Article by HUNTER MARROW, The Argus Observer
9:12 a.m. PDT April 6, 2016.
Click here for the link to the article in the Statesman Journal.
JORDAN VALLEY, Ore. (AP) — About 300 concerned ranchers, residents and county officials piled into the Jordan Valley high school gymnasium over the weekend to participate in a town hall held by U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., on the topic of federal land management policies in the Owyhee Canyonlands.
Everybody who spoke expressed some degree of disagreement with a proposed 2.5 million acre national monument in the area. A coalition of environmental groups is advocating for a monument, which can be created by the president of the United States.
The issue raised by ranchers who attended the event came down to the effect that possible future regulations on grazing would have on their livelihoods if the canyonlands monument proposal comes through. Environmental groups have maintained no such regulations would come into play if the monument is created.
“The canyonlands proposal would encroach upon 100 percent of my land,” said Elias Elguren, a cattle rancher and treasurer of the Owyhee Basin Stewardship Coalition. “If this went through, I would need to reconsider my entire business.”
The coalition he is part of is being built with local communities in mind and has started a fundraising campaign in that effort, “to ensure that local communities are included in the future of the Owyhee Canyonlands and that Congress has a vote in the process,” according to a news release by the coalition.
While the president can declare an area a national monument — President Barack Obama has approved 19 during his time in office — it takes an act of Congress to create wilderness. An alternate proposal by the Owyhee Coalition, led by the Oregon Natural Desert Association and other environmental groups, seeks a combination of wilderness, wild and scenic river, and conservation designations. That plan also totals 2.5