CORVALLIS - The first comprehensive study of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area is the subject of a new book published by the Oregon State University Press.

"Planning a New West" documents the creation and impact of the 293,000-acre scenic area 10 years after its designation by Congress.

This bold experiment in land-use planning remains a contentious political issue in the region. The book examines the early political battles over the future of the Columbia River gorge, including environmental concerns about logging and property owners' worries about overpopulation.

It also details the arrival of windsurfers and other recreationalists and their impact on the region, and what has happened in the decade following the gorge's designation as a scenic area.

"The Scenic Area is a work in program - a balancing act that can easily tilt off-center or collapse," wrote the authors. "Nevertheless, the Scenic Area may well be as good a chance as Americans are likely to get at crafting a cooperative search for an ethic of place, fir it ideally provides a structured opportunity for the region to talk about its future."

"Planning a New West" was written by Carl Abbott and Sy Adler, professors at Portland State University, and Margery Post Abbott, a Portland-based writer.

The book is the inaugural volume in a new series by the OSU Press called "Culture and Environment in the Pacific West." The series will explore human interactions with the natural world west of the Rockies.

"Planning a New West" is available at book stores and libraries, or from the OSU Press. The cost of the hardcover book is $26.95 plus shipping and handling. For more information, call the press at 541-737-3166.

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Tom Booth, 503-282-9801