Conservation of open, undeveloped land can be in the public’s best interest. Not always, but often. Intact open spaces benefit wildlife and commerce now, and the welfare of generations yet unborn.
Government can conserve the land in several ways. The means favored in the 1990s was heavy-handed land-use regulation. That worked, but was problematical in that it robbed landowners of potential income and the full control of their property, without compensation. The second method is outright purchase, which is often beneficial but creates resentment when land is removed from the property tax rolls, a painful problem for counties on the east slopes of the Cascades already 70 to 80 percent publicly owned.