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Does Malheur County Want A National Monument In The Owyhee?


Conservationists have talked about creating a federally protected wilderness in the area for decades. The remote sagebrush steppe country includes scenic canyon lands and geologic features, and is celebrated for its rugged character.

Voters in Malheur County will decide Tuesday whether they want a national monument in the Owyhee Canyonlands in southeast Oregon.

Malheur County commissioners oppose a monument, so they wanted to put the idea to citizens.

The ballot measure asks voters if they think two-and-a-half million acres of the Owyhee should be designated as a national monument.



Tim Davis leads the grassroots group Friends of the Owyhee in Malheur County. He’s voting in favor of a monument. “There’s not a lot of areas like this left in the United States to where you can get out and be away from Wi-Fi signals and cell phone signals and hear nothing but quiet,” Davis said.

Conservation proposals for wilderness or monument designations in the Owyhee have also drawn fierce local opposition during recent public meetings.

President Obama has not given any indication that he in fact plans to designate the Owyhee a national monument, as some conservationists propose. Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell said last week that she is not aware of any coordination between her office and the White House on a monument proposal.

 

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