One year after Congress approved groundbreaking legislation to protect Steens Mountain in eastern Oregon, environmentalists worry that the essential parts of the plan are going nowhere (HCN, 11/6/00: Congress moves on local proposals). Although the Cooperative Management Act authorizes federal legislators to appropriate as much as $25 million from the Land and Water Conservation Fund to protect more private land on Steens in eastern Oregon, Congress has yet to deliver a dime.
In the meantime, some landowners are advertising their Steens property in area newspapers.
"The sharks are circling," says Bill Marlett of the Oregon Natural Desert Association, "and if we don't nip it in the bud, the public is going to lose out in the long term."
Not everyone is worried about impending subdivisions. Zoning on the Steens prevents many kinds of development, as do natural conditions, says Jon Jinings of Oregon's Department of Land Conservation and Development. "It's rocky, there's no power, it's steep," he says. "There's just not a lot of things down there that get people excited about trying to mount a development."
Copyright © 2002 HCN and Anne Pernick