My family makes very good use of the cabins and yurts all around Oregon during the colder months. Just last month we stayed at the new LL Stub Stewart park in the cabins. The cabins themselves were very nice facilities, however the space between cabins is awful. I don't want to be 10 feet away from my neighbor. We could look out the window of our cabin, through two windows of the next cabin and into the cabin on the other side. It is obvious in the planning that Oregon State parks is looking to pack people in at the expense of the experience. There is plenty of space in that Mountain Dale. They could have and should have spread the cabins out.
We will not be returning to the Stub Stewart park. We'll just wait for openings at the cabin circle at Silver Falls when we want to stay closer to Portland then some of the other facilities. I have been enjoying the older facilities at parks like Silver Falls, Beverly Beach, and Umpqua, just to name a few. I truly hope that the Parks folks don't continue with the sardine planning model.
Thanks for sharing your experience. Here's a panoramic photo of the campsite you're talking about -- I think -- that should give people a really good sense of what exactly you mean:
For other folks out there, would this kind of cabin get you out into the woods? Would it make you run straight for the open trail and your tent?
I love the woods, always have (well, since I can remember, anyway).
My two favorite places in Oregon to be are in the trees (I mean BIG trees): Opal Creek and Pamelia Creek. Haven't been to either in years, between fuel costs and not being in as good a physical shape as I once was, I haven't been since I got off the road over a year ago. Over the road, I could see natural beauty, but hardly ever find a way to stop for it (not many natural areas allow a semi to stop and just park).
On the other hand, our little apartment overlooks a creek and into the south side of Salem's Bush Pasture Park. Birds visit our feeder or do their aerial dances in the big fir boughs a scant fifty meters out. The seasons and the beauty play out the changes like they do few other places I have lived... the camas are still blooming right now, and we can walk a damp trail in the morning with the friendly chatter of chickadees and the ringing notes of varied thrushes overhead in the canopy.
Do I spend less time than my parents... hard to answer. Let me take liberty and rephrase the question to focus on what I did before the computer became nearly ubiquitous and my behavior now: I spend less in the wild.
Why? I have a lot of little pathetic answers, but no really grand one. Sure, it saves fuel to stay at home. Sure, I spend most of my waking life now driving and the thought of needless time behind the wheel can sometimes almost make me scream (actually, maybe it's more the thought of dealing with other drivers that makes me want to turn on the computer). No, I?m not a photographer anymore (at least not for the foreseeable future). But none of those really answer why I don't go to the Little North Fork (of the Santiam) to swim or Detroit Lake to fish, much less take a serious hike into the wilderness like I used to love. Maybe there is a fear that my knee will finally give out for good if I load it and I'll be back to unemployed. Maybe.
That said, how we treat parks like Silver Falls or Cape Lookout is somewhat important to me. I think the day use pay has helped show that the parks are suffering from their own success. That next step, building cottages and amenities seems to be a bit contrary to what Mr. Boardman originally envisioned (at least as I understand it). Are our parks meant to be for the rich who can afford a pricey cabin (when there are almost always inns of various sorts nearby), or for anyone willing to rough it to spend a few moments, however fleeting, trying to remember what life is like outside our boxes and free from our cell phones?
I would like to suggest that we let many of our parks remain as they are or even become more primitive. Why should we build state funded competition for our hospitality industry just to make our visitors more comfortable on the cheap? Motel Six and Super 8 may not have the view or the cache, but we have greater fiscal obligations to each other and to our parks.
I'm not saying we should close them off or make them difficult to get to, but I would offer that we don't appreciate easy riches. I have been in all but two states in my adult life (missed Maine and Michigan) and several countries, and I can honestly say that Oregon is one of the most beautiful places. But if you live here, I bet you applaud things like adding extra parking at Cape Lookout and trail upgrades along Eagle Creek. But by doing that, don't we cheapen our relationship to the places until we loose them? We are so overtaxed on time, that we don't want to walk somewhere... not when the parks department could pave more ground closer. We let more and more demands overload a place until it's lost it's original meaning and it's peaceful rest has vanished like morning mist in noon sunshine.
