ONDA and the Audubon Society sue Salazar and BLM

By Jennifer Jenks
Burns Times-Herald

The Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA) and the Audubon Society of Portland last Thursday, April 5, brought a lawsuit against Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to block what the conservation groups claim is “an illegal project by the Department of the Interior that would forever change an otherwise wild and beautiful landscape.”

The “illegal project” referred to in the suit is the plan to build an industrial-scale wind facility on Steens Mountain.
In December, Salazar approved a plan allowing Columbia Energy Partners to build wind turbines in the Steens Mountain area.

“Of all the places in Oregon’s high desert, this is perhaps the worst place for wind development,” said Brent Fenty, executive director of ONDA. “Steens Mountain is to Oregon’s deserts what Crater Lake is to our forests; a truly special place we should protect for future generations.”

“We support responsible renewable energy development, but this is the antithesis,” said Bob Sallinger, conservation director for Portland Audubon. “There is nothing green about this project. It puts imperiled wildlife populations at risk and opens one of our great wild landscapes to industrial development.”

The lawsuit is on the agenda for today’s Harney County Court meeting, April 11, in Judge Steve Grasty’s office at the courthouse beginning at 10 a.m.

One Response to “Lawsuit aims to block Steens wind project”

  1. Maria Bell Says:

    I was shocked to learn that it’s even become an idea to get wind turbines up one the Steens Mountain. For how many years did the locals fight to keep land on that mountain to maintain thier cattle ranching? I was able to attend some of the meetings at Frenchglen when we were all fighting to keep the Steens Mountain from becoming a National Monument. Perhaps this has been the plan the whole time, take the land away, make us believe it’s for the better, and now that it’s out of our hands they want to go and let an industrial-scale wind facility be built there, shame on the BLM. That is heartbreaking. I remember some ranchers holding back tears when they had to speak up infront of the public to state why they did not accept the idea of a nationnal monument and now they will have to fight this. Would it not be fair than to raise the cattle and sheep AUMS and forget about the “wilderness area” so that the local community can have something back. We already have electricity and what ever is gained from the project will not stay local as much as they want people to believe. It’s sad to know that the BLM is in part with Ken Salazar on this project. I wish the best of luck to the Audubon Society and to ONDA, may this project be abolished so the the land we have fought hard to conserve can stay that way.

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