opportunities for rural communities at a time when they need it most.
The passage earlier this year of the Great American Outdoors Act demonstrated that in these divisive times, public lands bring all Americans together to find common ground. This bill can do the same.
S.2828 is supported by local ranchers, sportsmen and women, businesses and conservation groups. It will benefit Oregon’s economy, rural communities and public lands for generations to come. We urge Sens. Wyden and Merkley to continue working with Congressional leaders and Oregonians who care about this place to refine and pass legislation in 2020, and the Oregon House delegation to introduce companion legislation in the House of Representatives.