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Deschutes County Commissioner DeWolf supports Badlands Wilderness

For Immediate Release
March 30, 2005

DeWolf Position on Wilderness Designation for Badlands
Tom DeWolf, Chair, Deschutes County Commission
March 30, 2005

The debate surrounding the potential Wilderness Designation for the Badlands area east of Bend has been spirited and it has been useful, I believe in that it has brought the issue of public lands to the forefront of peoples’ minds. We’ve received a great deal of thoughtful testimony from people on all sides of this issue before, during and after the public hearing we held in this room on January 31.

I believe there are circumstances which warrant strong protection of our natural resources. Unfortunately, like the comic strip character Pogo said a long time ago, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” It is we, the people, who sometimes love special places to death. It is usually a very few careless people who ruin places for the vast majority of people who treat our natural resources with respect and care.

I love riding snow mobiles. Though I no longer own one, I used to enjoy off-road motorcycle riding in my younger, more adventurous days. My daughter and son-in-law are still young and adventurous and enjoy four-wheeling and motorcycle riding. My two-and-a-half-year old grandson has a battery-operated four-wheeler that he rams into trees and fences and the house because he hasn’t figured out the steering part yet.

I believe without reservation the Badlands should receive the protections afforded by Wilderness Designation. ONDA’s willingness to compromise by essentially supporting the boundaries outlined by BLM in the Wilderness Study Area is a large concession and make a big difference in this debate. This removes the conflicts over the closing of currently usable off-highway-vehicle trails.

Commissioner Daly has proposed supporting Wilderness Designation as long as vehicular access is maintained by keeping Route 8 open. This is a terrible option and is opposed by all sides. For those opposing Wilderness designation, having a single access road does not answer their opposition to closing public lands to off-highway-vehicle access. For those supporting Wilderness, having vehicular access through the area defeats the purpose and exposes this area to continued abuse by the negligent few who act irresponsibly.

I have toured this area and have come to my conclusion that this area deserves protection from personal observation. I’ve seen the volcanic rock formations, the fragile ecosystem and trees that are hundreds of years old that have been damaged. I drove along Route 8 and then walked a short distance from the road to a small, open cave where pictographs were known to exist What I witnessed is that some idiot had probably driven his pickup nearby, parked it overnight and camped here, building a fire under the overhang and destroyed through smoke damage the pictograph on the rock above. I am certain this was not an off-highway-vehicle enthusiast who opposed wilderness designation, nor was it anyone who supports designation. I believe in my heart it was just some irresponsible fool who didn’t know any better or simply didn’t care. This is the person from whom we must protect this fragile and special place.

Wilderness designation will not close off access. It will require people to get out of their cars or off their motorcycles and walk. And there will be some people who will not be able to get there. I understand that. There are also people who cannot climb Broken Top or the Three Sisters. That is a fact of life for some. Another fact of life is that in our rapidly growing community there are fewer and fewer opportunities for residents and visitors of Central Oregon to enjoy places of solitude that will not be interrupted by the noise and exhaust of vehicles. These are important places for our community as well. The Badlands is a very special place and it deserves our protection.

That said, I am one of three Commissioners and I must have two votes in order to prevail. It is clear that I do not have two votes. I hoped that in the course of this thorough process, at least one of my colleagues would join me in recommending Wilderness Designation. Commissioner Luke does not support wilderness designation and I respect his right to disagree with me, even when he’s wrong ;0). Commissioner Daly has concocted an unacceptable solution that satisfies no one. In addition to ONDA’s and off-highway-vehicle user groups’ opposition, BLM opposes it. And I oppose it. Though I respect my colleague’s attempt to find a middle ground, Commissioner Daly’s proposal would literally cut the baby in half. I will not do that.

I believe the Badlands will receive Wilderness Designation some day. Unfortunately, I now concede that it is not going to happen soon, at least not with the support of the Deschutes County Commission with its current members and points of view. Though we will not endorse Wilderness Designation today, I do want to reaffirm my personal support for the Upper Deschutes Resource Management Plan, which Commissioners Daly, Luke and I signed onto on behalf of Deschutes County as ‘cooperators’ on July 23, 2003. This big picture overview of how BLM will manage approximately 400,000 acres in Central Oregon embraces the principle of multiple use. Of these 400,000 acres, the Badlands represents less than 8%. In our rapidly growing region, we must look at multiple uses of publicly owned lands with broad vision. Providing every use, on every acre is not reasonable. It is not possible. And it is not acceptable.

Since two votes do not exist to do what I believe is the right thing, I will reluctantly vote in favor of Deschutes County taking no position regarding the Wilderness Designation of the Badlands.

For further information, contact Tom DeWolf: (541) 388-6567




Read more . . .
  The Badlands Wilderness
Map, compass and GPS navigation training Noodle in The Badlands
Deschutes County Commissioners fail to support Badlands Wilderness!
Deschutes County takes no position on Badlands Wilderness
Deschutes County Commissioner DeWolf supports Badlands Wilderness
OpEd - Dirt road through The Badlands must close
Photos of Road 8 damage sent to Commissioners
Badlands Wilderness with a road?
BLM guidelines for Geocaching on public lands
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OpEd - Geocaching should not be banned in the Badlands
Fee Demo groundwork may save Geocaching on our public lands
Protest of exclusion of Geocaching in Badlands WSA in BLM's UDRMP
BLM's UDRMP puts Bend's Badlands off limits to Geocaching
Deschutes County Commissioners hearing on Badlands Wilderness support
OHV use restricted in Upper Deschutes Resource Management Plan

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New pole shows Badlands Wilderness favored by voters
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Hiking poles are becoming essential gear 
Vandals destroy ancient pictographs in the Badlands
Senator Wyden tests support of Badlands Wilderness
Badlands Wilderness endorsed by Bend City Commissioners
The Badlands: proposed for Wilderness status

The Badlands unique geologic forms explained by Chitwood  pdf
The Badlands, a brief history  
The Badlands pictographs reported 75 year ago

Map of huge exclusive OHV areas adjoining the Badlands