June 05, 2008

Wyden Seeks Permanent Protection for Badlands and Spring Basin

Senator moves to designate key Oregon desert areas as Wilderness

Washington, D.C. - Continuing his efforts to preserve the natural beauty of Oregon, U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) introduced separate pieces of legislation today to extend permanent federal wilderness protection to the Badlands and Spring Basin. The bills would designate as Wilderness almost 30,000 acres just east of Bend, Oregon, through the Oregon Badlands Wilderness Act of 2008 and over 8,600 acres overlooking the John Day Wild and Scenic River through the Spring Basin Wilderness Act of 2008.

"Everyone from businesses to neighboring landowners supports preserving these scenic gems for future generations to use and enjoy. My legislation is a reflection of what I've been hearing from Oregonians for years,"
said Wyden.

The Badlands consists of fascinating lava flows, unique rock formations, old growth junipers and ancient pictographs. It is home to pronghorn antelope, deer and elk. Badlands is located a few miles outside of Bend, Oregon, a community that has become nationally knows as a haven for people who enjoy almost any outdoor activity - boating, biking, skiing, riding off-road vehicles, and hiking. These kinds of diverse recreational opportunities and scenic natural areas are part of what has attracted companies and new residents to the Bend area and, with them, booming economic development. The BLM reviewed which lands should be considered candidates for wilderness almost 30 years ago and has repeatedly concluded that the Badlands should be protected as wilderness.

Spring Basin is one of Central Oregon's premier wild areas, with rolling hills that burst with color from spring wildflowers. Overlooking the beautiful Wild and Scenic John Day river, Spring Basin provides recreational opportunities for hikers, horseback riders, hunters, botanists, and other outdoor enthusiasts. The area also provides important habitat for populations of Mule Deer and Rocky Mountain Elk, as well as many bird species. Spring Basin was recommended to Congress as a wilderness area by the Bureau of Land Management in 1989.

Maps of the designated areas protected through the bills can be found at: http://wyden.senate.gov/newsroom/BadlandsJune4.pdf and http://wyden.senate.gov/newsroom/spring_basinMay22.pdf.

Senator Wyden chairs the Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests, with primary jurisdiction over wilderness legislation. Since becoming a U.S. Senator in 1996, he has championed Wilderness protection for 170,000 acres of Wilderness on Steens Mountain, 128,000 acres around Mt. Hood, 24,000 acres on Soda Mountain and nearly 14,000 acres in the Copper Salmon area.