Today on the Land Use Trail: Steens Mountain

Time for another visit to a stop on our Land Use Trail. Today, September 20: Steens Mountain. Formed by basalt and lava flows several millions of years old, and further carved by ancient glaciers; Steens Mountain continues to mesmerize visitors with its remote beauty, unique ecosystems, and dramatic gorges.

About: The incomparable Steens Mountain rises from the Alvord Desert to a height of 9,733 feet, creating its own weather patterns and providing refuge to many species (including humans). It is the focal point of the 428,156-acre Steens Mountain Cooperative Management and Protection Area, which was created in 2000 after years of public involvement and cooperation. 

Key Fact: Often mistaken for a range or chain of mountains, the 50-mile-long Steens fault block is the largest fault block mountain in all of North America.

Another Cool Fact: The original name for the mountain was “Snowy Mountain,” named after one of the first European fur trappers in the area. In 1860, it became known as Steens Mountain, after Union Army Officer Enoch Steen and his men pursued a group of Paiute Indians over the mountain’s ridge.

Quote: ""This action represents a bipartisan effort that brought ranchers and environmentalists together to preserve Oregon's wilderness and protect the local economy. It is an historic agreement that honors local values." –Vice President Al Gore upon the creation of the Steens Mountain Cooperative Management and Protection Area, 2000.


Learn More:

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See the whole Land Use Trail, featuring exceptional Oregon natural places, communities, and working lands from every corner of our state.

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Text by Nathen Lamb, Communications Intern. Photo of Steens Mountain by Lyzadanger via Flickr. Creative Commons.