The more than 2 million acres of Owyhee desert and canyon land in Southeast Oregon is the largest unprotected area in the state — something that the Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA) would very much like to change. ONDA’s executive director, Brent Fenty, says the area has been under consideration off and on for national monument designation since the Clinton administration, but he also favors a Congressional proposal to make the area a wilderness and national conservation area.
Oregon Republican Rep. Cliff Bentz says a recent community meeting he convened drew 580, most of whom were were opposed to federal protection. Many were concerned that protections would have a negative economic impact in the area and prevent the kind of recreation and other activity communities are entitled to.
- Brent Fenty: Executive director of the Oregon Natural Desert Association
- Cliff Bentz: Oregon Republican Congressman from Ontario
Editor’s note: U.S. Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) were both invited to be part of this discussion; they were both unable to join us.