Consider the lesson of Glen Canyon (no, not in Oregon, but a lot more folks will know what I'm talking about). Many more folks now enjoy the lake than would ever have gone down the river there, but I would agree with many that what Eliot Porter recorded shows that we nationally lost a treasure when the water inundated it. Oh, on the subject of the national parks, the decline is because they are often loved to death. Anyone visit Yosemite or Yellowstone on days when the traffic is endless and tempers long past lost? Was it the overwhelming experience that the location's incredible majesty warranted? Was it what the folks who set it aside originally envisioned? Our parks have become mob beacons that are too often little more than drive-through conquests to hurry to and through. Decline in volume should be desirable, not a problem.
Finally, who will promise that if we over-develop our parks that we will not eventually sell off those locations to more and more private interests? If one government can come into power and claim they are doing good raising all that cash, won't we be to blame for not seeing that history repeats itself?
(P.S. Probably clear as mud, these thoughts. Been a long day; sorry Dave, if I had waited to post in the morning, I know I would have been longer winded and late for work.)
I've often thought about this, and what it means for today's youth.
Growing up in Oregon, my youth was largely spent outdoors. When I was very young, and gas was cheap, my parents would take me on weekend drives to the coast, mountain or lake. During the week, I played with friends at the park, rode my bike around the neighborhood or walked home from school alone. And, I don't remember the rain being much of a deterrent. In fact, "stayin' in" was a punishment for having not done my chores.
There simply wasn't much to do inside. There wasn't much more to do outside, but that's what our imaginations were for.
My best friend and I use to go to the city park, running around the woods, playing make-believe. Inside the overgrown thicket, we played house and the ruins of an old mill site became the relics of an ancient castle where we were the princesses.
Now, I have noticed a shift from today's youth, who it seems, spend more time indoors on the computer or playing video games. I was in middle school when video game consoles first came out and the Internet didn't become available to home users until I was nearly out of high school. Of course, I always had television, but even so, there weren't half the number of stations available then that we have now.
Seeing as how Oregon has numerous state parks, generally with no or nominal day fees, it is no surprise that people take advantage of the great outdoors. Since, fresh air is free; the only reason I can think as to why children don't spend more time outside is fear.
I don't recall crime, or the fear of it, being as prevalent as it is now, but it seems to me that parents today have to worry more about leaving their children alone unattended. I rarely see young children playing without adult supervision, even though many kids have their own cell phones - something I certainly did not possess 'back then'.
For the most part, I find technology's influence on kids troubling. While there are definite benefits to be had, there needs to be a balance between the online world and the real world. Especially for kids. Nature offers us a chance to explore, not only our surroundings, but also ourselves. I feel sorry for kids who don't get to experience the kind of freedom and self-discovery that I did growing up, particularly in a state as beautiful and plentiful as Oregon.
We spend more time outdoors than our parents.....We had a child who is now 4yrs old so now we spend more time @ yerts & cabins than more adventurous camping but still important to get out & show our child the importance of nature & the pleasures of just being outside away from all technology....great opportunity for real quality family time!!!
We love oregon & the state park facilities especially the yerts!!!! makes camping so much easiewr w/ little ones & us adults still get the fix & recharge we need!!!
In the summer we always joke that our house size growa as we consider the great outdoors an extension of our own back yard
My mother told me I went on my first fishing trip when I was 14 days old. The family tent camped from that time until I was 21 and left home for Alaska.
My brothers, I and my parents tent camped until we children had all left home and my parents could afford a small trailer.
Now I camp several times during the summer. Because of the organization I belong to I have a tent that is 12' x 12'. I'm over 60 and I can set up a 12 foot diameter round medieval style pavillion. It took me less than 10 minutes to learn how to set up my Rainer 12 foot oval that is tension supported. Which tent I use depends on the site.
A human being who can't figure out how to set up a tent with directions they can read (or even just figure it out) needs to stay in a motel. They aren't "outdoorsman stuff".
My parents grew up in Los Angeles in the 1960s. They went outside, but their outdoor experience was vastly different than mine. I grew up in the Oregon Coast Range, 10 miles from an incorporated town, and without traditional electricity until 1994. Now, as an adult, I live in Eugene. As a child, my days were spent playing in the creeks, building mini-dams with skunk cabbage leaves and sticks, catching crawdads, and weaving mats with crabgrass or making daisy chains (or mucking out my animal's pens). I know that in the 1980s-1990s, this childhood experience with nature was rare. Most of my friends lived in town, with less exposure to the outdoors. Their families might make one or two treks to the wild a year (often associated with a big game hunting season or national holiday). But even twenty years ago, people were losing their connection with the natural world.
