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Tag Archives: Columbia gorge

Hood River Council Candidate Sees Future in Blogging

We here at New West Columbia Gorge are, for obvious reasons, very keen on the idea of an online community in our region. Although there are numerous websites, Gorge bloggers are still a rare breed. One exception is Arthur Babitz. I first met Arthur several weeks ago at an impromptu gathering he had organized in our neighborhood as part of his campaign for Hood River City Council. Since then, I have been following his blog, vicariously living the “excitement” of being a first time politician. Arthur is also encouraging current City Council members to create a community forum online in an effort to "improve the quality of the discussion" of issues facing our town. Today, I asked him a few questions about his blogging experience and to expand on some of his ideas for a City Council blog...

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Turn Out the Lights—The Season is Over

The Columbia Gorge put the finishing touches on another tourist season last weekend. An estimated 20,000 festival-goers converged at the fruity finale, Harvest Fest, to eat, shop and take in the country air. Although the event is centered at the Expo Center of the Port of Hood River the droves quickly spill over to the downtown, the valley, and all along the Gorge. Day trippers from Portland are the bread and butter of the Gorge tourist economy I am sure I was first lured to the Gorge by one of the countless festivals. Was it Blossom Fest? Maybe Hood Fest? I can’t remember. As the years go by I notice festivals less and instead find myself irritated by the busy streets, crowded beaches, booked-out restaurants. I used to love being in the middle of such a happening, frenetic hotspot. But lately, I find myself migrating up-hill during the busy season. Yes—despite the all the benefits of this booming economic engine—sometimes it’s hard to share...

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Poll: Oregonians Regret Passing Measure 37

We Oregonians, hoping to fend off intrusive government, passed Measure 37 two years ago by a muscular majority — but we wouldn’t if the election were re-voted today. That’s the upshot of a recent poll of 405 Oregon voters. Voters would oppose Measure 37 today by 2-to-1, according to the poll by the lefty statistics-mongers at Greenberg, Quinlan, Rosner. The turnaround in public perception is stunning; or, it would be if you haven’t been reading about the spawn of Measure 37. See, it’s hard to miss the point when you hear things like one Oregon farmer saying of a neighbor’s mega-development, “This is not what I voted for.” The poll, showing what the pollsters called “buyer’s remorse,” comes out this week just days before voters around the West will cast ballots on similar property rights initiatives...

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And Now, the Main Event: Measure 37 vs. the Gorge Commission

There’s a court case quietly underway that may affect everyone who lives in or has a stake in the Columbia Gorge. At issue: The future of the preserving — often irritating, sometimes stifling — land-use rules that have kept ambitious land owners from turning the Oregon side of the river into a vast entertainment and housing development. The case on the docket of the Oregon Court of Appeals is titled the Columbia River Gorge Commission vs. Hood River County, and it’s scheduled for oral arguments on Dec. 7. We might more accurately call the case Oregonians In Action vs. the Gorge Commission, for those are the real actors here. In the court case, two Hood River-area property owners say that Oregon’s Measure 37 supercedes the National Scenic Area rules developed by the Gorge Commision. The men, Stephen Struck and Paul Mansur, want to build a few houses on their land; under current rules designed to protect the Gorge from sprawl, they don’t meet minimum lot sizes. Land-use rules have unarguably preserved the Gorge from hyper-development. They do so by frustrating many property owners’ wishes, though. Land rules are at the heart not just of this case but of Oregon’s future in many aspects...

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Columbia Gorge Plans and Politics

The Dalles Chronicle has recycled a front page story concerning a $5 million promise made twenty years ago to encourage economic growth “in existing urban areas” of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area”. Sue Ryan’s story first ran over the weekend in the Hood River News. But that’s okay, it takes at least two readings to decipher all the acronyms and figure out just exactly who will be administering the (hopefully) forthcoming $1million in government funding. And...Candidates for Oregon District 26 answer questions about education, health, public saftey and the viability of Measure 37.

