Does Oregon need 5 million acres of new wildnerness designation?

By Ron Glynn, Wolf Creek Oregon
Testimony to Josephine County

Recently Congressman Peter DeFazio, along with Senators Wyden and Merkley, have introduced legislation to add approximately 60,000 acres of Federal Land in Josephine County to Wilderness designation.

At the time, I was rather curious about how much Wilderness currently exists in Oregon. I decided to do some research to find the answer. The answer is that Congress, over the last 47 years, has designated 48 Wilderness Areas in Oregon. I believe that is enough for future generations.

During my research process, I came across information about the history and the process of creating Wilderness designations in Oregon. I found that the current proposal by our representatives in Washington D.C. was not an idea which originated with them. Rather, it appears that the idea for the current proposals came from a non-government organization named Oregon Wild. That organization has been around since 1974 and is currently headquartered in Portland, Oregon. Oregon Wild is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with 4,000 members and a staff of 13. From all appearance, Oregon Wild has ran a very sophisticated organization over the years in order to achieve their goals. On Oregon Wild’s web site, they list some of their goals which have been accomplished.

Presently, Oregon Wild would like to see an additional 5 million acres of Federal Land in Oregon turned into Wilderness areas by the Congress. It is stated on their web site, “As leaders of the statewide Wilderness coalition, we seek permanent protection for Oregon’s forested roadless areas larger than 1,000 acres.”

Oregon Wild refers to their wilderness proposals as campaigns. According to their web site, they currently have 4 active campaigns. The four are the Devil’s Staircase Wilderness Campaign, the Crater Lake Wilderness Campaign, The Wild Rogue Wilderness Campaign, and the Oregon’s Yellowstone Wilderness Campaign. The Yellowstone campaign is a plan to add 535,000 acres of Federal Land in SW Oregon to wilderness designation. On Oregon Wild’s web site, they provide a map of the area they wish to be turned into Wilderness designation. It shows that most of the wooded Federal Land in Josephine County would be placed in Wilderness as a connecting addition to the current Wild Rogue Wilderness and the proposed Wild Rogue expansion. The current 180,095 arce Kalmiopsis Wilderness area would be almost completely inside the proposed new Wilderness. In a sense, our county and other counties would become a huge park like Yellowstone National Park.

I believe we have reached the point of where enough is enough. Oregon Wild holds an extreme preservation view and its goals for Josephine County and SW Oregon are outrageous. I do not believe their goals match what we want for the future. They want the natural resources of the Federal Lands to be locked up and no longer available for the future economic use by the citizens of this county. Some might say that we could become a tourist based economy in Josephine County if Oregon Wild is successful in their plans. Any rational person living in Josephine County knows that this impossible since the tourist season in Josephine County basically starts in late May and ends around the first part of September. We must have a variety of economic actitivies in the future in order provide for ourselves and also to fund our government activities.

We should not allow a Multnomah County group to dictate our future for us. Please oppose both the Wild Rogue Wilderness expansion proposal and the Yellowstone Wilderness proposal.

Ron Glynn
Wolf Creek, Oregon