Steens Mtn Advisory Council Winter Meeting Summary


Steens Mtn Advisory Council Winter Meeting Summary

Written by Karen Withrow, SMAC State Environmental Representative 

            The Steens Mt Advisory Council (SMAC) met on January 25-26, 2024 in Bend, Oregon.  We welcomed another new member.  Two vacancies on the council have applicants and are currently in the vetting process.  We are hopeful we will soon be up to our full membership.

            The BLM updated us on current projects.  The Burns District received $3M in Inflation Reduction Act funds that are available across four fiscal years.  They will be planning and directing these funds to a number of projects.  Those include fencing, Page Springs Weir removal, juniper treatments, ethnographic study, and recreation needs.  They are beginning an Environmental Assessment on the 10-year management plan for the Riddle and Kiger wild horse herd.  They are continuing work on the travel management plan for the Steens CMPA.

            Last year there was a rock fall on the South Steens Loop Road that required closing of a section of this road.  An engineering site visit has occurred and they have given restoration recommendations. The BLM is going through the documentation process.  The goal is to get the road open for the 2024 visitor season.

            A major topic of discussion was the potential removal of the Page Springs Weir.  We reviewed the history of the weir.  It is no longer used for gauging purposes.  Removal of the weir is directed in the Steens Act if “scientifically justified and funds are available”.  Removal of the weir would aid in the migration of native fish species. We discussed potential alternatives for removal.  It is now in a wilderness area and there are concerns about carp migration.

            A large part of the meeting was spent in learning about the Steens Act and management of the area as many of us are new.  Jamie McCormick of the BLM gave us an overview of grazing management.  Autumn Toelle-Jackson discussed NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) so we could understand that process.  The group discussed the ecology of Steens Mt and what makes it unique.  Friday morning there was a Steens Act panel discussion by many people who helped develop the Steens Act (Stacy Davies, Grey Walden, Bill Marlett, Lindsay Slater, and Fred Ottley).  This was very informative and fascinating.

            Our next meeting is currently scheduled for June 13-14 Burns, OR.  We tentatively will be discussing the removal of Page Springs Weir, progress on the rock fall fix, looking at issues regarding private inholder access, a general discussion of inholdings/edgeholdings, and archeology/indigenous people history on Steens Mt.

            We have a new email address to contact the Steens Mt Advisory Council.  It is  Please email us with comments, concerns, or information!  We want to hear from you. 


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