Scenic Area

Don't budget out public input

The Columbia River Scenic Area: a river runs through it -- and so do plenty of varied opinions.

The Scenic Area, by very identity, is split down the middle. By a river, by mission, and by ideas.

Its dual mission, which seems sometimes to contradict, is to protect natural resources (what resources!) and promote urban-area economic development (what potential!)

A third aspect of the Scenic Area's bisection is budgetary. (See article, page A1.) Serious budget crunches face the state governments of Oregon and Washington; they share funding for the Gorge Commission that oversees the goals of the Scenic Act.

The budgetary problems come along just as the Gorge Commission conducts the first major review of its Scenic Area management plan, on the 10th anniversary of the plan's adoption.

The agency is moving forth with its three-tiered plan review, despite the budget shortfalls emanating from Olympia and Salem, and that is as it should be. With some ups and downs and criticism from people of all viewpoints, the Commission has weathered its rock-and-hard-place position ever since its inception. Its new director, Martha Bennett, has displayed energy and openness since coming on board mid-year.

Yet Bennett and the Commission should re-think her suggestion this week that public involvement might be one of the things that get cut back.

Bennett envisions that fewer meetings in fewer locations, to take public input, would be one effect of the bi-state budget bugaboo.

But the Commission should find other ways to reduce its budget. The Scenic Act has come to a milestone in its young history. Budget crunch or not, this is no time to consider curtailing opportunities for people to speak to the work of the Commission.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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