On Monday, October 30, 2000 President William J. Clinton signed the Steens Mountain Cooperative Management and Protection Act, establishing the Steens Mountain Wilderness and adding nearly 175,000 acres to Oregon’s inventory of protected wilderness lands (The Oregonian, 31 October 2000).
It took the threat of a national monument designation and hundreds of hours of sometimes contentious meetings, but Republicans and Democrats along with environmentalists and ranchers were able to craft legislation designating the acreage in southeast Oregon as the Steens Mountain Cooperative Management and Protection Area.
Ranchers and local residents received assurances they would have a say in how much of the public land around them is managed. Environmentalists secured nearly 100,000 acres of “no-grazing wilderness” on the 30-mile long ridge.
“I believe this sets a precedent that will be replicated time and time again to protect other extraordinary places, not only in my home state of Oregon but throughout the Western United States,” Democratic Rep. Peter DeFazio said Monday.
Credit: Steens Mountain photo by Sam Beebe / Ecotrust on Flickr. Used here under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) licence.