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The Columbia Gorge Manifesto

Downloadable Map of the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area:

Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area Map

Created in 2009 and periodically updated, the following list has emerged from my many travels within the Columbia Gorge for hiking and photography. My dream for the Gorge is that I see these things happen in my lifetime.

  1. A permanent ban on large-scale development projects (over million visitor count per year) within the Gorge Scenic Area and any cities inside its boundaries.  
  2. Riverside trails on Oregon and Washington sides of the river
  3. Increased funding for trail construction and maintenance
  4. Lengthen the season of operation for popular trails where gates limit access, such as Herman Creek and Hamilton Mountain.  
  5. Pedestrian and bicycle pathways on Bridge of the Gods and Hood River bridges
  6. The restoration of Celilo Falls (Friends of Celilo Falls is an organization supporting this project)
  7. Reopening of lost Native American heritage sites to their tribal owners
  8. Scenic pullouts on I-84 and SR-14 for photography and sightseeing 
  9. Reduction of haze through decommissioning of large-scale cattle operations east of the Scenic Area.  
  10. Implement clean-air programs in the Portland/Vancouver area to reduce pollution from urban sources 
  11. A ban on wind turbine placement within 20 miles of the Scenic Area boundary and in the sightline from Dog Mountain east to Biglow Canyon
  12. Restoration of the Old Columbia River Scenic Highway as a pedestrian and cycling trail 
  13. Restoration of salmon runs to historic numbers before dam construction
  14. A ban on clearcut logging within the scenic area boundaries, and immediate restoration of existing clearcuts.  Logging methods that do not result in visual impact would still be allowed.   
  15. Removal of invasive species such as Scotch Broom (Cytisus scoparius), English Ivy (Hedera helix), Himalayan Blackberry (Rubus armeniacus), and Evergreen Clematis (Clematis vitalba), especially within rights-of-way for railroads, power lines, and highways.  
  16. Wildlife-friendly lane barriers on I-84
  17. Protection of pristine water sources within the Scenic Area boundary
  18. A ban on transportation of hazardous substances through the area, including imported trash, chemicals, and radioactive materials  
  19. Sensible limits on cumulative impact to ensure large numbers of small projects don't destroy resources piece by piece.  
  20. Provide careful, independent monitoring of critical resources such as species diversity, air and water quality, and scenic vistas to minimize unanticipated exploitation of protected resources.  
  21. On all projects with environmental impact, levy mitigation fees to fund efforts to create or restore compensatory habitat so the project has no net impact.  For projects with risks such as invasive species introduction or chemical spills, fees would go into an escrow account to pay for cleanup efforts and fund restoration work for other items herein.  
  22. Restore forest and create a protected easement for the Pacific Crest Trail northbound from the Bridge of the Gods where it passes through private timberland that's been clearcut.  
  23. Relocation of the 66 wind turbines in eastern Oregon and Washington that mar the view from Dog Mountain
  24. A "vertical growth boundary" protecting land from 500 feet of elevation to the top of all ridgelines within the Scenic Area boundary that are higher than 500 feet in elevation.  
  25. A single "Gorge Recreation Pass" that's affordably priced (less than $20 annually) that gives access to all recreation sites within the Scenic Area boundary, whether federal, state, or local properties.  The pass would open access to recreation to more people, especially those with limited economic means.  
  26. Creation of one seat on the Columbia Gorge Commission for a Native American representative elected by all area tribes.  
  27. A land swap program that relocates timber harvest areas subject to clearcutting inside the Scenic Area boundary to sites outside of it.  
  28. Restoration of the upper parts of the Shellrock Mountain trail and construction of a short segment to the mountain's summit.  
  29. Provision of recreation funding through a commemorative license plate issued in Oregon and Washington
  30. A tax on bottled water statewide that funds recreation and watershed improvements throughout the state
  31. Replacement of invasive species in power-line rights-of-way with native milkweed to provide habitat for the endangered Monarch butterfly

How you can join me in this dream and make it reality:

Send this list, along with your own additions and comments, to your elected officials.  Click here to find them by your zip code.  
Write to the Columbia Gorge Commission, and tell them to implement these ideas. 
Join conservation groups such as the Columbia Land Trust and Friends of the Gorge, and let them know you support these ideas.
Be your own agent of change:  Volunteer to build and maintain trails, remove invasives, and write comments to agencies on development projects.  

Scorecard:  

  1. The Boardman coal plant (part of item 9) will be decommissioned in 2020.  
  2. As of November, 2013, a restored segment of the Old Columbia River Scenic Highway opened from John B. Yeon State Park to Moffett Creek, allowing pedestrian and bicycle access from Troutdale to Cascade Locks without traveling on Interstate 84.  
  3. The Herman Creek Trailhead is now open in the winter months.  
  4. On Sunday, September 15, the Historic Highway Revived celebration in Cascade Locks closed the Bridge of the Gods to auto traffic so pedestrians and cyclists could have full access part of the day.  While not the best solution, it was a step in the right direction.  
  5. The Port of Cascade Locks has announced that they are conducting an advanced feasibility study to determine the cost to install a stand-alone bicycle and pedestrian structure for the Bridge of the Gods.  (link to planning document See page 32.)  Similar work is under consideration for the Hood River Bridge.  

 

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