ENDANGERED OREGON

November 18, 2001 11:00 pm

Sometimes you dont know what youve got until its gone. That could be the message behind the entire state of Oregon being listed in the top 10 most endangered scenic places in America.

The list, released Thursday by Scenic America, a Washington, D.C.-based conservation group, was especially concerned with development in Central Oregon and the unique qualities of Wallowa Lake. Better than half of new housing permits in Deschutes County are for areas outside urban growth boundaries, the group noted. And Wallowa Lake, the best-preserved glacial moraine lake in North America, needs to be watched closely to prevent willy-nilly development, the group suggested.

What particularly concerns Scenic America about Oregon is the passage of Measure 7, which is being appealed to the Oregon Supreme Court. The measure requires governments to pay property owners if laws reduce property values. This means taxpayers have to pay people to observe the states land-use laws. But the worst part is, if implemented, Measure 7 could bankrupt the state, and take away from education and health programs.

Oregon, to its credit, has set high standards in planning and zoning. Admittedly, the state can be overzealous at times in regulating development. Also true, these burdens can at times seem onerous to property owners and can be a significant hardship.

Lets be clear: Oregon needs to spur jobs and development. The state, though, must fight overdevelopment and develop in the context of long-term goals, not short-term gain. Oregon needs to look at what is the greatest good for the greatest number of people and make tough choices in regards to preservation. Oregonians need to appreciate the unique beauty of places like Smith Rock, the Oregon Coast and Wallowa Lake. The state cannot afford Measure 7 and should continue a balanced approach to preserving quality of life. A complacent mindset toward unplanned development will not fly. Most Oregonians appreciate the special beauty at their back doorsteps and refuse to take it for granted.

Lost hiker

Our sympathies are with the family and friends of a lost hiker in the Broken Top area of the Oregon Central Cascades. But the story is a reminder that Mother Nature is ruthless in November, and preparation is essential if one is to survive and thrive in the elements.

Some background: A 24-year-old Pennsylvania man left his campsite at Green Lakes several hours before dark Nov. 7 to head up the mountain. Officials, though, say it is a fairly dangerous climb if done alone, with some spots requiring advanced rock-climbing techniques.

Whats more, searches are expensive and dangerous. Low clouds and two inches of new snow turning to ice have made the search of 144 square miles in the area difficult.

Hikers and climbers should be prepared for the worst when they set out on expeditions, and be particularly cautious as we inch closer to the more forbidding weather conditions of late fall and

winter.