I’m becoming increasingly concerned we are going to end up visitors to areas our families have freely accessed since settling in Eastern Oregon. Regulated at every turn we choose to take.

For as long as I can remember, rumors and side conversations have made allusions — China holds our public lands and resources as collateral against loans. Something is wrong when our nation, arguably one of the richest on earth, is held hostage by approximately $20 trillion of debt. National debt is a topic way off my path, so I will move on. (I know everyone is waiting for me to mention roads.)

Coming away from the public meeting in Adrian, on the latest threat of over 2 million acres being signed into a monument, I’ve switched my attention to a coalition between the green machine Oregon Natural Desert Association, Pew Charitable Trust and Sierra Club joining with recreation-based businesses such as Keen Footwear. These are some of the principles, but not all, pushing the Owyhee monument.

Is it about saving the canyonlands or selling more sandals to fill the coffers of private companies? Self-serving coalitions with no interests in the negative impacts imposed on the local population, resulting in families being displaced. No recreationists are being held back from enjoying the Owyhee Canyonlands at the present time. Monument designation to protect the environment from more people, yet the term monument itself makes it seem grander and generates more interest.

If you were to believe the 30-minute presentation from Oregon Natural Desert Association, everyone comes out a winner. Access would remain, but they failed to mention closing the scores of spur roads locals have historically used for sustenance. They failed to mention grazing will be negatively affected. Economic values from the mineral resources would be lost. Our rural communities would be blessed with the tourism dollars. Urbanites all decked out in their subtle “look at me” attire could breeze in, spend a few days and dollars, and be gone just as they are free to do presently.

Is it hard to understand — we are not for sale, our historical cultural access is not for sale. We are doing just fine without your money.

A week after the meeting in Adrian, across the Internet comes the article, Presidential Memorandum, “mitigating impacts on natural resources from development and encouraging related private investment.” Encouraging related private investment, what in the world does this mean? The term “invest” means putting money in business etc., in order to get a profit. I shake my head, but this sounds like our public lands are for sale. One of the claims in the document is to “protect the health of our economy and environment.” This is a general term that can and will be used to implement more redundant regulations from out of control bureaucratic agencies.

Will people push back? I hope so. Nothing has worked to stop the land grabs swirling around us. We desperately need representatives to serve the people they represent, be our voice at the table. Playing politics has not been a winning hand. Time to quit bargaining away the very items you are entrusted to protect.

Wanda Ballard

Baker City, Ore.

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