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Tag Archives: Columbia gorge

Riparian Refuge Seeks Volunteers

Are you dying to save the environment but not sure where to start? Here is an idea: Stewardship Saturdays! Jim Clapp of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service in Washington is looking for a little help (or a lot of help) to replant three small National Wildlife Refuges on the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge - Steigerwald Lake near Washougal, Franz Lake near Skamania, and Pierce between Beacon Rock and North Bonneville. I spoke to Jim Clapp this morning and he assured me these work parties are completely kid friendly. So why not make a family day of it? When I brought my boys to a Pick up the Giff work party last fall, it was fun and environmentally rewarding. Plus, because I’m desert born and raised, it was a chance to apply a parental homily: “When I was a kid we didn’t have Beautiful Forests to play in.” But more apt perhaps is this sentiment: “Someday, when you have kids, I want them to have Beautiful Forests to play in.” Here is the official Press Release...

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Fresh Snow, Fresh Tracks, and the Wilderness Close By

“What first caught my attention was the large imprint in the snow... Then I saw the blood, still a brilliant shade of red.” There will always be something special about being that first person to venture out into freshly fallen snow, especially when that snow is in your own backyard. My new favorite pastime, though, comes in the days to follow, as the snow slowly collects evidence of the wilderness around us. Last week, I followed the same set of deer tracks for three miles. It was the same route I’d taken numerous times before, but the addition of these tracks captured so perfectly in the snow made it seem new — almost magical. I found myself wondering, are the deer just as enthralled when they get to follow our tracks? I doubt it. As we focus our attention on the rate of development and urbanization happening all around us, it’s easy to forget just how close we are to the “call of the wild.” Paving a place, however, does not take it outside the realm of the wilderness, and it certainly does not make it ours. I received a relatively gentle reminder of this today. It was a little after 1 p.m. when I set off with my dog for the Twin Tunnels trail...

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Why Are We So Warm In January?

One of the things I’ve always enjoyed about the Gorge is the seasons. We have them; unlike some of the other places I’ve lived, where either summer or winter or some particular sort of weather predominates. In the Gorge, we have summer, fall, winter, spring. Four beautiful stages of the year, as I’ve told friends in other places more than once. Thanks for making a liar of me, weather. It’s hit 50 degrees or warmer for the past several days here in The Dalles. It’s been pleasant, but disconcerting. You shouldn’t be able to stroll around without a coat in January. This comes on the heels of the notice that scientists are saying 2007 could be the warmest year ever recorded. Yes, that’s anecdotal evidence, but still a close-to-home example of global warming. It’s also part of larger pattern, what with recent repeat floods in our backyard, and endangered polar bears up north. And then there’s this: that every year since 1992 has made the list of the 20 warmest years on record...

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Development in Mosier

We’re depleting our only water source and destroying our hillsides. It’s a great day in Mosier, Oregon. If you’re a developer. In addition to the 34 homes being constructed in a narrow strip of land between a set of freight railroad tracks and the old Columbia Highway, Mosier has recently approved a 3-phase, 28-unit hillside development, and is awaiting the re-application of yet another subdivision. Yet at the same time that all of this construction is going up around us, we (the residents of Mosier) continue to receive notices and workshop invitations related to our diminishing water supply. According to these mailings, our one and only aquifer has been “dropping at an average rate of 4 feet per year since 1974” and other water sources “will require exploratory drilling and expensive water treatment.” Not to mention the fact that “all the aquifers in the Mosier valley are declining.” The bottom line message, typed in large bold font is “This is why we need to meter! This is why we need to conserve!”

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Oregon Legislature Adds Measure 37 “Fairness” Committee

Senator Floyd Prozanski may have one of the hottest seats in the Oregon Senate -- if not the state -- when the 2007 legislature convenes in Salem on Monday. Committee assignments handed out December 15 tapped Prozanski, a Eugene Democrat representing District 4 in southern Lane and northern Douglas counties, to chair the Special Senate Committee on Land Use Fairness. The committee was created due to widespread concern over Measure 37, the property rights law that requires compensation for value lost to regulation, or waiver of the regulation. Many believe that thousands of Measure 37 claims statewide, nearly half of them filed in the weeks before an initial deadline Dec. 4, could create far more rural residential development than Oregon voters expected, or intended, when they approved the initiative 61 to 39 percent in 2004. On the other hand, the measure itself was about fairness, a response to restrictive land-use laws against which proponents bridled. Among those concerned over the law’s outcomes — enough to have formed a semi-secretive group to work on the issue nine months ago -- is Governor Ted Kulongoski. The Governor announced "his" group back in March, and unveiled his evolving intentions in an October 13 letter to the Oregon Land Use Task Force (the "Big Look"), saying he had “directed his staff to draft … a legislative concept with the expectation that it be introduced” in the 2007 session...

