Leaders plan Scenic Area forums

A long-time wish of many Gorge citizens for a federal hearing about Scenic Area issues is about to be granted.

Last week Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., said after 15 years it was time for the government officials to review how the first-ever legislative concept was meeting its reality.

"We'll hear about what is working well and the flaws and then we can evaluate that information and decide what changes may or may not be needed to be made in the statute and in public policy," said Walden, who wants the oversight hearing to take place in the near future.

Martha Bennett, executive director of the Gorge Commission, said the bi-state entity welcomes the opportunity to work with Walden and other interested legislators.

"If Congress has decided it wants a different level of protection for resources then we will be more than pleased to work with them," she said.

Gorge Reality, a private property rights watchdog group, is also "encouraged" about the upcoming hearing.

In January the Lyle-based non-profit organization submitted petitions signed by almost 5,000 citizens asking for federal legislators to take that action.

"Since its inception, the Gorge Commission (primarily the staff) has selectively interpreted and implemented the Act to their liking," said Janis Sauter, Gorge Reality vice-chair. "There are some major problems here and our hope is that the hearing will bring about desperately needed changes."

In late 1986 President Ronald Reagan signed into law the Columbia River National Scenic Area Act. The first chapter of that federal legislation was fraught with controversy as a struggle ensued to protect cultural, scenic, natural and recreational resources without infringing on private property rights.

Oregon legislators finally stepped in after hearing an outpouring of complaints for more than 10 years about the "inconsistent" and "inflexible" actions taken by the Gorge Commission.

To address those concerns, Sen. Ted Ferrioli, R-John Day, successfully lobbied for a state oversight committee that will conduct three official hearings this year.

The panel is made up of five bi-partisan Oregon legislators including co-chair Patti Smith, R-Corbett.n

The first hearing will be March 15 in The Dalles, followed by a June 26 forum in Hood River and an Oct. 15 session in Corbett. Smith said the actual meeting places and times have yet to be determined and will be advertised at a later date.

"What we're trying to accomplish is to ensure that the Scenic Act is administered with fairness and balance," said Smith.

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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 www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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