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National monument proposed for area near OR’s Painted Hills

November 4, 2021 GMT

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — A new national monument at Sutton Mountain near Central Oregon’s Painted Hills has bgeen proposed by Oregon’s U.S. senators.

Oregon Public Broadcasting reports Sutton Mountain stands in the backdrop of the iconic view overlooking the Painted Hills. The hills themselves are already featured as one of three distinct units of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument.

Oregon Democratic Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden on Wednesday announced legislation to protect an even larger area surrounding the Painted Hills as part of a new Sutton Mountain National Monument.

The 66,000-acre monument would include Sutton Mountain itself along with several popular recreation sites like Pats Cabin, Sand Mountain and Priest Hole.

A monument designation at Sutton Mountain would block future mining claims within the monument boundary. It would also require a management plan to reduce fire risk and promote recreational access, among other priorities. Ranchers would be able to continue grazing livestock within the monument.

Oregon has four national monuments: the John Day Fossil Beds, Oregon Caves, Newberry National Volcanic Monument and the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument.