Walden Language to Protect Steens Mountain Landowners Approved by House
Monday, August 1 2005
Language calls for full access to private property
WASHINGTON, DC - The U.S. House of Representatives last week approved legislation which included a provision requested by U.S. Representative Greg Walden (R-OR) in which the Congress expresses its strong support for landowners to have full access to their property on Steens Mountain.
"The Steens Mountain Cooperative Management and Protection Act established a forward-thinking and innovative concept for establishing wilderness areas while preserving the local economy. We worked long and hard to come up with a unique and collaborative process to accomplish our goals: the preservation of traditional family ranching operations and values and clear access to private property on Steens Mountain coupled with long-term protection for the environment and wilderness in the surrounding area," said Walden, who authored the Act.
He added, "Today, however, bureaucratic red tape hamstrings landowners and lessees with over-burdensome regulations, which only allow them access to their property at certain times, force them to use arduous and time-consuming routes, and even dictate what types of vehicles they can use to access their property. This is decidedly not what our cooperative spirit intended when we developed the Act, nor what was supported by my colleagues in the Congress upon its passage."
"Private property rights are a bedrock principle of this nation and, as I did last year, I have again worked to include language in the Interior appropriations bill to make darn clear the legislative intent of the Steens Act. I will continue to watch this issue closely and do what it takes with the Bureau of Land Management to solve this problem."
The legislation states: "The managers urge the Bureau to comply with the provision of the Steens Act and allow landowner, lessee and inholder access to their property within the boundary of the Steens Mountain Cooperative Management and Protection Area. Unless funding is provided for land acquisition or exchange, landowners should be afforded full access to their property." (H-Rept. 109-80, pg. 14)