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Interior secretary tells ranchers he is ready to listen

By Pat Caldwell

The Enterprise

VALE – Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke recently told two members of a local advocacy group recently that he is ready to embrace change regarding rangeland policies and regulations.

Steve Russell, Malheur County rancher and chairman of the Owyhee Basin Stewardship Coalition, and coalition board member Mark Mackenzie met Zinke in Jacksonville for a fundraising dinner for Congressman Greg Walden.

Russell, whose group successfully lobbied against a national monument designation for the Owyhee Canyonlands, said he walked away from his meeting optimistic.

Russell said he only spoke to Zinke for a short time but was able to convey to the unique challenges ranchers face in Malheur County and across the West.

“The way I put it was we must get away from litigation and we need more flexibility and not so much regulation on federal lands,” Russell said.

Other challenges, such as water issues, wild horses and . . .