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Owyhee River wilderness inventory delivered to BLM by ONDA

Oregon Natural Desert Association
February 6, 2004

David R. Henderson, Vale District Manager
Bureau of Land Management
100 Oregon Street
Vale, OR 97918

Re: Wilderness Inventory Recommendations

Dear Mr. Henderson:
The Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA) is requesting the Vale District BLM to initiate an amendment to the Southeast Oregon Resource Management Plan to consider new information regarding wilderness values and characteristics on public lands in the Vale District. This new information includes proposed new Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs) or wilderness Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACECs).

Over the past year, ONDA staff and volunteers have spent thousands of hours documenting wilderness values and characteristics on lands throughout the Vale District. In total, ONDA inventoried over 2.2 million acres and is recommending forty-two new WSAs or wilderness ACECs totaling more than 1.3 million acres, either wholly or partially within the Vale District.

This inventory was conducted in accordance with BLM manual (Wilderness Inventory and Study Procedures, H-6310-1, dated 1/10/2001), which states, “Field Managers within their respective jurisdictions, shall... consider wilderness through the appropriate planning process and follow applicable BLM guidance for planning and NEPA compliance.” (pg. 2,3) Specifically, “the BLM will use the land use planning process to determine which inventory areas are to be managed as WSAs.” (pg. 4) BLM’s manual further allows for and encourages the presentation of new wilderness information by the public at-large and timely review by the BLM. The manual states, “BLM may, from time to time, receive requests from the public suggesting that existing land use plans do not adequately identify public lands that have wilderness characteristics…In order for such requests from the public to be considered, they should be accompanied by (a) a map which identifies specific boundaries of the area in question, (b) a detailed narrative that describes the wilderness characteristics of the area and documents how that information significantly differs from the information in prior inventories conducted by BLM regarding wilderness values of the area, and (c) photographic documentation.” (pg. 5) ONDA – Wilderness Inventory Recommendations ii

Per BLM’s manual, ONDA has included detailed maps, narratives, and photos for each of the forty-two proposed WSAs or wilderness ACECs.

ONDA offers this new wilderness information despite the fact that the BLM has asserted, in conjunction with the April 11, 2003 State of Utah v. BLM settlement, that the agency is without authority to establish new WSAs. (see IM No. 2003-275 rescinding BLM manual H-6310-1 at pg. 5) Because the rescinded BLM manual was used for inventory protocol, all recommended WSAs or wilderness ACECs are referred to as proposed WSAs within this report. Recognizing that the Department of the Interior has instructed the BLM that it can no longer establish new WSAs, ONDA requests these proposed WSAs be reviewed as wilderness ACECs. However, in the event that BLM manual H-6310-1 is reinstated, ONDA asks BLM to review each of said areas as WSAs.

Enclosed is a disk containing digital images, maps, and copies of all reports, photo logs, and road logs in both Adobe Acrobat (pdf) and HTML formats. If there are any questions regarding either the hard copy report or the disk, please contact Chris Egertson at 541-330-2638.

Thank you.

/s/ Bill Marlett

Bill Marlett, Executive Director





Read more . . .
Oregon Natural Desert Association - ONDA

Oregon's Owyhee River inventory delivered to BLM
About the Owyhee River wilderness inventory with ONDA

Photos of the volunteer inventory:
ONDA survey of Owyhee Canyon
Owyhee Canyon Wilderness study area
NOLS adventure in the Owyhee Canyon

Steens Management Plan outsourced to mining proponents
A Steens Mountain adventure
Backpacking Steens Big Indian Gorge     Photos of this trip
A Steens Mountain wedding

Basic responsibilities of the wilderness traveler
The Ten Essentials
Leave No Trace