Over the past three years, Friends’ staff have engaged with the congressional offices of Senator Ron Wyden and Congressman Earl Blumenauer to discuss a vision for the Columbia Gorge. With the ever-growing need for congestion management of recreation areas as well as climate–resilience strategies, bold moves are needed and our elected leaders are responding.
This month, Congressman Blumenauer released a four-page summary outlining concepts for added protections and enhancements to the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area and the Mount Hood National Forest. Within the concepts is support for Friends’ Gorge Towns to Trails vision!
The summary is a great start and now Congressman Blumenauer would like to hear from the public and has opened a comment period until Friday, January 7, 2022. Please read the summary linked above and consider sharing your thoughts with Congressman Blumenauer. As it relates to the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, here are some thoughts to consider sharing:
- Gorge Towns to Trails: It is wonderful to see mention of the Gorge Towns to Trails vision for a loop trail around the Columbia Gorge in the summary! Please include direction to the U.S. Forest Service and funding to ensure completion of the Mosier to The Dalles as well as funding to support completion of the full Gorge loop trail vision. Also, please direct the agencies to consider accessible recreation options wherever possible.
- Gorge Transportation: Creating a cohesive Gorge transportation system for recreation users, as well as Gorge communities has been a dream of many people for decades. Federal legislation could help create a centralized transportation system and use a unified parking fee system (see “One Gorge Pass” below) to help pay for the accessible transit throughout the Gorge. Ask Congressman Blumenauer to create a transportation entity to work with local transit partners and access and disperse federal funds. (Learn more about a current Gorge Pass that is available to the public.)
- One Gorge Pass: As part of a cohesive transportation system, Congressman Blumenauer’s legislation could create a single "Gorge Pass” to make federal, state and local recreation sites and trailheads fall under one fee system, ensuring a seamless, one-stop option for recreation users. This is an idea whose time has come.
- Limit Clearcuts in the National Scenic Area: While not mentioned in the summary, clearcutting forests has significant scenic impacts in the Columbia Gorge, as well as worsening climate impacts. Ask Congressman Blumenauer to consider measures in the legislation to limit clearcutting in the National Scenic Area.
Submit comment by January 7, 2022 here: https://bit.ly/3nCG8Ea
And don’t forget to thank Congressman Blumenauer for working to make the Columbia Gorge an even better place to live, work and play!