Not only do Oregon's wild places deserve protection for their intrinsic value, but they also provide important - and often irreplacable - benefits including: recreation, clean drinking water, critical habitat for rare and imperiled plants and animals, and a buffer against global climate change. The magnificent old-growth trees in our wild areas are among the most important stands still remaining nationwide.
Despite this, Oregon wildlands are threatened. Our state lags far behind its neighbors in protecting natural areas. Only 4 percent of Oregon is protected wilderness, compared to 10 percent in Washington and 15 percent in California. Jewels such as Crater Lake, Hardesty Mountain, Devil's Staircase, the Wild Rogue, and thousands of acres of Ponderosa forests in eastern Oregon are just a few examples of our stunning, yet unprotected wild lands.
That's why Oregon Wild has proposed adding about 5 million acres of forested public lands to Oregon's Wilderness preservation system. Designating these lands as protected areas under the 1964 Wilderness Act is the best way to ensure that these special places remain an enduring legacy for future generations. Oregon Wild is working hard through public education, stewardship, and lobbying to make this goal a reality. And we're making progress.
On March 30, 2009 President Obama signed into law protection for 202,000 acres of Oregon Wilderness. After years of hard work, the efforts of Oregon Wild and our partners finally paid off with the protection of Mount Hood, the Columbia River Gorge, Copper Salmon, Soda Mountain, Spring Basin, and the Badlands. We took a big step forward in protecting the values that make Oregon such a special place to live, work, and raise a family.
Before the 2009 bill, it had been 25 years since the last major Wilderness effort in Oregon. Along with 315 square miles of newly protected Wilderness, the legislation also: protected 90 miles of Wild & Scenic rivers, saved approximately 7 million trees, and safeguarded 240 miles of trail in newly designated areas.
Click on the links to see maps and more info on Oregon's newest Wilderness areas and our proposals for future protections: