Controversy at Owyhee Canyonlands

Posted at 10:20 PM, Apr 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-05 00:26:09-04
Hundreds turned out at a town hall meeting in Jordan valley yesterday concerned about a proposal for the Owyhee Canyonlands. Environmental groups want more protection for 2.5 million acres near Idaho, but some say more government involvement, would just mean more headaches. The conservation groups say they want to establish the Owyhee Canyonlands in south-east Oregon as  a national monument. While all they need is the president's signature experts say it's not likely to happen soon.
It's an area twice the size of Yellowstone. And now there's a movement to get this vast wilderness designated as a national monument. Oregon conservation groups and even famous Portland shoe company Keen says the designation would help preserve the area, But some are saying it would just mean more regulation.
"There is all easy probably 7 layers of government regulation to begin with, they're all kinds of management plans and restrictions and all of that," said Republican Oregon representative Greg Walden.  
Residents are worried about road closures, grazing rights and more Oregon congressman Greg Walden says it's an issue Idahoans should be aware of as well. "Whether you're in Idaho or Oregon wherever you're from, let's not lock these up and exclude people being able to get out on them," Said Walden.
But the only one with the power to make it so is the president. President Obama has already signed on the dotted line more than once on similar designations around the country, But that was with the support some other key political allies. Experts say until the public gets around to the idea it's unlikely it will gain any traction. 
"Presidents are not like to unilateral because of a couple of intreats groups brought it up," Explain Dr. John Freemuith, professor of public policy at Boise State Univeristy. 
Throw in the Malheur Wildlife Occupation that brought tension with the federal government and local ranchers, Dr. Freemuth says that now is not the time. 
"People are trying to heal al little bit, and believe me those folks right or wrong would like to have a lot of voice in any particular monument being discussed," Said Freemuth.
A spokesmen for one the conservation group say they are optimistic about the monument designation. They also hope for continued conversations on long-term protection for public lands.