The Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA) has filed a petition with a small state agency asking that private lands on Steens Mountain be declared a “protected area.” The designation would stop the wind energy projects planned on those properties before they get started.

ONDA filed a petition with the Oregon Energy Facility Siting Council (EFSC) to stop the wind energy projects planned for those lands. The agenda says ONDA asks the council “to enter a rulemaking to amend the current definition of ‘protected areas’ in the council rules to add the Steens Mountain Cooperative Management Area.” The council will meet on Friday, April 30, in The  Dalles to hear a presentation from ONDA on the petition.

“The wind power projects planned for private land would create an investment of more than $1 billion in Harney County,” said Julia Olson, Harney County Chamber Executive Director. “They would create dozens of long term, stable jobs we desperately need. We cannot afford to let this kind of sneak attack derail these projects.”

“ONDA has been at war with Oregon’s ranching community for years,” said Charley Otley, whose land would be affected by the petition. “They are not content with creating the only ‘cow-free’ wilderness on Steens Mountain — they want to shut down all economic activity in Harney  County. This latest move at a state agency I never heard of to declare private lands a protected area is just an example of how they will do anything to accomplish their goals. They need to be stopped.”

The petition is scheduled to be discussed as an information item at the council’s April 30 meeting. Harney County Judge Steve Grasty has received assurances from the council staff that if the council agrees to “hear” the petition, the meeting will be held in Harney County.

“This is the kind of issue that the whole county needs to unite around and take action to stop ONDA from closing out even more of our private lands,” said Judge Grasty. “I have spoken with the candidates running for judge this time, and we’re all united in this. We really want the community to come together if the EFSC Council comes to Burns to show them we are sick and tired of ONDA shutting down private property and economic activity in Harney County.”

Editor’s note: The petition and the petition letter written by Brent Fenty, ONDA Executive Director are on ONDA’s Web site: The Energy Facility Siting Council can be contacted at:

4 Responses to “County judge asks community to unite for wind projects”

  1. Betty M Says:

    Since when has the “proposed” investment been for $1 Billion dollars? Since when has ONDA run out the timber industry or the large business’ which were inpacted by the recession? I grew up in Central Oregon and they are “proposing” to protect one of the last reasons people come to our area. The recreational value and view-shed value. Dozens of “long-term” jobs will not be created.

    No war has been declared, take a moment to think of what may happen when no more people even come to our little corner of Eastern Oregon to bird watch or vacation? Out grocery stores and gas stations need all the help we can get. Do some more fact checking before you run off with the mouth. There are plenty of us who agree that we need this wind energy, but we too want it to be done right. However, bullying everyone in and out of our community doesn’t help at all.

    Scaring people off is exactly what Steve will continue to do. All that will be left is Steve and the wind turbines and a few private land owners with fat bank accounts. Talk to your neighbor, ask questions, don’t fall for the scare tactics. Haven’t we had enough?

  2. Randy Fulton Says:

    Everyone in Harney County (and those of us soon returning) need to get on board and let the ONDA and every State and Federal Agency involved know that we have rights and we will fight to do what is best for the great people of Harney County.

  3. Joe Harney Resident Says:

    The Otleys have no place to complain–they received A LOT of money with the Steens Act, $1,320,000 altogether (look it up in the Steens Act itself),they also got other lands, that I would say are better for grazing on top of that! I’d call that a lucrative land exchange. Now he wants to bank more millions and ruin the view for the rest of us? Not to mention this will probably keep tourists from coming to Frenchglen because they won’t be visiting the Steens! I think the Burns Times needs to do a real story rather than listing to rumors and just editorializing. Some people here actually like that we have a place folks like ONDA think is worth protecting, makes me know I live in a special place that’s not worth destroying. Just my two cents.

  4. Debbie L Says:

    What concerns me the most about what’s going on is they are trying to get PRIVATE LAND protected. This is private land. It doesn’t matter how much money Otleys have or how they came up with it, what matters is that these groups are trying to stop people from developing, building, or otherwise using their own lands as they see fit. This is private land and everyone should be scared about these groups stepping in and trying to change that. Soon it will be they won’t like the color of flowers you planted in front of your house or the color you painted your house. There is no difference between the two – both are on private land.

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