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Know the West

Grassroots wilderness movement is alive in Oregon

  In a recent letter to the editor, Felice Pace argues that there are no true grassroots campaigns to preserve wilderness in the Western United States today (HCN, 6/21/04: What grassroots wilderness movement?). That would come as a surprise to the 900 people who appeared recently at three forums in Oregon to support new wilderness protections for the Columbia Gorge, Mount Hood, and other stunning roadless areas in Oregon.

There was standing-room only at a large public forum held by Congressmen Earl Blumenauer and Greg Walden at Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood in June, and nearly 550 people came to show support for new Mount Hood wilderness protections at forums sponsored by Sen. Ron Wyden.

These wilderness supporters are Oregonians from all walks of life, motivated not by some foundation-driven cabal, but rather by the very real threats that our remaining unprotected wild lands face today. These are people who chose to live, work and raise families in Oregon because of the wild lands that make our state such a wonderful place to live. They represent the finest tradition of grassroots activism.

I doubt many of these activists would share Mr. Pace’s concerns over the structure of wilderness campaigns. They are too busy working to preserve Oregon’s remaining unprotected wild lands and waters.

Regna Merritt
Portland, Oregon

The writer is executive director of the Oregon Natural Resources Council.