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Tag Archives: Columbia gorge

Can “Unrealized Technology” Jump-Start Biofuel Revolution?

The October issue of Wired magazine has a run an article written by Vinod Khosla titled “My Big Bet on Biofuels” It reads like an infomercial script. Khosla is a founder of Sun Microsystems. As of late, he has become passionate about clean energy and the techie mag have given him some rhetorical room. Khosla energy pledge begins like this “The road to energy independence starts in a cornfield in Nebraska.” He continues by describing E3 Biofuels new “$75 million state-of-the-art biorefinery and feedlot capable of producing 25 million gallons of ethanol a year.” What makes this refinery so much better than other biorefineries is that the refining process is fuel by cow manure rather than fossil fuels. Khosla writes that “With better fuels and more-efficient engines improving mileage by about 50 percent, we can safely predict a seven-to-tenfold gain in miles driven per acre of land over the next 25 years.” Could thinking in terms of miles-per-acre rather in miles-per-gallon add an immediate sense of gravity to filling the gas tank? And, does this new approach pay off in BTUs? Here is where the Big Bet theme of the title figures. The usefulness of E3 Biofuels technology is dependent on “unrealized technology.” ...

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Gorge Farmers Rally To Sustainable Agriculture

As America’s conscience slowly shifts toward concepts of sustainable agriculture, farmers’ markets are reestablishing themselves in Oregon communities large and small. The Sierra Club’s recent film and lecture series “The True Cost of Food”has been a motivating force nationwide in raising awareness of the hidden costs of massed-produced food and the import/export food industry.   "True Cost of Food" played a year ago August in Hood River. Part of the diverse group that had gathered were several Columbia Gorge agriculturists who took the message to heart and then took things into their own hands. During the discussion that followed the film, attendees were inspired to create a local organization that would pool resources and, hopefully, make a difference. Gorge Grown Food Network was born on the spot. ...

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Voted Off the Island! White Salmon Stages Its Own Version of “Survivor”

The White Salmon community has put itself through some rather dramatic times lately — though you’d hardly know it if you read only the other Columbia Gorge newspapers. A quick primer for everyone who doesn’t live in that most beautiful of gorge towns: This winter, the mayor fired the new police chief. (He did say something to the effect that “it’s not you, it’s me.”) That didn’t sit well with voters, who, last month, fired the mayor in a recall election. Now, the city has offered to rehire the ex-police chief. But the ex-chief, burned by the mayor, is being coy, and now the community has neither. A month from now, who knows who will be eliminated, or reinstated? In searching for, hiring, or electing citizens to both positions again, White Salmon residents might do well to remember ol’ Ed Burke’s thought: “Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays instead of serving you if he sacrifices it to your opinion.”

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Mt. Hood Fires Grow, Threatening Buildings

The storm that rushed over Mt. Hood last week lashed the forested slopes with hammer-blows of lightning, igniting a dozen wildfires, then swept east to dissapate. In its wake, though, those fires have grown, feeding on dry and beetle-killed trees, and now the Mt. Hood complex of fires spans more than 700 acres. The fires include blazes that have threatened historic buildings at Cloud Cap and Tilly Jane, and the popular Sherwood and Nottingham campgrounds along Highway 35. That road remains closed between Parkdale and White River as of this writing, Tuesday evening, and officials say they’ve only partially contained the fires. Also potentially impacted by the fires: The Dalles' municipal watershed. Fire authorities have not been idle. Last Thursday, there were about 390 people fighting the Mt. Hood fires; currently, there are about 600, including those flying three helicopters that have dumped hundreds of thousands of gallons of water. For a current fire map (a large image file), click here.

