The pages of The News-Review from Wednesday through today have given you a glimpse of what’s distinct about this place we call home, Douglas County.
Leading up to today, it’s been more of a celebration of the scenic beauty and enjoyable activities that can be found here.
Some of you who are longtime residents may not have learned anything new in our list of 10 marks of distinction that set Douglas County apart. But chances are you were reminded of how unique this section of the state is. Examples are our rich heritage as a timber capital, the entire Umpqua River system that flows within our boundaries or our brush with fame in being the hometown of famed Pittsburgh Steelers football player Troy Polamalu.
For those of you newer to the area, maybe the series has filled in some gaps in its history and provided good conversation in family rooms or break rooms across the county.
When you review our lists of landmarks, favorite hikes, bike rides, campsites, and sports and entertainment venues, we’d love to hear from those who have experienced every entry on the list. That would be an active person who thoroughly appreciates every aspect of this county and has a wide variety of interests.
We hope it’s more likely we’ve inspired you to try a hike you’ve never taken, check out a different campsite, watch a small-school football game or see the valleys and hills of the Umpqua from the seat of a bicycle.
Despite the diversity of our lists, we expect some of you will note that your favorite waterfall, campground or gymnasium didn’t get recognition. That just reinforces the point that there is plenty to see and do in this 5,000-square-mile county that stretches from the Pacific Ocean to the Cascade Mountains and that contains most of a nearly 1 million-acre national forest.
Today’s final part of the series turns to a more serious note, however. We are reminded that despite this vast recreation area in which we live, far too many of our residents are inactive and unhealthy. We realize our numbers are slightly skewed because our population is older than average — many of you have rightly recognized this is the best place to retire in Oregon — and our sympathies are with those who aren’t as active as they once were and are dealing with diseases related to old age.
But for others who still have the opportunity to make a difference in their health or in the health of those they care about, we hope this series offers ideas to make a difference.
Many of our health issues can be improved with lifestyle changes, like quitting smoking, eating more vegetables and getting more exercise.
As we enter a new year, wouldn’t this be a great time to start making positive changes as a community? Maybe some day our good health could be included among our distinctions.