Conservation groups want to open discussions on canyonlands

A coalition of environmental groups wants to begin formal meetings with a local land advocacy federation about the future of the Owyhee Canyonlands. (The Enterprise/file).

VALE – An alliance of environmental groups wants to begin talks with a local range advocacy organization about future of the Owyhee Canyonlands and federal land policies.

In a Sept. 4 letter, the Owyhee Coalition called for a series of meetings with the Owyhee Basin Stewardship Coalition.

The Owyhee Coalition consists of seven conservation organizations that had sought to establish a federal monument of the Canyonlands, pressing that as the best way to preserve the resources.

The stewardship group, made up 300 paying members and claiming another 11,000 supporters, organized to oppose the monument designation in favor of more local control. They successfully blocked the federal designation in 2017.

The two sides have been divided for several years over how best to preserve the Canyonlands.

 “We feel like that there is some common ground, especially around values but even some of the rangeland health issues,” said David Moryc, a leader of the conservation coalition. He also is senior director of wild and scenic rivers and public lands policy for American Rivers.

“For far too long, each side has kind of gone around and around and back and forth and we think it’s time we actually get together,” said Moryc.

In July, the Stewardship Coalition issued a white paper that outlined its proposal for locally controlled range management of federal lands in Malheur County.

Elias Eiguren, a Jordan Valley rancher and treasurer for the stewardship group, said Friday morning that his organization welcomes a discussion with the conservationists.

“We’ve been open to conversations the entire time OBSC has been in existence,” said Eiguren.

Moryc said it is important the two sides – divided over how to manage millions of acres of rangeland across the county – begin formal talks.

“If we could hash out everyone’s priorities maybe we will end up where we are but my guess is we may at least build some trust,” said Moryc.

No specific time or place was announced for a meeting.


Reporter Pat Caldwell: [email protected] or 541-473-3377.