Protect the Gorge From Urban Sprawl

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Protect the Gorge From Urban Sprawl
Expanding development, like this planned subdivision at Cape Horn in 1981, has long been a threat to the Gorge's scenic and natural resources. (photo: Friends' archive)

The Columbia River Gorge Commission is under pressure to allow urban expansion into rural lands in the national scenic area.

This pressure comes as part of the periodic review of the management plan for the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Developers are pushing the Gorge Commission to weaken rules and allow major expansions of urban development into rural areas and wild lands in the Gorge. We don't want subdivisions, strip malls, and industry encroaching on preserved lands of the national scenic area.

Management plan review will be on the agenda at the Gorge Commission's next meeting, to be held at Maryhill Museum on Tuesday, Sept. 11. A strong public turnout for this meeting will let the Gorge commissioners know that you want them to preserve and protect the outstanding resources of the scenic area. The economic prosperity in the urban areas does not need to come at the sacrifice of our national scenic area lands.

Click here to go to the Gorge Commission’s comment form. Select "General Inquiry" in the menu and fill out the info and your comment in the box provided. There is sample comment language you can copy or edit at the bottom of this page. 

Check out our fact sheet and talking points for more information.

Read more about the Gorge Commission's management plan review and our other priorities.

Sample comment language:

Note to Staff: Please distribute my comments to all of the Commissioners. 

Dear Members of the Columbia River Gorge Commission and Staff,

I am writing to urge the Gorge Commission to hold the line against urban sprawl and to resist pressure from development interests to allow more development, including subdivisions, commercial development, and industry to encroach on protected lands within the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.

The National Scenic Area requires protection of the scenic, natural, cultural, and recreation resources of the Columbia Gorge and limits growth and development to existing urban areas. Urban boundary changes must be minor in scale and protect the outstanding resources of the Gorge.

Right now there are vast tracts of undeveloped land within urban exempt areas. Gorge protection laws require urban-exempt areas to be developed at an urban scale prior to approval of any minor boundary revisions.

There is only one National Scenic Area and none of its sensitive protected lands should be converted to urban development. We and future generations are counting on the Commission to follow the law and protect our National scenic treasure from urban sprawl.

In the coming year, I encourage the Gorge Commission to focus instead on enforcing laws that protect the Gorge from illegal development and to make this a priority in their next budget cycle.