TraditionalMountaineering Logo - representing the shared 
companionship of the Climb

Home | Information | Photos | Calendar | News | Seminars | Experiences | Questions | Updates | Books | Conditions | Links | Search

  Search this site!
Read more:

OpEd: Why Congress should classify Badlands as Wilderness

Why Congress should classify Badlands as wilderness
The Bulletin
By Linda Swearingen

April 29, 2008

The Badlands, located just 15 miles east of Bend, is a 30,000-acre area containing fascinating lava flows and ancient junipers. This area was named for its harsh terrain and fantastic rock formations. This unique part of the Oregon desert needs to be permanently protected for generations to come.

I am not alone in my support of the Badlands wilderness proposal. The Badlands has broad-based and bipartisan support in our community. As a former Deschutes County commissioner and former mayor of Sisters, I know that support of this degree does not come along every day and certainly is not present for every proposal that our leaders have to consider. The Badlands enjoys a recent endorsement from Oregon’s governor as well as widespread support from leaders in local government, tourism, development and real estate, conservation, outdoor recreation, the faith community, business, education, arts and entertainment, media and health care. I can hardly imagine more consensus on an issue.

A 2005 poll showed 69 percent of Deschutes County residents want the Badlands protected as wilderness, while only 19 percent were opposed. During a 2005 Deschutes County hearing on the Badlands, 82 percent of the comments were in favor of Badlands protection. Currently, supporters of the Badlands wilderness include more than 200 local businesses, and more than 1,500 Central Oregonians have asked their congressmen to permanently protect the Badlands as wilderness. This is more backing than our elected officials could hope to have for most of the issues that come through their offices.

The current protections and recent removal of motorized use from the Badlands are a direct response to this outstanding public support for the permanent protection of the Badlands as wilderness.

Central Oregon is blessed with millions of acres of public lands, and managing all lands for all uses is not in the best interest of local residents. As a society, we commonly prioritize lands for different uses because we recognize that all uses are not compatible. Immediately adjacent to the Badlands are nearly 200,000 acres that are set aside for off-road vehicles, and nearby Horse Ridge is popular among mountain bikers. This is the very reason that many mountain bikers and ORV users agree that setting aside the Badlands for hiking, horseback riding and other non mechanized use is a reasonable proposition.

The support that the proposed Badlands wilderness enjoys is a testament to the values that we hold dear in Central Oregon. We enjoy an incredible quality of life, and that quality of life is directly tied to the wide-open spaces that distinguish our community. As our community grows, it is important that we preserve these values, and these lands, for future generations.

We cannot predict the future, and therefore we are unable to know when or if the current protections that the Badlands enjoys will be lifted. What we do know is this: The wilderness study area designation is a temporary designation until Congress decides whether to give an area full protection as wilderness. Recent events suggest that there is a very real possibility that the interim protection provided to the Badlands as a wilderness study area could be removed. In 2003, federal legislation was introduced in Congress that would revoke the protections afforded to wilderness study areas unless they were designated as wilderness within 10 years. This legislation did not pass, but if a similar threat that we have not yet imagined emerges in the future, it will be too late to protect the Badlands for future generations to enjoy.

We save things for our children and grandchildren that reflect what our families value — we save money in college funds, we save special family heirlooms, we save photographs and videos of loved ones. The legacy of the High Desert seems to me a worthy addition to this list.

Protecting the Badlands now, while we have the chance, makes good sense to me and to thousands of other Central Oregonians. The community has spoken with a loud and clear voice: Our leaders should heed this call and permanently protect the Badlands as wilderness.

--Linda Swearingen lives in Redmond






Read more . . .
Leave No Trace
IMBA builds trails with the Central Oregon Trails Alliance
BLM partners with Friends of the Badlands
Wilderness trail closures by BLM's Friends of the badlands
Oregon Natural Desert Association - ONDA

Photos of a Wilderness inventory near Juntura, in eastern Oregon
ONDA survey of Owyhee Canyon
Owyhee Canyon Wilderness study area
Oregon's Owyhee River inventory delivered to BLM
About the Owyhee River wilderness inventory with ONDA

