By Scotta Callister
Sheriff Brian Wolfe says more workshops are in store for people wanting to write letters in opposition to the Owyhee Canyonlands national monument proposal.
Wolfe spoke last week at the Vale Chamber of Commerce meeting, held at the Sagebrush on March 24.
He said the first two letter-writing workshops, held early that week, drew a good crowd of interested people in Ontario and Jordan Valley.
The meetings were done with donated supplies and volunteer help, and not with any county funds.
Wolf said some of the people wanted to write but were not up to speed on computer writing, while others wanted some facts and addresses for their comments.
About a dozen volunteers were on hand with laptops to work with people who needed help writing letters.
Wolfe said at least two more letter workshops are planned, one in Vale and one in Adrian in April.
He noted the recent advisory vote on the Canyonlands proposal, which was a landslide against the monument.
“Ninety percent thought it was not a good idea,” Wolfe said. “Even if it were a good idea, not at 2.5 million acres.”
Wolfe said people need to offer their views as the monument could become a reality before Obama leaves office. Unlike a wilderness declaration, which requires a lengthy process through Congress, a monument can be declared by a president through the Antiquities Act.
Wolfe said the Canyonland area already has seven layers of federal protection in place, and he worries more restrictions will limit grazing and road access.
“The public lands should be open to the public,” he said.
He said he recently asked state Sen. Ted Ferrioli if comments from the local public will do any good.
“His response was yes, it definitely does – The more, the better,” Wolfe said. “We need to make sure our voices are being heard.”
The monument proposal is supported by the Oregon Natural Desert Association, Portland-based Keen Footwear, and other conservation groups in the Owyhee Canyonlands Campaign.
Opposing it is the Owyhee Basin Stewardship Coalition, which earlier this month launched a website at ourlandourvoice.com. The site includes a petition, information about the proposal, a map, a donate button and more.