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: http://onda.org/pressroom. The Energy Facility Siting Council can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org.