Byline: JOE MOSLEY The Register-Guard
The timing is right to expand Oregon's inventory of federally recognized wilderness areas, according to local supporters of congressional legislation to be unveiled this week at a public forum in Portland.
"We have the best, greenest congressional delegation in Oregon that we've had in years - and it's also an election year," Jeremy Hall of the Oregon Natural Resources Council said Monday at a briefing arranged by Lane County Commissioner Peter Sorenson.
Elected officials traditionally are most receptive to environmental issues while campaigning for office, Hall and Sorenson said, and no organized opposition has surfaced to counter the Oregon Wild Campaign that will be launched Wednesday by U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, a Portland Democrat.
"We want to take advantage of that normal cycle, as the November election approaches," Sorenson said.
The proposal has received varying levels of support from each of Oregon's four Democratic members of Congress and its one Democratic senator, while the delegation's two Republicans - Sen. Gordon Smith and U.S. Rep. Greg Walden - have so far been silent on the issue.
Blumenauer's campaign seeks to designate every roadless tract in the state of more than 1,000 acres - about two dozen of them - as protected wilderness areas. …