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Owyhee Canyonlands Needs Congressional Support To Become Protected Wilderness

Jeremy Fox/Owyhee Coalition.

A new proposal to protect about 2 million acres of the Owyhee Canyonlands in Eastern Oregon needs a sponsor in Congress to move forward.

Half of the proposed region is already designated as a Wilderness Study Area. The biggest opposition so far has come from ranchers. Brent Fenty is with the Oregon Natural Desert Association. He says farmers shouldn't be concerned about the future of grazing rights under the proposal.

Fenty: "The proposal is not really focused on livestock grazing," he points out. "It's focused on addressing some of the development pressures in the area, including mining and oil-and-gas development in the future, as well as the ATV impacts in the region over the past couple decades."

The oil and gas drilling industry in Idaho has some Oregonians concerned the trend will move west. Representative Earl Blumenauer has expressed support for the Owyhee Canyonlands Wilderness area. But the region is in Republican Greg Walden's district, who opposes establishing it is as a monument.

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