Andy Kerr

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


Suggested Citation: Kerr, Andy. 2000. Oregon Desert Guide: 70 Hikes. Seattle: The Mountaineers Books. pp. 14-15.

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I wrote this book to bring public attention to thousands of square miles of the nation's public lands. The goal is to protect these treasures from development and to restore them to full ecological productivity.

My first purpose is to seduce you into loving the Oregon Desert, at least as much as I do. Maybe you've been there already, know its charms, and are adequately seduced. Maybe not. Follow both your heart and the directions in this book; then exercise both your legs and some common sense and get to know the Oregon Desert.

My second purpose is to inform you of the threats. The Oregon Desert is being despoiled and degraded, defiled and defaced, desecrated and denatured. Its wildness is being diminished both intentionally and unconsciously. The wildest part of Oregon is in danger of being lost because not enough people are standing up for it. The Oregon Desert's biggest problem is its benign neglect by most Americans, all of whom are co-owners of these public lands. A few elite exploiters, operating under the guise of jobs and tradition, are robbing Americans of their birthright: millions of acres of wild and natural public lands. The exploiters are often aided and abetted in their endeavors by the Bureau of Land Management, an agency of the U.S. Department of the Interior that often views itself more as handmaiden to the cattle and mining industries than as trustee of the public's lands.

The third purpose of this book is to inspire action. The above-mentioned threats to the desert, as well as others, can be addressed by the enactment into law of the Oregon Desert Conservation Act, which would permanently protect 6.2 million acres of your public lands. This legislation will only pass if enough Oregonians and other Americans speak up for these forgotten lands.

So let's get moving. Read on to find out more about the desert, its wonders and the threats to it, and how you can help conserve and restore it for this and future generations.

Some desert rats (desert aficionados) will be horrified by this book. They naively believe that the best way to preserve the desert is to keep it a secret. They seem to fear increased wildlands recreation more than increased wildlands exploitation. If the miners, ranchers, off-road drivers, developers, and energy corporations didn't already know about the desert, this argument might hold water. But exploiters do know. The Oregon Desert can be saved only by persuading enough citizens to first fall in love with and then to stand up for it. (See Appendix B.)

Let me now make an author's Big Fat Disclaimer:

By buying this book, you've presented evidence that you have good judgment and taste, but most important, that you are prudent. You're interested in visiting the Oregon Desert, and you want to know more about it and how to enjoy it safely. Most likely you'll have a great time and be nothing but the better for it.

However, it is possible that something bad will happen. If it does, don't try to blame the book or the author. Every reasonable (and some unreasonable) effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of the suggestions in this book. If you follow them, you'll undoubtedly love the desert, and you'll probably love the book and the wonderfully witty and irresistibly charming author who wrote it. You're likely to come back safe, but you're not likely to come back the same.

Errors were undoubtedly made while producing the book, despite the best efforts and intentions of myself and all whom I consulted. Also, conditions will have changed after the book was written.

Be careful out there. Pay attention to the weather. Get the hell off a mountain top in a lightning storm. Watch those slippery rocks when crossing a stream. Be properly supplied with adequate gear and provisions. Have reliable transportation. Don't drive your rig down a road that makes you nervous. Watch where you step. Don't overexert yourself. Don't climb unless you know what you are doing. Don't play with rattlesnakes. Walk only as far as is safe. Don't be hesitant to change your plans. Have a first-aid kit and know first aid. Do what your mother told you. You're responsible for your life. Don't do stupid things. Pay attention.

Thanks! We need all available hands to help pass the Oregon Desert Conservation Act for this and future generations.

Andy Kerr

The Buckaroo Room


Spring 1999

P.S. If the reading public demands a second edition, it shall be supplied. Please contact me through The Mountaineers Books with your criticisms, comments, and suggestions, and to point out errors in fact, logic, or opinion.