Enforcing Gorge Protection Laws

Friends is a citizen watchdog ensuring enforcement of laws related to the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area

Enforcing Gorge Protection Laws
The city of Stevenson, WA, an urban area within the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. (photographer: Casey Roeder)

The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area Act was adopted to protect the scenic, natural, cultural, and recreation resources of the Gorge from urban sprawl, mining, industrial and commercial activities, and other uses. However, the Act and other laws are only as strong as their implementation. As the only conservation organization focusing exclusively on protecting the Gorge, Friends vigorously enforces the Scenic Area Act and other laws to protect this national treasure for future generations.

Land Use Review

The Scenic Area Act and other laws allow a wide range of land use and development activities in the National Scenic Area, as long as they do not cause adverse impacts to scenic, natural, cultural, or recreation resources. Friends tracks land use application notices issued by a variety of federal, interstate, state, and local agencies to ensure that proposed land use and development proposals will not adversely affect Gorge resources. Friends review and comments on every publicly noticed land use application in the National Scenic Area. When necessary, Friends appeals land use decisions to ensure compliance with the applicable law and protect Gorge resources.

Litigation and Appeals

The Scenic Area Act authorizes citizen groups like Friends of the Columbia Gorge to appeal government decisions that violate the Act and to sue government agencies when they fail to implement the Act. Accordingly, when Gorge resources are threatened by unlawful decisions and violations, Friends exercises our right to file legal challenges. Similarly, when Gorge decision makers protect Gorge resources by upholding the law, Friends helps defend their decisions against challenges by development interests. Friends is currently participating in multiple legal cases and has previously been involved in numerous cases involving the National Scenic Area.


Issues


Whistling Ridge Energy Project

Whistling Ridge Energy Project

The poorly sited wind energy project would harm important natural and scenic resources.

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Nestlé Water Bottling Plant Proposal

Nestlé Water Bottling Plant Proposal

The proposed “exchange” of publicly-owned Oxbow Springs water may harm Gorge resources and deserves a full public-interest review.

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Friends' Current Legal Docket

Friends' Current Legal Docket

See a review of Friends' ongoing legal cases.

Browse Docket
National Scenic Area Case Law

National Scenic Area Case Law

See all case law involving the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.

Browse Past Case Law
Legal Resources

Legal Resources

Access legal and conservation information relevant to the Columbia River Gorge.

See Resources