Releasing federal lands in the desert to build 2 million homes is really not feasible, requiring a-half million acres of land, $1 billion to $2 billion, and hundreds of miles of electrical, water, and sewage infrastructure … in the middle of nowhere. Tax sink? A desert of thin soils, diminishing grasses and forbs, amongst craggy rocks and death cliffs. Few economic opportunities remain.

Ask the residents of Jordan Valley (or any ranching town): fewer young people and fewer ways to etch a living. A housing project would consume much useable range land, displace dozens of ranching families and their lifestyle. For a million low-income families to do what? There is nothing left out there for us to take, or we would have taken it by now. Most of the silver of the Idaho side, poor gold show in Oregon (but we will likely get at the Grassy Mountain stuff), and Teague minerals probably has a pretty good idea of the remaining recoverable clay deposits.

Ranching. THAT is the way you use this land, if you must. The ungulates that evolved on this landscape are no longer here (bison), but if the cow and cowboy team can together manage the vast terrain in an ecologically restorative way … then try. It is not just to look at. Don’t look at it, well most of it anyway. Stick to the well-traveled roads to fantastic places like Jordan Craters and Leslie Gulch. Otherwise let the creatures that need refuge and habitat look at it. If one desires, they can use the quads god gave ’em to walk out there to look at it. Many, over the years to come, will trickle into the Owyhee Canyonlands to ‘use’ this land by learning from it; learning of the spectacular, Owyhee.

Samuel Castonguay,


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