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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT

Oregon / Washington

Area Management

wilderness photo

Management Background

On October 30, 2000, the Steens Mountain Cooperative Management and Protection Act of 2000 (PDF), providing additional protection to approximately 900,000 acres of Federal land in southeastern Oregon, was signed into law. The Act is a culmination of a cooperative effort between Oregon's Congressional delegation, Oregon's Governor, and the Secretary of the Interior to forge legislation that will provide long-term protection to the cultural, economic, ecological, and social health of the Steens Mountain Area.

The Act designated the Steens Mountain Cooperative Management and Protection Area to be managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) with the advice of the Steens Mountain Advisory Council to conserve, protect, and manage the long-term ecological integrity of the Steens Mountain for future and present generations. Within this area, cooperative and innovative management projects are maintained and enhanced between the BLM, private landowners, tribes, and other public interests. Sustainable grazing and recreational use, including fishing and hunting, continue where consistent with the purpose of the Act.

A land exchange provision blocked up nearly 100,000 acres of livestock-free wilderness within the designated 170,202-acre Steens Mountain Wilderness. This land, at the top of the Steens Mountain, is the most sensitive to disturbance and will be managed to safeguard the pristine environment.

The Act also designated three new Wild and Scenic Rivers—Wildhorse Creek, Little Wildhorse Creek and Kiger Creek—and adds two new segments—Ankle Creek and Mud Creek—to the existing Donner und Blitzen Wild and Scenic River. Also, the first ever Redband Trout Reserve was created to improve stream health and fish habitat.

Approximately 900,000 acres are designated off limits to mineral and geothermal extraction.

Friend Groups and Partners

The 12-member Steens Mountain Advisory Council (SMAC) was a special feature of the Steens Mountain Cooperative Management and Protection Act of 2000 (Steens Act) (P.L. 106-399). The Steens Act provided long-term protection for the cultural, economic, ecological, and social health of the Steens Mountain Area.

Planning

In August 2005, the BLM finalized the Andrews Management Unit/Steens Mountain Cooperative Management and Protection Area Resource Management Plan.

The Andrews Management Unit (AMU) and Steens Mountain Cooperative Management and Protection Area (CMPA) Resource Management Plans (RMP) provide a framework and direction for efficient on-the-ground management of 1.7 million acres of public land lying primarily within the Andrews Resource Area of the Burns District of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). These two planning areas encompass approximately half of sparsely populated Southern Harney County, Oregon. In the heart of the region is Steens Mountain, a 70-mile long fault block reaching over 9,000 feet elevation and containing spectacular, deep, glacier-formed gorges, Steens Mountain Wilderness Area (which includes a 97,000-acre no grazing area), and designated Wild and Scenic Rivers.

The majority of Steens Mountain is within the CMPA, 428,000 acres of a special management region created by the Steens Mountain Cooperative Management and Protection Act (Steens Act) of 2000). This legislation stipulated a management plan be written for the CMPA, and the CMPA RMP is a result of that mandate. A primary goal of the comprehensive plan for the CMPA is to develop management practices that promote long-term sustainability of a healthy and productive landscape and achieve the purpose of the CMPA which "…is to conserve, protect, and manage the long-term ecological integrity of Steens Mountain for future and present generations."

The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968, Section 3(d)(1) also charges the Federal agency responsible for the administration of each component of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System to prepare a comprehensive management plan providing for the protection of river values. The Steens Act designated three new Wild and Scenic Rivers and three additional river segments for the existing Donner und Blitzen Wild and Scenic Rivers System. The Wild and Scenic Rivers Plan, combined with a plan for Steens Mountain Wilderness, is designated as Appendix P in the overall AMU and CMPA planning document, but is a stand-alone document.

Download a copy of the Resource Management Plan and Final Environmental Impact Statement and Steens Mountain Wilderness planning documents (PDF).