Wyden, Merkley propose new national monument in Oregon

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senators are proposing a new national monument in rural Oregon.

Democratic Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden introduced the “Sutton Mountain and Painted Hills Area Wildfire Resiliency, Preservation, and Economic Enhancement Act” which could establish a “Sutton Mountain National Monument” on tens of thousands of acres of public lands around Oregon’s iconic Painted Hills in eastern Oregon.

The proposal would reportedly create new economic opportunities and provide permanent protections for public lands in Wheeler County.

“With this legislation, we’ll make sure the public will be able to experience some of Oregon’s most incredible landmarks for generations to come, while also creating jobs and economic opportunities in the county right now,” Merkley said. “I thank local community members for their years of partnership as we’ve worked to develop this proposal, and I will continue to do everything I can to be a strong federal partner and put these plans into action.”

“Our state’s natural treasures inspire awe from Oregonians and visitors alike while underpinning a strong recreation economy that generates jobs and small business growth statewide,” Wyden said. “The Wheeler County community deserves huge praise for working together on this proposal that would preserve these world-renowned public lands while providing added wildfire protections, and I look forward to getting this legislation across the finish line.”

In addition to establishing the Sutton Mountain National Monument on approximately 66,000 acres of public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management, the bill would accomplish the following:

  • Authorizes local land exchanges to consolidate public lands ownership in the region and conveys approximately 1,300 acres to the City of Mitchell for public recreation and local development in support of a vibrant economic future for the community and Wheeler County;
  • Protects all land located inside the national monument by permanently withdrawing them from new mining claims;
  • Requires development of a wildfire risk assessment and a comprehensive monument management plan that will include wildfire mitigation and transportation management components;
  • Continues to allow grazing, important to the economy, culture, and heritage of Wheeler County, within the monument.

For more information about the Sutton Mountain Wilderness area, visit https://www.blm.gov/programs/national-conservation-lands/oregon-washington/sutton-mtn-wsa

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