Other Oregon Explorer sites

How to use Oregon Explorer
About this site

A Monumental Accord: Cattle and Conservation on Steens Mountain

Steens Mountain is a spectacular place -- and the four men who gathered at Roaring Springs Ranch in Harney County during the summer of 2000 would agree. But the men each had different ideas for the future of the mountain. Two hailed from environmental organizations, and two represented ranching interests. Brought together by U.S. Congressional staff, the men were attempting to reach a compromise -- a solution that would protect both the Steens' ecology and its ranching tradition. Clearly, the preservation of the mountain was a priority for each person. But the challenge lay in determining how to do just that.

As President Clinton's last term was drawing to a close, politics brought together a group of Oregonians with very different backgrounds. In 1999, President Clinton sought to leave an environmental legacy, and one way to do so was to create national monuments -- park-like protected areas that encompass landmarks with special national significance. That fall, Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt visited Burns, Oregon, and proposed designating Steens Mountain, then a patchwork of public and private lands, as a national monument. However, this suggestion created an uproar in Burns, as citizens contemplated the changes this designation could bring to their land.

View the multimedia story A Monumental Accord: Cattle & Conservation on Steens Mountain


Scientists, land managers, ranchers, and others discuss the effects of western juniper encroachment on the Eastern Oregon landscape, and the need for active management.