Believe it or not, some areas declared wilderness actually surround privately-held lands, known as inholdings. That's a problem, especially in the Steens Mountain area, located in the southeast corner of Oregon.
Raptors by the score perch and soar near the top of Steens. There are also a number of hot springs around the base of the 50 mile-long fault-block mountain, which rises straight up from the Alvord Desert (home to same excellent springs not far from the base of the mountain). The 52 mile-long road on the mountain is mostly big gravel, but most gasoline or diesel-powered passenger cars can drive it (there are no EV charging stations). It's also the highest-elevation road in the state.
The Steens Mountain Cooperative Management and Protection Act of 2000 said: “The Secretary shall provide reasonable access” to those properties.
Naturally, since BLM runs the place, that's not happening. Why not, since the Act specifically provides for access? Welp, Nature's Advocate LLC owns about a square mile of land in the middle of the designated wilderness area, and according to BLM, the previous owner of that inholding only accessed the land there about once a year, on an ATV, and so that's all they're willing to allow. That doesn't seem especially reasonable, because the landowner needs to be able to bring in tools to maintain watering ponds for livestock and wildlife. And historically, that's what landowners did on a periodic basis. That's also what Congress expected when the enacted the declaration:
Here’s what Oregon Sens. Ron Wyden, Gordon Smith and Rep. Greg Walden wrote the BLM in 2003 about reasonable access: “…Part of this unique Oregon solution also codified the understanding that private property owners would still be able to easily access their inholdings as they had prior to the act becoming law. It was not our intent that the BLM promulgate regulations that would restrict landowner or lessee access to certain days of the week, using routes that involve long detours from traditional ones, limitations on vehicle weight, or limitations on economic opportunities on private property.”
Basically, BLM is once again telling everybody to screw off, because they know what's best. Their attitude consistently generates a lot of friction out here in the West, and not just at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, where the Bundy boys made a stand, but also among inholders throughout most of the Western states. Once BLM gets involved, everything changes. And not for the better.
Kiger Gorge affords spectacular views. Limited cattle grazing is permitted here, and wild mustangs are frequently spotted. If you happen to get over that way, it's well worth a visit.