Why wilderness? Why the hell not wilderness?! As Edward Abbey proclaimed in The Journey Home, “The idea of wilderness needs no defense. It only needs more defenders.” Unfortunately, the default setting of our Western society is that nature does not have value unless we can dig it up, cut it down, graze it off, plow it under, drain it dry, make it wet, or haul it away. Even wilderness defenders need information and arguments with which to persuade an increasingly online—and out of touch—public about the importance of and threats to wilderness.Read More
In its recently revised resource management plans for western Oregon, the Bureau of Land Management has identified 290 parcels of federal public lands, ranging in size from 0.01 to 440.2 acres and totaling 18,458.95 acres, as suitable for disposal. Although disposing of 0.7 percent of the approximately 2,600,000 acres of western Oregon BLM public lands may not seem like a big deal, many of these parcels have high public values.Read More
The Snake River in Hells Canyon would be dammed today if not for former Senator Bob Packwood (R-OR). The French Pete watershed would not have been returned to its rightful place in the Three Sisters Wilderness if not for Packwood.
No, Packwood is not dead yet, but he is in his ninth decade (and with all his marbles, the last time I saw him). I am implementing a new policy to remember some Oregon public lands conservation greats before they, in words from Hamlet’s "To be, or not to be" soliloquy, “have shuffled off this mortal coil mortal coil.” It is an interesting exercise and a challenge to write a remembrance of someone not yet passed. I’ll call it a premembrance.Read More
If one rationally considered the probability of succeeding at elevating a discrete piece of federal public land to the status of a congressionally designated national what-have-you area (wilderness, wild and scenic river, national park, national monument, national recreation area, national wildlife refuge, or such), one might never embark on the voyage. One usually has to overcome an entrenched establishment of industry, locals, and government that doesn’t want things to change. Yet, conservationists proceed anyway, and if they are smart, clever, and persistent (with emphasis on the latter) enough, they do find success. It often takes a generation to change the world, or even a part of it.Read More
Of the 766 wilderness areas designated by Congress since 1964, 48 (6.2 percent or approximately 1 of every 16, not including island wildernesses) are freestanding wilderness areas smaller than 5,000 acres (see Table 1). While most such areas are in the eastern United States, four are in the wide-open American West: the Menagerie Wilderness (4,800 acres) and the Lower White River Wilderness (2,870 acres) in Oregon, Jumbo Springs (4,631 acres) in Nevada, and Baboquivari Peak (2,040 acres) in Arizona.Read More
Republican legislator, lawyer, chief justice, granger, sportsman, conservationist, explorer, and scholar John B. Waldo read and quoted Thoreau, Shakespeare, Emerson, Aurelius, Goethe, and Wordsworth. He made twenty-seven summer sojourns in Oregon’s Cascades. From July through September and from Mount Hood to Mount Shasta, Waldo explored and was nourished and educated by Oregon’s mountain wildlands.Read More
National forest ranger districts are so 20th century. They were created in an era when “multiple use” meant logging and grazing—other uses be damned—as local economies were based on exploiting nature. However, in the 21st century, local communities can make more money by helping people enjoy natural values on public lands....
With declining commodity industries and a growing outdoor recreation industry—as well as increased concern for watersheds, ecosystems, and native species—it’s time for a 21st-century management structure for the nation’s national forests. It’s time to replace Forest Service ranger districts with national recreation areas (NRAs) as the fundamental management unit—and to do the same for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).Read More
Public lands provide society with goods and services that the private sector is unable to provide.
America’s best idea, national parks—including its highest refinement, wilderness—is contingent on the underlying lands being in public ownership. So are somewhat lower—but nonetheless quite beneficial—refinements such as wild and scenic rivers, national monuments, national recreation areas, national wildlife refuges, national conservation areas, national trails and other specially designated areas.Read More