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Saxton Wins Endorsements — But Not Mine

As a fellow with a history in newspapers, including a little time writing editorials, I always read a paper’s opinion pages, letters and all. Those pages, especially the letters, are the pulse of a community, so they are always interesting — but rarely surprising. Enter the Sunday Oregonian, with its endorsement for the Oregon governor’s race. The O picked Republican lawyer Ron Saxton, writing that “Change begins at the top.” The O’s endorsement was one of three that Saxton has garnered recently from the state’s main newspapers, running just ahead of two for Gov. Ted Kulongoski. Oregon has all sorts of issues — like, off the top of my head, a growing population with a shrinking state police force, a wobbly tax system, a struggling public education infrastructure and legislators so ethically challenged they make Tony Soprano look like a stand-up guy. ...

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A Technologist’s Take On Google, The Dalles, and the Future of It All

There’s been plenty of ink spilled about the almighty Google and its new, semi-secret plant in The Dalles. (Read previous thoughts here and here.) But Wired magazine’s article by George Gilder this issue lays out the technology, the competition between search engines and the future of the Internet — what Gilder calls the “new global ganglia of computers and cables” — as clearly as I’ve seen anywhere. Gilder’s answer to The Question — why in the world did Google locate their server farm in The Dalles? — is the most thoughtful and cogent yet. The answer remains pretty close to what we’ve thought already: Cheap power and high-speed fiber. But the ramifications, and the specs, are interesting. Consider, for example, that some analysts predict that the insatiable need for air conditioning and other power needs of the massive server farms and the rest of the Internet’s physical infrastructure could eventually consume half of the world’s electrical output...

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10,000 Years Later, Ice-Age Floods Getting Their Due

There’s a surging interest in the Ice Age floods (aka Missoula Floods) that rolled down the Columbia River channel thousands of years ago, carving out much of our modern gorge. All sorts of things are washing up in the new tide of interest, including Congressional action and a new Columbia Gorge interest group. The Ice Age Floods Institute is a group of Missoula Floods devotees with a number of local chapters. The newest chapter is in the Columbia Gorge, with about two dozen people thus far, according to organizer Terry Hurd. (Email: iceagefloods@yahoo.com.) The group will meet at different sites around the Gorge; its next meeting will be in Stevenson a week from Thursday, on Oct. 19, at the Interpretive Center, starting at 7 p.m. ...

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Gorge Property Rights Activists Stick Together As GLUE

The Dalles Chronicle has reported that the usual activists, the property rights rebels against the crushing might of the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area, have transmogrified. That’s right, Gorge Landowners United is no more. Now, the activists rally under the banner of Gorge Land Use Equity. GLUE. As in, sticks like. As in, they’re all over the property rights front, struggling to right the wrongs foisted on hapless property owners by the over-weaning Gorge Commission, and they’re not going anywhere, thank you very much. Heroes, really. That’s how I think of them. Each has a story to tell about standing up to The Man. (Or, really, since the Gorge Commission’s most recent and past executive director have been women, and since the patron saint of the pro-planning Friends of the Columbia Gorge is also female, The Woman.) And now, they’re telling them loud and clear. (Okay, actually, they formed GLUE back in July and didn’t really tell anyone in, like, the media.) But they have a common voice. From GLUE’s Internet manifesto: “Regulatory power has exceeded its authority and has established land use prohibitions and restrictions that have deprived affected Gorge landholders of the reasonable use of their property without compensation and adversely affected all Gorge residents by inhibiting reasonable economic development necessary to their future.”...

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Good Deeds By The Truckload

The Columbia Gorge’s fall charity events began to blip on the radar screen about a month ago for me. Little did I know how they'd all come together. First, Sharla Weber, a board member of Helping Hands Against Violence, reminded me about their annual Auction Gala benefit on Saturday, Sept. 30. Not long after, I received an email from do-gooder extraordinaire, Susan Hess, about the Forest Service’s annual “Pick up the Pinchot” scheduled for the morning of Sept. 30. Also in my mail box was an evite to the Columbia Gorge CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) “Art With A Heart” art sale and benefit. The date was, of course, September 30. So many worthy causes, so little time! Happily, the timing worked. At 8 a.m. on Saturday morning, I packed three boys (two mine and one borrowed — see photo) in the car and headed across the river to Panther Creek Campground in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, not far from Carson, Wash. The volunteers — more than 20 of us — were greeted by Forest Service employees Jon Nake, Nancy Ryke and Byron Carlisle and sent out with bags to scour the area for any trash left behind by campers...

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