As professional "planners" at the state, regional, county, and city levels continue to plot ways to increase urban density and "fight sprawl", it's worth noting that of all the lands in Oregon, a mere 2% is developed.
While Oregon is home to just one national park, it's home to 47 wilderness areas that encompass 2.5 million acres, or four percent of the state.
That's right, we have twice as much space designated permanently as wilderness as we have developed space. And yet, that's still not sufficient as far as the professional preservationists are concerned.
Today, that only four percent of Oregon is protected as wilderness is something environmental groups bemoan.
Given that motorized vehicles and even mountain bikes are off-limits in wilderness areas, such places are no longer accessible to an increasing swath of our population, so it seems reasonable to ask just how much wilderness we need. After all, over half of the lands in the state are owned by the feds or the state, with other large chunks owned by regional, county, and city governments. Add to that the thousands of acres owned by private companies such as Weyerhaeuser, who now are implementing annual fees of as much as $300 to access them for recreational purposes, and we have a situation in which we're more and more frequently barred from even visiting the open spaces surrounding us.
"When I was a kid I hiked to the top of Mount Whitney and the High Sierra, but I'm not that age anymore, and what they're basically staying is, 'OK, you have to stay home now,'" Swift said. "I like wilderness in the sense of being able to go hunting and camping and all those wonderful things. But throwing a wall around these huge strips of real estate and saying to most people, 'keep out,' makes no sense. I find it offensive."
We're not talking, here, about blasting the tops off mountains for mining operations, as they do in places like West Virginia; this is about merely being able to get into these places to hunt, to fish, to camp for a bit, or to simply take a day visit to drink in some scenery - and it's all being taken away. At least, if you're not a young hipster from academia.
If you're not: stay out. There is such a thing as "too much of a good thing".