Proposal to balance management of important public lands is among the various options in the draft plan but is not at the top of BLM’s list
Today the Bureau of Land Management released the draft Southeast Oregon Resource Management Plan amendment that – when finalized –will guide land management decisions for more than 4.6 million acres of public lands in southeast Oregon over the next 20 years or more. This plan amendment has been underway since 2010 and will determine management on some of Oregon’s most scenic and recreationally important public lands overseen by the BLM’s Vale District office within the Owyhee and Malheur River country.
This is a significant step in the planning process and will help determine how and if habitat, outdoor recreation opportunities, and development are balanced on BLM land. In the draft plan the BLM proposes a variety of options for management and names one preferred alternative. In this case, the agency’s preferred path does not resemble recommendations made by the BLM’s own Southeast Oregon Resource Advisory Council (RAC), a group of 15 individuals selected by the BLM with diverse backgrounds who worked together for more than 5 years to develop recommendations for the plan.
“A broad-based BLM advisory group rolled up their sleeves to create a well-rounded alternative within the Southeast Oregon RMP amendment, but their recommendations are not reflected in the preferred alternative of the draft RMP amendment,” says Michael O’Casey, Oregon field representative with the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “We ask that the BLM honor this stakeholder process and adopt a balanced alternative in the final plan that conserves special places from development, while providing for access, habitat restoration, and ranching to continue.”
Popular public lands in eastern Oregon help fuel the state’s $2.5-billion fish and wildlife-based economy, provide important wildlife habitat, and support various traditional uses of the land. The Vale District manages most of the public lands within the Beulah (65), Malheur River (66), Owyhee (67) and Whitehorse (68) hunting units.
“Oregon’s Owyhee region is a critically important hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation destination,” says Karl Findling, owner of Oregon Pack Works and conservation lands director for the Oregon Hunters Association. “The BLM has an opportunity to do right by sportsmen and businesses and we are depending on them to incorporate measures in the final plan that will safeguard some of the best hunting areas in the state.”
“The BLM has an opportunity to safeguard some of Oregon’s best hunting areas and wildlife habitat through these land-use plans, and do it in a balanced way,” says Tristan Henry, board member with the Oregon chapter of the Backcountry Hunters & Anglers. “It’s a potential win-win for the varied wildlife we love to pursue, and will help ensure that our valued hunting heritage, outdoor traditions, and way of life can be enjoyed by future generations “
Now that the draft is published, the public has 90 days to make comments and have their voice heard. “Sportsmen and other stakeholders will continue to weigh in as these planning processes move forward,” continued O’Casey. “We hope the BLM will listen.”
Photo: Bureau of Land Management Oregon and Washington via Flickr