Protecting our public lands heritage
Oregon is lucky to have 31.4 million acres of public land that provides immense value for our state. At the core of ONDA’s mission are the spectacular public lands in Oregon’s high desert, including treasured places like Steens Mountain, the Oregon Badlands, the Deschutes River and the Owyhee Canyonlands.
Oregonians love to get outside and enjoy the incredible and diverse scenery that makes our state such a great place to live. Not only do our public lands provide ample space for outdoor recreation, they also provide tangible economic benefits for communities across Oregon. And in addition to being a core part of Oregon’s identity, our public lands are part of a national birthright shared by all Americans.
Land belonging to the people is a uniquely American idea, and ONDA is committed to ensuring that the American public lands in Oregon’s high desert remain in public hands, so that our children and grandchildren can continue to enjoy these treasured places.
Threats to America’s public lands legacy
Right now, our public lands are under threat. Politicians in Congress and state legislatures are spending taxpayer dollars to pursue extreme policies that could cut off access to public lands, and could even result in our land being sold off to the highest bidder. We don’t yet know which of these threats will move forward, but we do know that if public land is given away or sold, it’s gone forever.
Events in early 2017 have shown that when citizens speak up for our land, it makes a difference. In Central Oregon, State Representative Gene Whisnant (R- Sunriver) withdrew his sponsorship of HB 2365, which would have taken the first step toward removing Oregon’s public lands from public ownership, after receiving a flood of emails and phone calls from concerned constituents who told him they want public lands to stay in public hands. And at the national level, Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), announced that he would no longer pursue passage of HR 621, the Disposal of Excess Federal Lands Act of 2017, which would have forced the sale or disposal of 3.3 million acres of American public land.
There’s no doubt our voices can make a difference, but we must remain vigilant and speak up together in order to defeat the widespread attacks being mounted against our public lands.