A Big Win for Threatened Crook County Wildlife

 Photo courtesy of Brent McGregor

Photo courtesy of Brent McGregor

Crook County prides itself on its outstanding natural beauty, but protections for natural resources are under siege in the Ochoco Mountains and throughout the county. In the face of these attacks, Central Oregon LandWatch is on the frontlines defending Crook County’s incredible wildlife, open spaces, and peaceful outdoor recreation opportunities.

Wildlife are threatened by a Crook County proposal to cut wildlife protections virtually in half throughout most of the county – an area of 2,987 square miles. When the County first proposed these cuts in 2012, Central Oregon LandWatch challenged the plan to the state because the plan would have seriously impacted critical habitat for elk, deer, antelope, and other species across Crook County. 

Crook County’s wildlife finally had their day in court in late 2017.  Central Oregon LandWatch, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development all challenged Crook County’s plan to weaken protections for critical elk, deer, antelope and other wildlife habitat at the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA). 
 
Good news - we won! LUBA ruled in favor of wildlife by agreeing with almost all of LandWatch’s twelve arguments. The LUBA decision, which you can read here, explains that Crook County did not adequately consider the effects of their plan on significant wildlife, and in doing so, failed to comply with the law.
 
Ongoing: Our Efforts to Protect the Future of the Ochoco Mountains
In a separate federal lawsuit, LandWatch is also challenging the Ochoco National Forest’s approval of a massive expansion of Off Road Vehicle (ORV) trails in Crook County.  This huge ORV trail system spells disaster for dozens of species that rely on the large block of habitat that the Ochoco National Forest provides.  That case is ongoing, but you can read more about why we oppose the ORV trails here, and about our alliance with the Oregon Hunters Association to protect the wildlife that depend on the Ochoco National Forest here.
 
On behalf of our members and Central Oregon’s wildlife, LandWatch will continue to monitor threats to wildlife, and when necessary, take legal action.