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ODFW Buying Up More Private Land

October 31, 2011

Enough is enough! Of Oregon’s 61 Million acres, the Federal government owns 53% and the state of Oregon owns 3%. Leaving only 44% in private ownership and available to generate an economy. Yet, government continues to want more land.

The governmnet should be finding ways to reduce costs to help balance budgets, and not be in the business of land aquisition. Government is encroaching upon Oregon’s families, businesses, and citizens, and its time to say NO!

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) is proposing to purchase 1,075 acres in Malheur County known as the McDaniel’s Ranch. Read official ODFW public notice [here].
Please attend one of the ODFW public meetings in Ontario, Burns, and Bend. Moreover, tell them NO more acquisitions of private lands in Malheur County or anywhere else in Oregon. Meetings will be held at:
• Ontario: Nov. 1, Ontario Grange (3890 Hwy 201) at 7:00 pm
• Burns: Nov. 2, Harney County Chamber of Commerce (484 North Broadway) at 7:00 pm
• Bend: Nov. 3, Riverhouse Convention Center (3075 North Business 97) at 7:00 pm

ODFW’s proposal is to purchase 1,075 acres in Malheur County known as the McDaniels Ranch. Officially, funds are a part of a mitigation program from the construction of the Ruby Pipeline to offset wildlife habitat loss associated with the pipeline construction. However, the real story is Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA) coerced the funds from Ruby by threatening a long legal battle and the delay of the project that was on a strict deadline.

Malheur County can’t afford to lose any more private land. They are already 79% publicly owned. In fact, the State of Oregon owns 288,677 acres in that county alone. Only 21% of the land is available for private ownership to generate wealth. Most of the available land is used by the cattle industry or other agriculture operations.

ODFW is proposing that this will allow more opportunities for public access to hunting and fishing and will create an economic stimulus for the county. The fact is, 79% of the county is publicly owned, much of which is already open to the public for hunting and fishing and has been for years. Instead of purchasing more land they should consider re-opening roads to allow for greater public access. If tourism and recreation were truly an economic engine for Malheur County, they wouldn’t have the lowest per capita income in the state.

ODFW has also stated that they plan to lease the property back to the cattle rancher. However, if that did occur it would be with significant strings to the leasee and will likely make it impossible financially to sustain the operation. In addition, don’t forget the key players behind the money; ODNA has publicly stated their mission is to remove all cattle operations from public lands.

We must push back and demand that the mitigation funds not be used for acquisition of any private lands. Instead, the mitigation funds must only be used to manage and enhance the habitat already in public ownership.

James Gwartney, a famous economist, once wrote, “When government ownership is substituted for private property, enormous power over the lives of others is bestowed upon a small handful of political figures…Widespread ownership of property is the enemy of tyranny and abusive use of power.”

If you can’t attend one of the meetings, please take the time to send comments via email to odfw.comments@state.or.us or mailed to ODFW, PO Box 8, Hines, OR 97738.

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