'The more protection ... the better'

  • Bill Marlett

    Courtesy ONDA

Note: This article is a sidebar to this issue's feature story.

Bill Marlett is the executive director of the Oregon Natural Desert Association. He has filed a number of appeals and a lawsuit against the BLM, all asserting his group's opposition to grazing on Steens Mountain.

"I told (Babbitt) point-blank that we want a date-certain phaseout of grazing. We just don't think that cattle grazing is compatible with the desert environment.

"We do not want a national conservation area. Period. With a monument, the more protection (Babbitt) can give the Steens, all the better. The BLM is simply not capable of managing the area as a monument. Look at the BLM wilderness recommendation, only 90,000 acres. That's pathetic.

"Let's face it. Public use and visitation on Steens has been increasing over time. More people will come to the area regardless of what we do. Either you stick your head in the sand and hope people will never see the Steens or do what's necessary to protect the area."

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