Let's go camping!

By Baker City Herald Editorial Board October 19, 2011 05:31 pm

We never thought we’d write this, but here goes:

We sort of wish Portland Mayor Sam Adams was in charge of the Forest Service.

Well, maybe not the entire Forest Service. But at least the agency’s camping rules.

Because here’s the thing: On the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, which sprawls across almost 2.4 million acres, you can camp for no more than 14 consecutive days in one spot.

Then you have to vacate the forest altogether — at night anyway — for at least the next 16 days.

Yet in a couple of downtown Portland parks, which probably aren’t as big combined as the parking lot at the David J. Wheeler Federal Building in Baker City, a group of protesters has been camping for two weeks, with no reason to believe Adams intends to make them move.

And the protesters, unlike people who pitch a tent or park a trailer on the Wallowa-Whitman, never had permission to camp in those parks in the first place.

Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish, who is in charge of the city’s Parks Bureau, estimates that the protesters have caused $19,000 in damage to Chapman and Lownsdale Squares since they took over those public spaces in early October.

Who would have believed that a crowded, bustling metropolitan downtown would offer a more accommodating campsite than does the largest national forest in the Pacific Northwest?

Of course the Wallowa-Whitman has certain things to recommend it. A chorus of coyotes rather than the cacophony of traffic, for instance.