I go back to the farm and into the woods about four times a year now, and take an annual backpacking trip into the wilds of Oregon or Washington in August with my friends. In Eugene, I occasionally hike to the top of the local buttes or bicycle through the greenspace by the river. But, I don't go seeking a lot of wildness... but yesterday I was in my garden plot and a flock of Canadian geese flew about 20-ft off the top of my head, a close encounter with nature (not to mention the prolific slugs in the garden and the native weed species).
In terms of State Parks -- the Oregon Coast is about as inhospitable as it gets where tent camping is concerned. The Yurts on the coast are a great idea -- but I don't think they should offer much more than they do already (a warm, dry place to sleep). I wouldn't tent camp on the Oregon Coast -- you just can't predict how wet you'd get, and I don't like sleeping inside a wetsuit or sleepingbag inside garbage sacks.
My biggest complaint about the state parks is the restroom facilities. Often they don't have warm water available in the sinks and they have infrequent attention to the garbage or other maintenance issues. Our state has cut the parks budgets year after year, and the only way to make them attractive to visit is to increase the funding so that people have a pleasant experience (not to mention boosting local economies by providing living wage jobs).
Because of high fuel pries and the need to lower our emissions, urban "green" areas are more important than ever. When I was younger I would drive my pickup truck to national forest land to get away, but nowadays I ride my bike to city parks. The experience is not the same, but still provides the escape I need.
My parents spent nearly all their vacation time and weekends out in the woods fishing, hunting, or just plain enjoying the outdoors. When we three children came along they added the Oregon Beaches then as many National Parks as were in reach.
All my favorite memories of my family include being out in the woods. Usually at the Forks of the Umatilla, or Dale Ranger Station area, John Day, etc. My father and brothers went fishing or hunting. My mother and I stayed in camp and walked, looked at flowers (my mother would not allow anything to be picked). I enjoyed playing in the water and damming the streem with rocks if it was small enough (these dams never impeded the stream much, but I was confident I was creating a place for trout to gather.
Now this area is nastily patrolled so you can't just pull off and enjoy a hike or a short fishing trip (fish must be catch and release). It's hard to obtain a camping permit since it has to be done at some town a distance from the area.
I rarely see kids ourside their own yards any longer. The beautiful parks of Portland are severely under-utilized by kids just playing. The pick-up baseball games of my childhood have ceased. If the Diamond or the Basketball courts are in use it is Little League.
Even organizational use of the Portland Parks is discouraged by use fees which seems rediculous since I and my friends pay taxes to keep these parks up.
Parents have been terrorized by thoughts of child snatching and the real worry about a bicycling child being hit by a car. I was usually told to "Go Out and Play" if the day wasn't actually raining.
Keep parks available to tent campers. It's fine to keep parks wild, but if that means that people can't use them I don't know how we will keep them.
I grew up in the great state of Alaska and there it's all about the outdoors. Now living here in Bend, I find the lifestyle similar and I love it. My favorite place to be is anywhere in the outdoors. As a former tour guide I often noticed that clients traveling from cities felt out of place for the first few days until it settled in then I witnessed that they stopped wearing their watch, stopped putting on make up, and generally relaxed in the environment. I think spending time in the outdoors is important to our overall health.
One important part of keeping people active outdoors is adapting to the different ways they enjoy nature. A great example is mountain biking; young people are often much more excited about riding through a forest than hiking there (for example, the success of the Black Rock freeride area on state forest land near Falls City). We should be encouraging all kinds of human-powered exploration of our wild areas, in ways that don't degrade those areas (through proper trail design, for example). Getting young people excited about being in the woods is where the future of outdoor exploration and recreation lies!
In reply to the complaint about the close cabins at Stub Stewart... The Hike in spots are great, if you don't want to be looking through your neighbours' windows try those spots, they are awesome, each one has a nice flat spot and a picnic table, and access to a pit toilet. Who could ask for more?
As a child our family would pack up the trailer and head for the desert about every 3 months or so. My two older brothers and I were immersed in the natural world by parents who were very outdoorsy and adventurous.
Today, at 56, I haven't gone camping in 14 years. My life has become too complex and demanding to allow for more than an occasional drive to the coast to listen to the waves for an afternoon.
State parks? You couldn't pay me to ruin a day in the woods with motor homes full of kids and dogs and radios and beer. I'd rather stay home and watch Nature on tv.
