Some of Oregon’s most colorful hills could see increased protections under legislation introduced Thursday.
Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley is proposing to create 58,000 new acres of Wilderness covering the Painted Hills and Sutton Mountain. The area is located northeast of Prineville in Eastern Oregon.
The bill also proposes a 2000-acre land transfer from the Bureau of Land Management to Wheeler County for economic development projects, like a new RV park.
ldquo;This is a pretty good example of environmental preservation and economic growth operating hand in hand,” Merkley said on a call with reporters. He said the designation would boost tourism in the area.
The proposed wilderness area is currently managed by the BLM, and is an active livestock grazing area. Grazing could continue if Congress approves the legislation, but activities like road-building and motorized recreation would be prohibited.
The proposal has the support of the Wheeler County Government and the nearby town of Mitchell.