Bill seeks 2 wilderness areas

Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley introduce a bill that will swap BLM parcels for land to create two new wilderness areas.

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A new bill introduced by Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley will swap thousands of acres of land in Jefferson and Wasco counties in order to create two new wilderness areas.

The bill, which would establish 16,000 acres of wilderness areas, is supported by nearly every local environmental and recreation group.

To create the new wilderness, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management would swap several fragmented parcels with two private landowners and the Young Life Christian ministry, which now operates the former commune site as the Washington Family Ranch. The BLM would trade about 14,124 acres of federal land for 10,182 acres of private land. The land values would have to be appraised as equal for the swap to go forward.

The bill “will preserve these natural treasures for generations to come and will serve as a hopeful postscript to the saga of the Rajneeshee colony,” Wyden said in a written statement. “It’s a win for the land owners, a win for the many species of fish, plant and wildlife, and ultimately a win for all Oregonians.”

Read the full story at The Bulletin.

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