The noise and the hubbub at the State Parks is definitely a deterrent. I wouldn't go on a holiday weekend to avoid such noise and crowding.
Well, it does depend on where you go. State Parks are popular on holidays, and if what you want is something a little less social, I'd recommend going to a smaller state park (I like Washburne, Humbug Mountain, Cape Blanco here on the wet side, and places like Jackson Kimball, Red Bridge and Minam on the wet), or head to a small National Forest or county campground. I think the point is, find a place you like that suits your personality, and get out and enjoy it.
My introduction to the outdoors was in the form of summer camps, very rustic ones with outhouses and no electricity. Also, my family used to go on the typical car trips, but we never camped. We visited sites all over the western United States, including the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone and Olympic National Park, along with a number of less well-known places, but we always stayed in inexpensive motels (my parents weren't into camping, but they loved day trips, hiking, picnics, etc.)
Are you considering only camping/backpacking visitors to be "visiting," or do you consider the kinds of trips my folks took me on to be spending time outside as well? I should note that my preferred outdoor vacation includes camping (I'd do more backpacking if I didn't have a family member with medical issues that make backpacking impossible for us). Despite my wish that my parents had taken me camping as a kid, their influence on my love of outdoor wild places was profound. How does this kind of interaction with the outdoors fit into your discussion?
+ Perhaps our modern life has fundamentally changed rather then a collective decided disinterest in nature. Whether you think this is good or bad is another thing. It is also completely possible to value nature without being alone in it. Many people who support enivornmental concerns hardly ever go into nature---I know many.
+ I suppose this may be the crux of what you are asking: is there an inherent value of spending time in untouched nature. Yes, perhaps there is something fundamental about nature that is good for the human mind. Or, perhaps, spending time mostly alone, in a machine made plastic park could be equally valuable. I wonder if there are studies on this?
I feel the fees charged for camping and day use of state park are out pricing many families from the ability to travel and see these great areas. As a hunter I know that a large portion of the fee I pay for license and tags each year goes directly to support the states parks. Why not make slight increases in these fees to hunters and fishers and allow people who have lower incomes and don't wish to purchase a license, but only visit a park for a day, a break?
The State Parks cater to out of state customers that plan their vacation a year in advance. Ever try to get a camp site at the coast a couple of weeks before you go. The online reservation system does not allow for last minute local campers to go out and enjoy a unexpected nice weekend?
Also the multiple passes is expensive and confusing. In order to enjoy the outdoors, you need 7 different passes to go to all the places nearby. Forest pass, sauvie Island pass, state park pass, snow park pass, oregon dune pass.... the list goes on and on.
I agree with a previous caller that the requirement to have a pass for every access point to get out in the wilderness is a bit of a hassle at times even though I understand that the expense of maintaining certain areas are necessary, but I prefer a more primitive aproach to the outdoors. I would also like to add that with the continued growth of our urban boundries I have witnessed many natural areas being cut down for housing and construction which in some cases puts the outdoors further away. In my home city of Anchorage with outdoors literally in our back yard, those spaces have dissapeared and although when I was a kid I could ride my bike to play in the woods, not it is too far away.
My husband grew up in East LA, and I grew up on 88 acres of corn.......but I have successfully converted him to a state park lover. We bought a very small, simple camper and have been camping in Oregon state parks at least twice a month. We love them all------but it has been a rough journey for my husband who has a lot of FEARS! I'm basically fearless and I really relax and dissociate in nature--in a good way. :) I NEED the state parks. I feel safe there, I believe the fees are just and put to good use, and I appreciate the positive attitude of fellow campers and the staff. My husband will probably never completely let go of his hypervigalence, but I couldn't give up hiking, camping and just sitting in nature.
Before Reaganism started charging for any visit to the National Forests, I would drive ten minutes out of Bend any time I wanted and just park anywhere and wander around in the woods or just sit by the Deschutes River and de-stress naturally. Now I'll be damned if I am going to pay some Reaganite just to visit the natural world that all Americans own in commons.
I used to raft Big Eddy 9 times in an afternoon with friends who I couldn't take on weekend or week long trips to other rivers, just to give them the experience of how much fun it is. But then the commercial guys got together with the Forest Service and closed down public access to the put in at Big Eddy and the closest take out just below Big Eddy and ruined it for the public. Reaganites got their way by commercializing nature and the public lost.
