Andy Kerr

Conservationist, Writer, Analyst, Operative, Agitator, Strategist, Tactitian, Schmoozer, Raconteur

How to Use This Guide

Suggested Citation: Kerr, Andy. 2000. Oregon Desert Guide: 70 Hikes. Seattle: The Mountaineers Books. pp. 18-19.

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On the author's shelf is a hiking guide for a wilderness area. Three hundred pages intimately describe every trail in the 580-square-mile wilderness. Each trail description includes a graph of the elevation change along the route and describes the route in minute detail. This is not that kind of book.

The twenty-six proposed wilderness and ten special management areas described here encompass over 11,000 square miles (6.2 million acres). While undoubtedly an expert, the author obviously hasn't (yet) sauntered every stream or rambled every ridge.

Almost no actual hiking trails are in these Oregon Desert wilderness proposals. Nor are they much needed. The lack of trees greatly eases the tasks of ambulation and navigation (you can often see farther than you can walk).

This book is a hybrid of natural history, political future, and hiking guide. None of the areas in this book has (yet) been congressionally protected as wilderness. Most guidebooks concentrate exclusively on recreation, with perhaps a smattering of natural history. The lands in this book are in danger, so their potential fate is also discussed. If you haven't yet taken any steps to help save these places, now is the time. Exploiters wait for no one.

This book contains:

• Information and natural history about the Oregon Desert and the threats to it. Included are overviews of the physical and biological environments and the threats to them. Those wishing to delve deeper should turn to the Recommended Reading list at the end of the book.

An overview and explanation of the proposed Oregon Desert Conservation Act. ODCA is proposed legislation that protects and restores what is ecologically and economically necessary for the Oregon Desert while at the same time addressing legitimate social needs brought on by such a transition.

• Descriptions of the proposed wildernesses and other protective designations in the Oregon Desert Conservation Act. These note the specific wilderness values for these last wild desert lands. They are individual briefs in support of protecting each area.

Ways the reader can help save the Oregon Desert. ODCA won't be enacted by Congress unless there is a showing of massive and sustained political support. You can be part of it (see Appendixes C and D).

• Specific suggestions for explorations. A multitude of recreational opportunities can be found in each proposed wilderness and special management area. See the "Wilderness, Natural, and Recreational Values" table in the Natural History chapter for information on the most outstanding opportunities offered by proposed wilderness.