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Fact Sheet: President Clinton: Preserving Oregon's Natural Treasures (10/30/00)

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|                            October 30, 2000                             |
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Today, President Clinton today signed legislation providing additional
protections for 425,000 acres of federal land in southeastern Oregon,
marking a bipartisan effort that brought together local ranchers and
environmentalists. The President signed the Steens Mountain Cooperative
Management and Protection Act, safeguarding an extraordinary landscape in
southeastern Oregon -- wild rivers, volcanic uplifts, canyons, sand dunes
and a rich diversity of plant and animal species -- and a way of life for
all who live there, proving again that a strong economy and a healthy
environment can go together.

A Partnership to Preserve the "American West"
The bipartisan legislation establishes additional protections for 425,000
acres of public land in southeastern Oregon. An advisory council including
local ranchers, environmentalists, and recreational users will work with
federal land managers on new approaches to meet the area?s human and
ecological needs. Specifically, the Steens Mountain Cooperative Management
Protection Act accomplishes the following:
?    provides wilderness protection to 156,000 acres of the most pristine
areas, ending cattle grazing on these         lands;
?    places nearly 900,000 acres (including the areas described above) off
limits to new mining and mineral         leasing;
?    limits off highway vehicles to specific roads and trails;
?    allows grazing, recreation, historic, and other uses in areas where
they are sustainable;
?    protects two new ?wild? rivers, Wildhorse and Kiger Creek; and
?    provides for voluntary agreements with private landowners to acquire
some of the most fragile lands           within the Steens Mountain area.

Today?s action enjoys broad local support among ranchers, property owners,
and environmentalists. The President acknowledged the efforts of Secretary
Babbitt, Oregon Senators Wyden and Smith, Representatives Walden, Hooley
and DeFazio and the entire Oregon congressional delegation, Governor
Kitzhaber, community landowners and officials, and local ranching and
environmental organizations. The Steens Mountain Cooperative Management and
Protection Act represents a unique agreement to protect Oregon?s natural
resources and heritage for this and future generations.

Protecting "The Steens," an American Treasure
Steens Mountain, often called "The Steens," is a 30-mile-long fault block,
thrust a mile upward 15 million years ago when layers of basalt gave way
under the pressures caused by the Earth?s cooling and contracting. The
tilting of the fault block to the west resulted in a rugged eastern face
rising to the escarpment at 9,773 feet, one vertical mile above the Alvord
Desert in a horizontal distance of approximately three miles.

Fourteen million years later, glaciers carved the mountain, moving down the
Blitzen, Wildhorse Kiger, and Indian Creek valleys, resulting in the
present U-shaped gorges. Complete erosion took place at one location
between the western and eastern faces. The rugged eastern face of the
Steens contrasts with the gentle western slope that gradually descends into
the Blitzen and Catlow valleys.

A Commitment to a Healthy Environment and Strong Economy
Under the leadership of President Clinton and Vice President Gore, America
is doing more than ever to ensure a safe, healthy environment for our
families. Over the past seven years, the Administration has built a strong
record of environmental and public health protection:
?    Adopted the strongest air quality protections ever, cleaned up three
times as many Superfund sites as the          previous two Administrations
combined, and strengthen drinking water protections for millions of
?    Preserved and restored natural treasures from the Florida Everglades
to the California redwoods, and on            track to protect more land in
the lower 48 states than any other Administration;
?    Made record investments in public transit, helped hundreds of
communities clean up and redevelop            brownfields, and launched new
efforts to help communities fight sprawl;
?    Led the international community in the fight against global warming,
the most profound environmental          challenge we face.
Most importantly, Americans enjoy the cleanest air and water in a
generation while also benefiting from the longest economic expansion in our
nation?s history.

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