I suspect that a lot of folks slowed down their visiting because of Reaganomics.
I used to drive out into the desert any old where, throw out my bag and sleep under the stars for a wonderful experience, but now gas is cutting that out.
I had a comment for the gentleman who called in complaining that annual fees at parks are to high. Have you ever been to Disneyland? $100 wouldn't even get you in for a weekend. When you look at what entertainment costs, I think state parks provide a good value. $3 for a day pass? You can't even get into a movie matinee for that anymore.
The last time I checked, art museum admission was $10. Forests, canyons, and other untamed wonders are my personal museums, so minor user fees seem a bargain when one considers how much it costs to maintain our parks and trails.
Once again, the commodification of nature is seeping in to people's perception of nature. Nature is not a museum, it is not an amusement park, it is not there to "entertain" us. It should be respected for what it is. I think there should be a fee waiver for people who consider communing with nature a spiritual activity.
Even mentioning Disneyland in this conversation brings to mind everything that is wrong with the over-management of the outdoors. Take for example the Badlands outside of Bend. Just watch--soon as it becomes an official Wilderness Area (TM), there will be fees, RVs, and crowds. You might as well put up a neon sign, "Hey everybody! Look how pristine this is! Come check it out! Only 5 dollars!" Why not just shut yer yappers and leave it alone.
As an EE educator for over fifteen years, I remember teaching kids who didn't even feel comfortable walking along a path. It was sad for them to feel so uncomfortable outdoors. Their desire to watch TV or play a video game was much stronger than spending anytime outdoors. How sad.
I was hopeful each week however after they just spent a few days outdoors without those items. Their personality changed and their ability to think differently, and inquire was much stronger. As a parent now, I feel it's our responsiblity to get our kids outdoors and explore those natural areas. Those areas can be in your backyard!
To take Richard Louv a couple steps further, our children need opportunities to experience nature in as unstructured and as unsupervised a manner as possible, with minimal mediation between them and raw nature. I learned just about everything about the natural world from a partially degraded woodland/wetland/marshland/river oxbow environment in the suburbs of a major East Coast city. As a result, I have never had any fear of the wild, even solo, no matter the environment or weather. No adults intervention, no adult supervision. Yes, we got into trouble. There were injuries. There are risks in being alive, in being a human being. Yes, there are reasons for 21st Cent. parents to be more cautious, more protective, but we have taken it way too far. We are raising risk-averse indoor children whose only experience of the outdoors is organized sports, and looking at the natural world through the windows of minivans and schoolbuses.
No matter how powerful the computer/DVD/video game/nature documentary experience, that kind of media/high tech experience of the natural world will never, ever be as powerful, as lasting as the direct, tactile, sensual experience of an immersive experience of the natural world.
Every parent should read Richard Louv's book...and every adult and teenager should read E.O. Wilson's autobiography (which details how his youthful wanderings in the Alabama woods had a lasting impact on his life, career and philosophy). If everyone had a deeper connection with the natural world, and a deeper appreciation for biodiversity and interdependency, then we would not be in the precarious state we are in.
Yes, to more Outdoor School kinds of programs, and thank goodness for Opal Creek. We also need to find ways to help kids (and parents) appreciate what is near at hand, and the power of "urban nature."
I am a 37 year old male from Portland. I moved here from Chicago 4 years ago because of the better access to wilderness.
I spend more time outside than my parents, although my parents spent substantial amount of time outdoors. Thanks to the influence of my father, I spend 150+ days a year watching birds -- usually between 3 and 8 hours per outing. My kids (7 and 9 year old boys) spend time outside, although not as much as me (yet). Our vacations usually involve camping and visits to National Parks.
As a parent, I make sure that they prefer being outdoors to being inside. Television and computers are a minimal part of their lives -- that is my job as a parent. They will not have cell phones anytime soon. Parents have more influence than they think, and don't have to let electronics take over the lives of their children.
I encourage my children to explore outside -- to look, touch, smell, taste. I give them free reign when I am in a location with no poisonous snakes. In rattlesnake country, I inform them of the dangers, keep a closer watch on them, but still give them freedom to explore.
I'm a big fan of state parks in theory, but tend not to visit them too often. I prefer National Wildlife Refuges and National Forests. Why? Because state parks often have loud gatherings of people and/or people with very little natural area etiquette, and this distracts from my experience. I usually avoid state parks on beautiful weekends, but visit them occasionally during less popular times.
