Scenic Area landowners await buy-out

One year ago, the deadline passed for some Gorge landowners to get relief from property down zoned under the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area Act.

Until March 31, 2001, owners of Special Management Area designated properties could offer their land for sale to the federal government and have appraisals based on its pre-Act value. After that date the land would be valued on its more limited developable use.

In 2000, former U.S. Sen. Slade Gorton, R-Wash., pushed through the legislation to stop years of wrangling over Scenic Area land appraisals.

The U.S. Forest Service now has $7 million out in offers on "high priority" SMA properties, with 77 parcels topping the list of 185 offers. The first choice sites have been identified as "sensitive," because of natural habitat, view location, and cultural or scenic value, according to Mike Ferris, spokesman for the Forest Services' Scenic Area office.

The latest round of offers includes 2,359 acres in Skamania County, Wash., 415 in Klickitat County, Wash., 579 in Wasco County, 171 in Clark County, 180 in Hood River County and 480 in Multnomah County.

Forest Service officials are lobbying Congress for another $30 million to buy the offered 3,500-4,000 acreage before it reverts to the less regulated General Management Area zoning, as mandated under the Act. Ten million in funding for Scenic Area land acquisition has been requested in the president's budget for fiscal year 2002. If passed, that monetary amount would be the largest one-year appropriation ever received in the Scenic Area and the highest in the country.

Since the passage of the Scenic Act in 1986, the federal government has spent $47 million to buy 35,527 acres Gorge-wide.


(In Saturday's issue, the Hood River News will take a closer look at controversies within the land aquisition program, in Part II of "Scenic Area Sales").

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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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