Image for Voice of Chieftain First snow

A dusting of fall snow graces the top of Chief Joseph Mountain on Tuesday, September 10

Yesterday Wallowa County’s first dusting of fall snow fell on the Wallowa Mountain peaks. Summer has fled back to Hells Canyon, or perhaps points south. Bucks and bulls are losing their velvet, polishing their antlers, and scrubbing the bark off 2″ trees, albeit quite late in the season for that transition. The herds of visitors have thinned. The annual stampede of hunters is almost upon us. And if you haven’t gotten your winter wood in yet, you’d better hurry.

It’s another season of change. But, then, every season is a season of change. As the futurist Alvin Toeffler noted, “Change is the process by which the future invades our lives.”

(And there’s the lesser known saying, seen taped on a Portland coffee shop tip jar: “If you fear change, leave it here.”)

The character of Wallowa County is changing. Joseph is adding what is for here, a huge new subdivision, and pushing houses and pavement into what had been agricultural land. This trend is not new here. One only need look at the photo on page 2 of this issue—Enterprise in 1903—to see that 116 years ago, a lot of downtown Enterprise was open space, recently pioneered into a town.

But we are reaching a point where expansion into open countryside and in particular, agricultural lands in traditional subdivisions with a nice yard for mowing, barbeques, and a play area for the kids, even here, is becoming an iffy thing. We have developments of 5 acres, 2 acres, and just large lots that have sprawled across the countryside. The Moraine Partnership is one example of how this community can work together to preserve the open landscapes that we all revere. As populations grow, it is only natural for people to want to find an idyllic place—open space and a wilderness next door—to live. Growth that is part and parcel of a town is one way to protect the open landscapes that grow our food and provide solace from the slings and arrows of everyday life in uncertain, and yes, changing times.

The future, whether it be onrushing winter (Was that an elk bugling?) or the arrival of new neighbors in the just-erected house next door, is indeed invading our lives. But whether you are getting in winter wood, or getting to a land use planning session, the future need not invade our lives without an invitation, some direction and perhaps a nice bed where it can lie down and rest for the night. Maybe longer.

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