My favorite state park, in my 4 years of living in Oregon, is Ft. Rock. Why? It is relatively undeveloped, and very few people who visit. Those who do tend to appreciate a natural experience, which is different, than say, a visit to Tryon Creek State Park or Ecola State Park. I suspect there are other wonderful state parks, I just haven't found them yet.
I'm saddened at the thought that state parks, or even NWRs, feel the need to build interactive exhibits to attract and entertain people. As if looking for bugs, snakes, turtles, frogs, birds, and whatever else awaits is not enough!
I can't recommend strongly enough that folks go visit Eastern Oregon, The Steens, Hart Mountain, Malheur Refuge area, Halfway, over by the Idaho border, a lot of that area has views forever with no trees in the way, and I believe it is magnificent.
Here in Bend there are polar opposites of outdoor participation. You have people have lived here five years and have never been to Mt. Bachelor, or Smith Rock State Park. On the other hand, the "backcountry" experience is so trendy and popular with some people, you have people entering the backcountry without the proper experience or safety precautions. routinely, the local self-proclaimed backcountry "expert" ski shop will suggest places to ski to newbies or out-of-towners with no mention of avalanche safety or assessment of skill level.
I have a question for Chris Havel. The last time I visited a state park that had overnight camping, the fees for in-state and out of state visitors was the same. Since state funds support the parks and there is always a shortage for funds for parks and outdoor programs for kids, can you tell me why fees for out of state visitors aren't higher to help support the parks?
We did dabble in an out-of-state surcharge years ago. Most campsites are occupied by Oregonians, though Washington (our lead out-of-state source of visitors) and California make up about 40-45% of our summer campers. The extra charge didn't raise a significant amount of money, and our neighbors to the north and south started doing the same to Oregonians. Really, I think you could make a stronger argument for a nonresident surcharge if state parks were supported by tax dollars (and even then, it wouldn't be a slam dunk). As it is, parks are funded mainly by money collected from visitors. Oregonians who own an RV pay a registration fee, and some of that money goes to the state aprk system (some goes to county parks). Oregon Lottery makes up the rest.
Quick question: Your guest mentioned the growth rate of park visits is below that of the state's population.
The base of the state population is about 1/10th of park visitors--it's easier for small numbers to grow faster. Is he taking that into account in terms of a relative growth rate?
Two points to make to add to the discussion...
Firstly, there is a great wealth of programs for kids to get outside, but it often seems to me that there is not enough of targeting parents. The abundance of programs offered means we initially think that we should sign up our kids for a nature camp instead of getting out together as a family. So we spend our Saturdays fighting crowds at Trader Joe's and dropping kids to soccer, dancing and t-ball instead of taking an easy and wonderfully rewarding trip chasing waterfalls in the gorge.
Let's work on helping parents understand that there is a world of fun and discovery on our doorstep and it is so easy to get to -- and the whole family can benefit from being outside.
Secondly -- there is a local production company working on a documentary about the impact of media and the value of getting kids outside. We plan on following kids for a year as they take on adventures outside. See www.groundproductions.com for more details -- and get involved!
Thanks so much for featuring a discussion on this important topic! I've just tuned in mid-discussion so don't know if you've already broached this subject but I do feel the access issue is critical....in more ways than one. While I love my time in the wilderness, increasingly it simply is not feasible or, for that matter, sustainable to hop in one's car and burn a bunch of fossil fuel to experience nature. We need access to nature where we live....where for nearly 80% of the US population is urban areas. And, frankly, there are also equity concerns re: providing access to folks that simply can't afford to get "into the woods". As someone who grew up low income in the Portland area my first experiences of nature were an undeveloped lot behind the apartment building I grew up in.....not pristine habitat but it provided a sanctuary for me from a not so pleasant childhood. All children, no matter their income level need/deserve access to nature near their homes. Designing our communities this way is better for them and for our region as a whole. I'm grateful to organizations like the Portland Audubon Society and people like Mike Houck who have led this effort for many years. I'll leave you with a quote from Robert Michael Pyle that illustrates this issue: "What is the Condor to a child who has never known a Wren".
Thanks for the opportunity to comment!
