Oregon's federally protected lands have been the subject of hot debate over the past month.
It's not exactly a welcoming time for suggesting new federal lands. But that's not stopping Oregon U.S. senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley.
Wyden and Merkley introduced a bill in Congress last week that would add 200,000 acres of federally designated wilderness or national recreation areas in the state.
Oregon currently has more than 2.5 million acres of national wilderness. Since 2015, Wyden and Merkley have been asking to add more.
Their bill would expand the Wild Rogue Wilderness by more than 56,000 acres and add approximately 125 miles to the Rogue Wild and Scenic River. And it would designate almost 95,000 acres to create the Rogue Canyon National Recreation Area and another 24,000 acres to create the Molalla National Recreation Area.
It would also create the Devil's Staircase Wilderness by designating 30,500 acres of remote lands in the Oregon Coast Range, as well as designating 14.6 miles of Franklin Creek and Wasson Creek as Wild and Scenic Rivers.
The Devil's Staircase area is home to the last old-growth forests in the Coastal Range. It also has the state's highest density of northern spotted owls.
In a press release, Wyden and Merkley said Oregon's wildlife needs to be protected by Congress.
"These Oregon jewels deserve to be protected for future generations of Oregonians and Americans," Merkley said. "With this bill, we will not only preserve some of Oregon's unique and most special places, we will also boost local economies and help cement Oregon's well-deserved reputation as one of the world's greatest recreation destinations."
Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke gave little indication whether he would scrap or resize the Cascade-Siskyou National Monument.
"Beautiful country, no doubt," Zinke remarked enigmatically at a news conference last weekend, according to the Salem Statesman-Journal.