Late last week, the U.S. Congress passed, and President Obama signed, the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, which will provide protection for thousands of acres in several states. Included in the omnibus bill is the Badlands and Spring Basin Wilderness Act, which declares that a BLM-managed area commonly known as the Bend Badlands is now federally designated wilderness.
Located just a few miles east of Bend, with easy access from US Hwy 20, the Badlands is an area of ancient lava flow in the sage and juniper high desert country in central Oregon. Some people think of this kind of landscape as a wasteland, others as a place for extractive industry or motorized OHV use. Desert lovers, however, find it a fascinating area worth protecting and preserving in its natural state, and have been trying for years to get this wilderness act passed. It is valuable wildlife habitat, there are ancient cultural sites, and it is a wonderful place to experience wilderness close to a fast-developing urban area.
Big thanks to Congressman Greg Walden for voting for the Wilderness Act, and especially to Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, chief proponent of the act, for his years of leadership and persistence in getting this bill passed.