This spring I volunteered in the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Adopt-A-Lek program. Hiking across the vast sagebrush sea in the predawn light to watch the greater sage-grouse perform their elaborate mating dance is an experience I hope every Oregonian gets to witness.

Unfortunately, their populations have declined significantly with an 80% range wide decline since 1965. The 4.6 million acres of public lands that are part of the vast Vale Bureau of Land Management District in the southeast corner of Oregon provide some of the best remaining sage grouse habitat left in the West and are important to this bird’s future.

Right now, the Vale BLM is updating their Resource Management Plan, an important plan that guides and balances multiple land uses across this entire area. Due to top-down meddling from Washington, D.C., during the previous administration, the current version of the plan falls far short of conserving some of our last, best and most intact fish and wildlife habitats in this area.

In the current version of the plan, not even one acre of 1.2 million acres of wilderness-quality lands would be managed to protect their wild and intact nature. The plan also needs to include more science-based, forward-looking management strategies to ensure these public lands are resistant and resilient to a changing climate.

Fortunately, the BLM can still fix this plan and provide a balanced approach to conserving and managing our public lands in Malheur County. I urge them to do so. Future generations deserve a healthy and wild Owyhee Canyonlands.

Karl J. Findling 

Bend 

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