our land our voice

We wanted to let you know that on July 15, Owyhee Basin Stewardship Coalition board member and vice chairman, Mark Mackenzie joined me in Medford for a meeting with U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Congressman Greg Walden.

We were unsure how much time we would have with these two men, but the OBSC decided it was worth the risk, so we made the trip. I am more than thrilled to report that it was time well spent!

Mark and I had a good 15 minutes or more, talking one-on-one with Secretary Zinke about the issues and threats we face in Malheur County, which he had already read in the report we supplied his staffers before his trip. Mark and I were very impressed with his approach on doing what is right, regardless of the threat of litigation. As he put it, and I will paraphrase his quote “…when you drain the swamp you uncover the serpents and they are mad, they come fighting back.” From where I stand, I think they have met their match!

As a former Navy Seal Commander, Zinke has a mindset and demeanor that is ready to really lead the U.S. Dept. of the Interior, and he will lead it in the same manner that he did as a great military leader. He is tackling with a vengeance like we’ve never seen before including issues like the wild horse, Equal Access to Justice, the Antiquities Act, the Endangered Species Act, WSAs and water rights. After talking with him, we believe he is laying the ground work to restructure the BLM, which we all know desperately needs to happen.

We left the evening feeling very optimistic and we are sure that Secretary Zinke will not forget us. Mark invited him to visit us in Malheur County and the OBSC board members will be working to facilitate this visit, hopefully this fall. We will keep you posted when we get more details.

We would be remiss to not mention how gracious and helpful Congressman Walden has been in our new direction and effort. We spoke with him while in Medford and we are fortunate to have his friendship and support. Congressman Walden is ready to work with us on a plan to insure stability for Malheur County and all of us, as members of the OBSC, we should be proud to be a part of this great effort.

We will continue to keep you updated as we make progress moving forward.

Steve Russell
OBSC Chairman

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