Too often when we speak of wildness in the West, we only envision vast untracked settings like the Bob Marshall Wilderness, High Unitas or the Owyhee Canyonlands. It is easy to forget that wildness can still be found within our ever-growing urban landscapes.
Now, editors Michael Houck and M.J. Cody have released a new book, Wild in the City: A Guide to Portland's Natural Areas. The book features 93 maps and site guides of unique and vibrant natural areas in the Portland/Vancouver metropolitan area, interspersed with essays that show why this is one of the most livable cities in the West.
Writers give us the delightful stories on how the great blue heron became the official bird of Portland and the icon of a popular microbrew label. Naturalists describe the life histories of trillium, clacking sticks, butterflies, river otters and other species that coexist with skyscrapers, industrial areas and highways.
Colorful descriptions and black and white drawings of the different parks, wetlands, canyons and sloughs help explain why people over the last century had the foresight and courage to preserve them.
Copies of the 448-page softback Wild in the City ($21.95) can be ordered from the Oregon Historical Society Press at 503/222-1741 or www.ohs.org.