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Lean Green Development Scheme

The tiny town of Mosier lays five miles east of Hood River just across the border of Wasco County and within the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area. Founded as a farming community in the mid-1800’s serving primarily as a train depot for Mosier Valley orchards the town is now under intense pressure to grow. Local Media silence has finally been broken on Mosier Creek Place. Not by the HRNews or TDChronicle but by Columbia Gorge Magazine, a lifestyle glossy distributed throughout the Northwest. In a sugary article titled “Pace-setting Innovation and Style” CGM certainly puts the development project’s best foot forward -- way, way forward. Situated on a narrow, 5-acre strip of land between the Columbia Historic Highway and Hwy. 84, and within the town of Mosier's urban growth boundry, Mosier Creek Place is not subject to Scenic Act building restrictions. According to the Columbia Gorge Magazine article architects “made a conscious effort to minimize impact of the two-story townhomes’ exterior design by replicating the natural repetitive patterns that are found in the land formations that surround them.” Perhaps, more than anything else, it is the repetition that has earn Mosier Creek Place local nicknames such as “the Tenements,” “the Chicken Coops,” and the odds on favorite to stick “The Great Wall of Mosier.”

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When Is Extreme Too Much?

Writer Temira Wagonfeld and fellow windsurfer Travis Ronk, both well known Gorge athletes, spent a bitter day on the Columbia some weeks ago. Below Temira considers the wisdom of “extreme.” Photos courtesy of Jon Malmberg Hood River serves as an outdoor sports Mecca for local and visiting extreme athletes. In many cases, resident athletes sport the muscles and VO2 max scores of professionals. As ultra-fit Americans, reveling in their superiority over the flab-covered masses, Gorge extreme sports enthusiasts tend to think of themselves as near immortal; In their minds, Mother Nature’s theoretical worst is no more troubling than the buzzing of a fly. The truth of the matter is this: there is such a thing as “too much.” Even extreme sports, where “too much” is almost part of the definition, have a safety threshold. Too often, though, extreme athletes think they’re exempt from nature’s limiting factors. Windsurfers try to sail in hurricane force winds. Kayakers paddle boats down flood-stage rivers. Mountain bikers ride at the edge of cliffs and launch themselves over huge jumps. Mountain climbers, including Brian Hall, Kelly James and Jerry Cooke, who lost their lives on Mt. Hood recently, climb in weather that’s too stormy or too conducive to avalanches. We, the residents of the Gorge, have a tendency to forget the “too” in the equation for our favorite sports. Too often we lose a talented local to a climbing accident, a mountain biking wreck, a kiteboarding crash or some other overindulgence in sport.

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Hood River Valley Residents Form Competing Groups Over Measure 37

How many farmers would get out of the business if a better offer came along? A bushel-full of them. Counting the latest Measure 37 claims, greater than a fifth of Hood River Valley’s farmland could be developed into housing projects and golf courses, according to a brief from Oregon Public Broadcasting. That’s among the latest and most pointed land-use stories making the rounds. As I’ve reported previously, the Hood River Valley farmers are subject to increasing pressures and decreasing profits, which make potentially lucrative Measure 37 claims, for many, keenly desired. To its credit, the Hood River News has awakened to this unfolding drama in its backyard and has been reporting an ongoing series on Measure 37 in recent weeks. The latest installment is a defense by valley orchardists who are filing claims — and want to tell the “other side” of Measure 37...

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A Mountain of Risks and Mirrors

It’s strange what fascination the mountains hold for humans. Nearly two weeks ago, three climbers climbed Mount Hood. We all know their names and details by now, how they appeared to have summitted, but suffered some injury, and been slammed by the ferocious storm that roared through the Northwest. It looks increasingly like none of them made it safely through that. We all know, too, about the media eruption that followed the lost climbers. The grim-faced television reporters, with their breathless nightly news accounts. The extra-bold headlines. Climbers should carry insurance, say many in the letters to newspapers, on the street, and in the Internet fora. Maybe they should be hit with a rescue bill, too — well, you know, if they’re found. On Metafilter, the popular talk-about-everything site, the climbers-must-pay thread has drawn 200 comments, more than any other recent topic. And at least one national TV program went out of its way to highlight the cost of the search — as if to say, “See what these bozos are costing us?” There’s no word on how much the average viewer has cost the mountain climbing community, though. You know, Mr. and Mrs. Public? The ones with the high-fat diets and coach-loafing lifestyle, who vastly outnumber climbers and cost them higher taxes and health care prices? How many mountain searches would it cost to treat one uninsured person with chronic heart disease?...

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Adios, Q-104

Q-104 FM, one of the only Columbia Gorge radio stations not owned by our Congressional rep, Greg Walden of Hood River, is leaving, after 38 years in The Dalles. A Dallas, Texas., based investment group bought Q-104 and will use its broadcast license to power up a new, 100,000-watt channel in Seattle, reports The Dalles Chronicle. While none of the Gorge stations boast much in the way of independent reporting — or journalistic ambitions generally — it’s never a great day when we lose a local outlet. And, of course, a local business. The station’s last local broadcast will be March 30.

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