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Gorge News (c426)

Residents Give Gorge Commission an Earful on Broughton Resort

"...take a slow, measured approach to approving development of the Gorge." We’ve reported here about the proposed new Columba Gorge resort at Broughton, site of the historic, decrepit lumber mill west of Bingen. (Across from the world-famous windsurfing site, the Hatchery.) Now the “Broughton Landing” proposal has gotten serious: It’s up before the Gorge Commission, which met to discuss the matter earlier this week. The Stevenson family — which owns Bingen-based SDS Lumber — and Broughton family are asking the Gorge Commission to rezone the former lumber mill property to allow for an ambitious resort development project. The question is: Should the commission allow the families to re-develop their 260-acre parcel into a sprawling resort in the heart of the Gorge? ...

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Gorge Grown Envisions ’07

Gorge Grown Food Network is hosting a winter meeting at Celilo Restaurant in Hood River on January 22nd. Members, supporters and new-comers are welcome to attend. A menu has been prepared by chef Ben Stenn. RSVP is necessary—for more information visit Gorge Grown online. What makes some grassroots activism so successful? A just cause, global awareness, the commitment and hard work of dedicated community members? Yes, those are all essential ingredients of social change and reform—and Gorge Grown Food Network has all of that in spades. But they have something else that not all non-profit organizations can offer…great food and fine wine. GGFN Coordinator Katie McKendrick says Monday night’s gathering will be “a chance to share committee progress and needs, and plan for a Gorge Community Food Conference in late March 2007.” Also, GGFN is looking for ideas and volunteers to help take the highly successful Farmer’s Market on the road, creating a Moveable Feast this summer that can travel to several Gorge communities throughout the week—bringing it back to the people—and fostering this Gorge-wide cause...

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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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Weather Forecast Gets ‘Suessed’

Bleak, gloomy, depressing—look outside and pick an adjective (or expletive) and brace yourself for another year of Northwest weather. In the desperate hope that maybe, just maybe, it was snowing rather than raining on the mountain, I checked the USDA Forest Service Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center. Well, the weather forecast was predictably dismal. Wet, warm air is turning the ski slopes to that notorious “Portland Cement.” However, the forecast included the following ‘meteorological sonnet’ which I have posted in full below. Thank you, NWAC, for keeping us informed and entertained. “So the New Year’s arrived, And the rains have begun— Going out right now, Shouldn’t be much fun. Best to wait for a bit, And let temperatures cool— It’s better for safety, As a general rule.

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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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Severe Conditions Threaten Rescuers — and Hope Fades for Hikers

The three hikers who disappeared on Mount Hood over the weekend are still missing. Kelly James, 48, and Brian Hall, 37, both from Dallas, Texas, and Jerry “Nikko” Cooke, 36, of Brooklyn N.Y. set out to summit Mt. Hood on Thursday, Dec. 7, spend the night on the mountain, and descend to Timberline lodge the following day. All three men were considered experienced mountaineers. In a garbled cell phone call from James on the afternoon of Dec. 10th to his home, he mentioned an injury and that he had been left by Hall and Cooke, who had presumably gone on for help. Both the Hood River News and the Oregonian are covering this story, which has also gained national media coverage. Particular attention is being given to the rescue effort—made up of several Search and Rescue teams including Hood River’s own Crag Rats. Severe weather conditions on Mount Hood are making the search both difficult and dangerous for would be rescuers. Here is a video clip from Lindsey Clunes of Corvallis Mountain Rescue Unit.

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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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Oregon’s Land Rush, A Gorge Court Case, and Light-Hearted About Biofuel

A note to our more sensitive readers: This article contains mildly opinionated statements, and an exclamation point. I made up one word, too. This week includes a deadline for Measure 37 development claims in Oregon (not the deadline, but a significant one, in that hereafter claimants must have a use for their land that central-planning types have actually turned down, and not just pie-in-the-sky statements on their claim forms), and hundreds of landowners, big and small, have rushed to demand the right to pole-vault over Oregon's hurdleanimous land-use laws. The Oregonian’s Laura Oppenheimer wrote a worthwhile overview of the land rush. One interesting quote is from state Rep. Bill Garrard, R-Klamath Falls, who supports Measure 37 and says that many Oregonians have “a lot of misunderstanding” about the law. (It’s simple enough in concept: People should be able to use their land however they want, the heck with the neighbors and with land-use laws enacted since they bought the land.) Says Garrard, “I feel it is the Legislature's responsibility to do something about it." Well, sha-freakin’-zam!...

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Skiing at Meadows by mid-December?

We could get our mountain back within a couple weeks. That’s the word from Oregon transportation officials about the reopening of Highway 35 south of Hood River. Steven Harry, a PR rep for the Oregon Department of Transportation, has sent out a press release saying that crews are working quickly. He writes, “Barring unforeseen conditions or bad weather, the highway is expected to reopen by Dec. 15.” The highway was cut — and Mount Hood Meadows ski area cut off — November 6 and 7, you’ll recall, when continuing rains sent huge landslides and overflowing streams across it. A million cubic yards of soil, trees and boulders sluiced down Mount Hood’s flanks. The overflowing White River dug a new channel along, under and over Highway 35; that, and overflows and undercuts along the Hood River, Clark and Newton Creeks washed out a total of 2.5 miles of road. ODOT says it will hold two public meeting to discuss the wash-out, the repairs and the ultimate rebuilding, or fate, of Highway 35. This, as an Oregonian article points out, is an open question. How many times should we build a highway in an active flood and slide zone?...

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