Monday, October 6, 2008

Owyhees gets chance to pass the Senate, Congress this year

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he expects a vote on a lands bill after the election that includes protections for the Owyhee Canyonlands and ranching in Owyhee County.

The Senate will come back for a lame duck session Nov. 17.

"One thing we are going to move to is a land package," Reid said on the floor Wednesday soon after the passage of the financial rescue bill. "We have talked to everybody about this."

The bill includes Republican U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo's Owyhee legislation which was sent to the floor by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Crapo has worked hard for six years to hold together the coalition of ranchers and environmentalists who back his Owyhees bill. The bill would protect 517,000 acres as wilderness, another 315 miles of rivers as wild and scenic and help ranchers with a series of land transfers, buyouts and the establishment of a science center.

The bill also includes a bill to protect 387 miles of the Snake River and its tributaries in Wyoming under the Wild and Scenic Rivers bill. Crapo worked out problems in the Wyoming provision of the bill raised by Sen. Larry Craig and the Idaho Water Users Association.

Overall the bill contains more than 90 titles, including more than a half dozen wilderness measures to protect more than 900,000 acres of wild land in Oregon, Idaho, Colorado, Virginia and West Virginia.

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