Pulling barbed wire fence at the Hart Mountain Antelope Refuge with ONDA
Scenes from an ODFW - STEP volunteer 1,000 mile drive around eastern Oregon
Backpacking Big Indian Gorge in The Steens   
NOLS group on an Owyhee River Canyon adventure
Owyhee River desert lands - Jordan Valley Rodeo
Steens Mountain wedding in Eastern Oregon

Oregonian criticizes Congress for pushing back OR Wilderness bills
Oregon Senator Wyden to introduce Badlands Wilderness Bill
Badlands a step closer to Wilderness designation
OpEd: Why Congress should classify Badlands as Wilderness
Governor Kulongoski endorses Oregon Badlands Wilderness
Oregon Natural Desert Association Badlands Tour 
Oregon Natural Desert Association introduces Oregon Badlands Interns
Badlands wilderness trail closures 
BLM partners with "Friends of the Badlands" to provide Stewardship for Badlands WSA 
Bend Oregon Badlands WSA hiking map available from BLM
BLM's final UDRMP opens Bend's Badlands to Geocaching
OpEd: Speik - Geocaching should not be banned in the Badlands 
Protest of exclusion of Geocaching in Badlands WSA in BLM's UDRMP
BLM's UDRMP puts Bend's Badlands off limits to Geocaching
BLM's final UDRMP closes Bend's Badlands WSA to motorized vehicle use 
Wilderness workshop for USDA Forest Service held by University of Idaho
Hunters who use ATVs are hurting Oregon's elk population
BLM's UDRMP plans for Badlands deal with exploding public use
Map, compass and GPS free 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?
The Badlands have unique interest for the hiker
BLM guidelines for Geocaching on public lands
Geocaching on Federal Forest Lands
Fee Demo groundwork may save Geocaching on our public lands
Deschutes County Commissioners hearing on Badlands Wilderness support
OHV use restricted in Upper Deschutes Resource Management Plan
Winter hiking in The Badlands WSA just east of Bend
Tread Lightly OHV USFS tip of the month 
OHVs to be held to designated trails by USDA Forest Service!
New pole shows Badlands Wilderness favored by voters
BLM posts Reward for information on Juniper rustlers
BLM weighing public input on management plan
Oregon's Badlands hit by old growth Juniper rustlers  Photos 
Congressman Greg Walden to visit The Badlands
Badlands Wilderness endorsed by COTA
OpEd - Unregulated OHV use is being reviewed across the western states
OHV use curtailed by new USFS policy decisions
Sierra Club's Juniper Group supports Badlands Wilderness
OHV regulation discussed at BLM meeting in Bend, Oregon
OpEd - Badlands part of BLM's recreation management area
OpEd - We need the Badlands Wilderness
OpEd - Off-roaders have no reason to fear Badlands Wilderness designation 
Speak for the Badlands at Town Hall Meeting
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

USFS Five Buttes Healthy Forest fire reduction program in Central Oregon
Bob McGown, AAC Section Chair, builds a telescope pad at Pine Mountain Observatory
Becoming an Outdoors Woman classes in LaPine, Oregon with the ODFW
Pulling barbed wire fence at the Hart Mountain Antelope Refuge with ONDA
A tour of the aftermath of the B & B forest fire with the Sierra Club
Adopt-a-Road with TraditionalMountaineering
The Bend Bicycle Festival 2004
Wolves introduced to the High Desert Museum
Twenty old growth Juniper stolen from The Badlands WSA   More information
A sustainable way to use feathers to adorn my lady
ODFW clinic - Becoming an Outdoors Woman
President Bush holds photo opportunities
Trail Crew builds a log bridge over Spring Creek
Sierra Club holds a Christmas party
Tour fire ravaged Davis Lake
IMBA helps COTA build trails
South Sister climbers trail relocated
President Bush hopes no child will be left behind
Adopt-A-Highway with TraditionalMountaineering
Department of Inferior dumps wilderness protection
An ODFW juvenile steelhead sampling project near John Day, Oregon
The ODFW juvenile steelhead survey in the stream
Owyhee Canyon wilderness study area in south east Oregon
ONDA's Owyhee wilderness inventory camp near Rome, Oregon
Riverfest river cleanup in Bend Oregon
USFS Mud Bog poster
A Pay to Play bust
President Bush reassures us that SUVs do not damage the environment!
President Bush overlooking the environment
Al Gore and his young son summit Mt. Rainier
Fee Demo demonstration in Central Oregon