I am working on a documentary called PLAY AGAIN, about children's increasing relationships with screens and decreasing relationships with nature. We are looking at the impact on children as well as the planet. One thing that struck me in my research for this film was an interview I did with Bill McKibben. I asked him what is the most important difference between what kids learn from media and what they learn from nature. He said media teaches kids that they are the center of the universe, that it is all about them. Nature teaches kids that they are just a small part of a much bigger picture... It is this contrast in values that I believe is at the heart of the sustainability movement today and what propels me to turn off the tv and get my family outside. (For those who are interested, you can access information about the film at www.groundproductions.com)
I am a 50ish guy in Portland. I spend less time outside than my parents but way more time in the wilds than they did as adults. However, my kids spend far less time than I did at their age in the outdoors-- due, I think to their having cell phones, an entire culture on-line (games, chat, facebook, Itunes, YouTube... the list goes on), and cable TV, none of which I had as a child. I personally do not need any new/sophisticated/luxury/additional amenities in the outdoors. I will not tell you my favorite place in Oregon because it is off the trail, it is not "signed", and it is within a wilderness. It is my sanctuary, and I have to walk about 4 miles into it in rugged terrain after driving a while to get to the traihead. I have spent a lot of time in my early adulthood in the very wild outdoors, and I consider this a defining part of my life, so much so that I consider myself an adherent of deep ecology and of the Sacred Wild school of thought that has been well described by Gary Snyder. I have had experiences in the outdoors that many many people I have described this to did not imagine were possible. I spend very little time in developed parks, althoug I walk regularly in Tryon Creek which is in my neigborhood. In conclusion though I would like to make a point: for me the outdoors and the wild is culture. Very much of my life is guided by my connection to wild culture (i.e. the outdoors). I have a perspective on life that makes me at ease, centered, comforted and not alone due to my membership in the bigger world of wild culture. It provides a buffer and a large-scale alternative against the influences, distractions, noise of the popular culture thrust upon us by media and technocracy.
"in proportion to our increasing population." I wonder if where the incoming population is coming from has such beauty and opportunity for being in the outdoors. Maybe it is simply not having the history. I was blessed to grow up at youth camps as a parent was staff, and feel so blessed, as well my grandparents were ranchers, I feel quite constricted living in town, but simply can not afford to live in the conditions I had growning up, but miss it terribly. I do take opportunity to use the state parks. I was a foster parent and at one point the state made it very easy for foster parents to get passes to the parks to share the out door with kids in their care. In the past it has become increasingly difficult. I need to point out that a 25 dollar pass should be easier to get for foster parents. They are already under paid and take on children most people don't. Also I would like to reccomend that Silver Falls allow dogs on the trail from Mid- October to Mid - April or or May. I understand in the summer there is not enough room, but if you go to hike the falls in mid- november in the early morning, there is no one there and i feeel much safer walking alone with my dog in the winter.
We used to camp a lot with our kids who are now grown. We now worry about leaving camp set up to go hiking or boating. It's not fun to feel paranoid about having things stolen and not trusting other campers in the area. We also worry about leaving the car in remote parking areas to go day hiking.
Traci from Oregon Trout mentioned Metro's involvement in environmental education and support for outdoor school. In addition to environmental education, Metro has launched an initiative to complete the Portland region's trails network, envisioned to eventually include 900 miles of trail extending throughout the urban area. For those of you familiar with the Eastbank Esplanade and Springwater trails, imagine a network of trails like these extending from Gresham to Forest Grove and from Oregon City to Vancouver Washington. See http://www.oregonmetro.gov/index.cfm/go/by.web/id=27329.
The environmental education and trials projects are part of a larger initiative called Connecting Green.
This program focused on Oregon State Parks...a tiny fraction of Oregon's public lands. The largest being our Federal national forests and BLM lands. That is where the overwhelming proportion of outdoor recreation takes place. And it's on these Federal properties that Day Use fees are thwarting the public's usage of these lands - lands that are their birthright heritage as Americans.
It is not simply the amount of the fee, it is often the inconvenience of
a) not having the correct money for self-pay stations
b) having to find a place to issue a permit like the NorthWest Forest Pass when your miles from a store that issues them.
These day-fee taxes are an impediment to outdoor recreation.
At the heart of the issue is -- compared to several decades ago, America has divested from providing recreation on Federal lands. THere are actually fewer trails than 50 years ago.
While the NW Congressional delegation has never failed to find appropriation monies for logging activities on National Forests (just consider the tens-of-thousands of miles of logging roads constructed in the 1970s-1980s) recreation has only had the tiniest sliver.
