“A Picture Worth 1000 Words . . .”

June 25, 1999

Don Hunter brought to life this ancient Chinese proverb with his spectacular three-screen display of photographs that were used as part of the efforts to convince legislators to preserve and expand the Three Sisters Wilderness. Old friend Jim Jeppesen first reviewed the fruitful career of the now retired professor and head of the Audio-Visual Department of the U. of O. Library.

The presentations specifically concerning Rock Mesa and the French Pete drainage were preceded by an excellent audio/visual prologue appraising the great worth of wilderness areas and the threat to their existence. This served well to emphasize messages we’ve heard at previous potlucks — Bill Sullivan’s on wilderness areas and Herm Fitz’s on over-population.

A presentation was made to a Senate committee hearing in 1972 to aid in the effort to prevent Rock Mesa from being mined for pumice. Concessions to mining interests permit claims to be made in wilderness areas for 20 years. Claimants are not assessed and do not pay any royalties! Ten claims had been made at Rock Mesa. Striking views of the Three Sisters and the surrounding volcanic formations (which Don believes may be the finest of their kind in the world) were shown to great advantage. One of the impressed senators admitted that he had thought Rock Mesa was “just a pile of rocks”. The area was saved in 1978.

Ed Sullivan, current president of the Friends of the Three Sisters Wilderness (the organization that asked Don to help with the Senate hearings), introduced the second of Don’s presentations on the French Pete drainage. The forested French Pete Valley was in striking contrast to the Rock Mesa volcanic landscape but, of course, more pertinently to typical clear-cut areas. Not only was logging stopped but the area was made an addition to the Three Sisters Wilderness.

Under the auspices of the Friends of the Three Sisters Wilderness a book is now in preparation covering in detail (including some of Don's photographs, of course) the process of saving these two areas. The book will probably be available by the time this Potluck report appears. The Friends hope the book will serve as a useful guide for future such efforts. There is every reason to believe it will.

Bep Fontana

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