Andrew Kumler/KLCC

The name might provide an ominous tone, but "Devil's Staircase" makes people in Oregon happy.  The stairstep-like water feature in the Coast Range is now part of a wilderness area, protected by the public lands bill that recently sailed through both houses of Congress. 

Cascadia Wildlands, Trout Unlimited, and Oregon Wild both worked for years to protect Devil's Staircase and other areas under the Oregon Wildlands Act.  The act ended up a portion of a much larger bill. 

Steve Boutcher, courtesy Wilderness.net, 3155 via the Oregon Encyclopedia

Just when most Americans thought Congress could not work in a bipartisan way, the Senate passed a public lands bill by the unlikely count of  92 to 8, and the bill passed the House easily as well, 363 to 62. 

The bill creates new national monuments, extends wilderness protections to new areas, and protects other lands from drilling and mining. 

It probably helps that the protections are in many states, including in Oregon.  New protections for Rogue River tributaries are part of the bill, welcome news to the Rogue Riverkeeper program. 


The "ends of the Earth" is just an expression for most people.  But Erling Kagge has been there... exploring both poles and climbing to the summit of Mount Everest.  He's come to appreciate something he found in abundance in all three places: silence. 

In fact, he wrote a book musing on the virtues of the absence of sound, called Silence: In the Age of Noise.  It runs the gamut from the physics of sound to the metaphysics of finding silence in noisy places. 

And the response has been so strong, it's been translated into dozens of languages from its original Norwegian.

Scientists Track Roadless Areas Worldwide

Jan 2, 2017
By FluttershyIsMagic - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37476638

There tends to be a controversy attached to any official designation of a wilderness area. 

The argument against wilderness set-asides is that they restrict economic activity.  But the wilderness proponents point out that roads crisscross the planet, rendering most roadless areas small. 

There is now a global map of roadless areas showing exactly where the untouched islands lie. 

Friends of Cascade-Siskiyou

The Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument by the state line could expand. 

The monument, created by presidential order in 2000, protects public lands in a zone where the ecosystems of the Cascade, Klamath and Siskiyou Mountains meet.  A proposal to expand the monument by thousands of acres is under consideration in Washington. 

Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley and a top official in the Interior Department will take testimony Friday afternoon in Ashland (October 14th). 

Placing A Value On Public Lands

Oct 11, 2016
Public Domain

For a guy who is around water a lot, Tim Palmer seems like he's thirsty.  But thirsty for more experiences with the beautiful and wild places of the west. 

Tim is the author of Field Guide to Oregon Rivers, Field Guide to California Rivers, and many other books. 

He recently weighed in on the Malheur wildlife refuge trial with a column in the Oregonian spelling out his view of the value of public lands (hint: it stays public). 

Bring Your Daughter To Work Day Gone WILD

Jun 22, 2016
Penguin Random House

Teenagers are famous for being interested in many things--generally not the things their parents are doing. 

So James Campbell had some misgivings about inviting his teenaged daughter Aidan to join him on a trip into Alaska's wild interior.  She said yes, twice. 

The third trip amounted to a coming-of-age journey for Aidan in some of the most remote places in the country.  It is the story told in Jim's book Braving It.

The Sound Of A Low Echo Returning To Life

Jun 8, 2016
George Kramer/preserveoregon blog

Girl Scouts of several generations formed fond memories of summer days and nights spent at Camp Low Echo at Lake of the Woods in Klamath County.

But the scout days are part of history now; Camp Low Echo closed a few years ago, prior to a renovation and re-use. 

Karen and Sid DeBoer bought it through their charitable foundation and plan to donate it to the Ashland Family YMCA

John Craig, BLM via Wikimedia

While it's true Oregon contains only one national park (Crater Lake), it contains several national monuments.

These include the occasionally controversial Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, which protects the unique ecosystem where the ancient Siskiyou Mountains meet the volcanic Cascades. 

The wonders of the landscape are observed and sung (literally) by scientists and artists alike. 

Friends of the Cascade-Siskiyou include those groups and many more. 

VENTSday: Minimum Wage + Wilderness

Feb 9, 2016

Oregon's legislature may raise the minimum wage, and in pieces... the bigger the city, the bigger the raise.  Is that fair?  Tell us in this week's VENTSday (take an advance poll here). 

Our other topic: wilderness, and whether we've got enough of it. 

You've got opinions on events in the news, and our VENTSday segment is designed to let the world hear them.

We plop a pair of topics on the table--frequently unrelated--and let YOU deliver your passionate (and polite) views on them.

Art For Nature's Sake

Feb 8, 2016

Art and environmental activism combine when Ryan Pierce picks up his paintbrushes and sculpture tools. 

Pierce is the co-founder of Signal Fire, a collection of artists dedicated to the natural world who lead other artists into nature. 

The theme for the 2016 activities of Signal Fire is "Unwalking the West," a symbolic undoing of the impacts of westward expansion. 

Mike Doukas/US Geological Survey

There's no place on the planet quite like Crater Lake, and some of the people who love it want to give it more protection. 

So Oregon Wild proposes a large (500,000+ acres) expansion of wilderness areas in federal forest land outside the national park boundary. 

These would be added onto existing wilderness areas, providing some connections between what are now wilderness islands. 

Environmental groups are enthusiastic, and some other entities are NOT. 

An Oregon Wild rep joins us with the case for the wilderness expansion, followed by Klamath County Commissioner Tom Mallams

Wilderness Act Turns 50

Jun 5, 2014
Public Domain

It's a milestone birthday year for wilderness in America and in Oregon. 

The Wilderness Act went on the books in 1964, the same year the Kalmiopsis Wilderness was created. 

Oregon Wild celebrates with the Oregon Wilderness Conference this weekend. 

Wilderness Now And For The Future

Jun 2, 2014
Public Domain

Our country has taken steps to protect some of its wild areas, but the picture in the rest of the world can be grim. 

And no matter where the wilderness, climate change presents another set of issues. 

These and more will be discussed at the upcoming Oregon Wilderness Conference in Portland, hosted by the group Oregon Wild.