These are America's lands, our legacy and if you pay taxes, you ought to be able to walk,fish, hunt, and generally recreate in those forests without having to be nickled & dimed by day fees.
The answer is getting our NW COngressional delegation to pay some attention to adequately funding the recreation budget of the US Forest Service and other Federal land managers (BLM, Nat.Parks, Fed. wildlife refuges, etc)
Yes, I do think our children are suffering from 'nature deficiency syndrome'. My own child is the expection in her class in that she plays outside pretty much every day. I was spurred by her experience to think about how I could help. After all, I work in the horticulture field. I'm happy to say that the company I work for, ProGrass Landscape Care & Design, has launched a program to donate the labor for creating gardens and nature spaces at public elementary schools. ProGrass completed the first project in April and is looking for more schools to help. The average labor donation will be about $6000-$7000. In putting together this program, I realized I couldn't much influence what a child does at home, but I could make sure that child is able to learn firsthand about plants and animals at school. I'm very proud of this program and I really hope schools take advantage of it. It's designed to eliminate the major roadblocks to creating nature spaces for parents and educators. At the first school, Concord Elementary in Milwaukie, I saw immediate results with the kids. It was both thrilling and crushing to see the kids' excitement over getting to dig in the dirt. I saw some real 'ah ha' moments right before my eyes--a deeper understanding of what it takes to nuture our environment.
These days, the recreational crowd is older (Boomers, et al) and thus there are more and more folks out there with mild to serious disabilities . . . yet, everyone would like to, and deserves to enjoy the great natural resources we are lucky enough to have. One of the most beautiful and moving natural sites I have visited is in Colorado, between Copper Mountain and Vail?a forest trail designed to be enjoyed by all, but especially outfitted to serve the blind. A lovely, wide trail lined by a rope rail, and accessible by wheelchair, drew hikers into the woods, where Braille signage identified each tree, and invited those with and without sight to touch the bark of each tree, noting how the trees differed. I experienced the trail while blindfolded, and was touched by the wonderful experience that had been created for those without sight . . . and with such simple materials.
While such projects cost money that comes dear these days, the thoughtfulness and spirited invitation for all to participate in outdoors activities is well worth it. Each park service and local recreation department should take great care to communicate which facilities provide handicapped access, and other special amenities.
It seems many of the more attractive areas to see, trailheads, etc. now have fees associated with them. I don't want the amenities and I don't want to pay fees. I am also of rather modest income so fees do keep me and my family from enjoying fee areas.
I spend more time outside than my parents did. I use computers too much so I break up butt time with frequent bouts of "hanging out with trees". I try to hike or bike three or four times a week. Day trips mostly. Don't camp so much because I've been spoiled. Tramped and camped in New Zealand on a turquoise lake with a view of Mt. Cook. That was nice. I can still see the view in my mind.
Don't care for state campgrounds because the few I've been to have had the sites too close together or they were overrun by obnoxious unwashed hordes. My idea of being outdoors is to be quiet with virtually no technology. I feel sad when I see people talking on their cell phones as they hike. But hey, I encourage people to enjoy the outdoors their way, especially if they're mindful of others.
I give a shout out to two state parks in particular: Viento and Rowena in the Columbia River Gorge. These parks are used by windsurfers and I love them dearly. Spectacular Gorge views and I love the river that runs through them. I've enjoyed volunteering on work crews to keep these parks maintained. It's too bad we have to pay access fees, volunteer, etc. to keep these parks open. What happened to our ability to pay for these places/services with our tax dollars? In the 60s and 70s it seems like access/camping was free or minimally expensive. Gas was between 25 and 50 cents a gallon too.
Another credit I give to Oregon State Parks: I really like the shiny, clean, new concrete bunker long drops (toilets) at Viento and Columbia River South Jetty. There's nothing more discouraging than having to use a porta-potty that is disgustingly befouled beyond words. Uggghhh!
Do you native Oregonians remember Austin and Bagby hot springs in the days when you could be at these places for days without seeing anybody else? Wow, I was little then but the memories hang with me like best friends.
We are lucky in Oregon to have desert, sea, mountains, forests and snow, all easily within reach. If Oregon isn't fairly heavenly (the clear cuts are awfully ugly) where is? Let's take care of this place and make it better, yall.
Comments are now closed.