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Westlund Calls It Quits, the Weenie

Ben Westlund, independent Oregonian, today: "At the beginning of this campaign, I made a commitment to the people of Oregon, and that was: I was in it to win it…  And that I absolutely would not play a spoiler role. Therefore, today, with no regrets (but some sadness) I am here to honor that commitment. I am proud to keep that promise to the people of Oregon ... despite the fact that I unquestionably could qualify for the ballot... by announcing my withdrawal from the race for Governor." Odd, this, coming after the apparently successful signature-gathering from the Westlund campaign. I don't recall this vaunted promise to avoid being a spoiler at all costs, either — a rather silly promise from an independent candidate, anyway. But alright. Here's some scuttlebutt about what may have influenced Westlund to run away from the fray. Perhaps Westlund was too scared to talk to us about land use and took the easy way out instead? (I kid, I kid!) But it does occur to me that Westlund had an obligation to see this thing through, at least a bit further, to put the fear of God into the Tweedle Dee-and-Dum candidates from the Democrats and Republicans. If Westlund had hoped to shake things up, fighting to get into a debate and eventually acting as a spoiler would actually have been effective. At least next time, the major parties would have had to think and worry about another independent candidate, and been forced to address his issues in a campaign. By dropping out, Westlund may be sort of innoculating the powers-that-be against the idea of a vital centrist candidate. 'Oh, he'll never make it - just wait a few months and he'll drop out.' Sigh.

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“I Saw The Chalk”

I have seen the chalk. It was plastered all over the boulder problems at my local climbing area, a modest trad crag at a state park where by long tradition climbers make do without bolts and with minimal chalk. Also, there are signs saying "Limit chalk use." The problems were smeared white. Some boulder-dolt had, probably in one visit, smeared chalk on every crimper on the wall, and several more problems around the far side. A classic crack was greasy and whitened with chalk from bottom to top. It’s damn well about time that climbers collectively grow up. The miscreants who ruined my day didn’t set out to break some chalking records; they were following the herd instinct of many climbers, for whom slapping on great powdery handfuls of white courage is simply what you do after you put on your shoes. Thing is, other recreationists act like adults. Hikers and backpackers, what’s their motto? Leave no trace. Climbers should do the same. It doesn’t matter if your friends chalk up. It doesn’t matter if your hands get sweaty. It doesn’t matter what whiny excuse you come up with — leave no trace. LEAVE. NO. TRACE...

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Thorny Questions of Oregon Land’s Future, and the Gorge’s Scenic Area, Go To the Courts

When Oregonians passed Measure 37 two years ago, they thought to strike a blow for fairness, a defense of the little guy against big government. And perhaps, by jump-starting the land-use conversation, they did. They also raised a number of thorny questions. One of Measure 37’s central unanswered questions, as I wrote previously, is transferability. There are three cases on this issue — one each in Oregon’s Crook, Jackson and Columbia counties — in the courts now, awaiting resolution. The point at issue in these cases, and no doubt dozens or hundreds of other M37 claims, is whether a property owner can sell his development rights secured under M37. Meanwhile, the Oregon Court of Appeals is expected to soon hear another, perhaps even more far-reaching case: Does Measure 37 trump the gorge's National Scenic Area?...

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Property Rights, Abortion, Term Limits … One Interesting November

Oregonians — whose political initiatives so often stand alone, or at least first, in the country — will have 10 initiative measures on our ballots this November. They are Measures 39 through 48, and their range of issues sound familiar themes: Property rights and term limits, parental notification and expanding the state prescription drug program. Blogger Ridenbaugh has a quick take on the chances of each measure for passage here. There are a number of these measures which will require thought and debate for me to take a stand for or against. That said, several measures are slam-dunk, either deserving passage or those that absolutely shouldn’t be law. Those that I’ll support: ”¢ Measure 39: Bans governments from taking land under eminent domain for private projects or sales. Eminent domain is a necessary power sometimes used for public projects. But governments have no business taking a person’s home on behalf or a private company or developer....

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Hood River SEAL Killed During Major Iraq Operation

You’ve probably read or heard about the former Hood River man, Marc Alan Lee, 28, killed in Iraq last week. A SEAL team member, Lee fell in battle. The local news stories have been appropriately eulogistic. A military blogger, Blackfive, was even more so (“Greater love hath no man...”), but with a few additional details. ...

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Mt. Hood Wilderness Vote Coming Soon

The bipartisan Oregon plan that would grow the Mt. Hood national wilderness area by 41 percent could get a Congressional vote this month, after passing the House Resources Committee with a unanimous vote. The “Mt. Hood Legacy Act” is the brainchild of U.S. Reps. Greg Walden, R-Ore., of Hood River, and Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore ., of Portland. By granting 77,000-plus acres of federal land new protection, the bill would, Blumenauer told the Oregonian, “push the limits in terms of consensus.”...

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