Another Voice

Residents' Committee's form must follow function

By JERRY LAMAITA

Special to the News

I don't have any particular political stance, nor do I hold myself out as a rigid environmentalist, I don't buy organic foods, and my house is made of wood.

However, from merely an observational standpoint, I could not help but notice what appeared to be quite a contradiction at the Meadows ski trail meeting. The Hood River Valley Residents Committee testimony seemed to center on a strong concern for the adverse environmental impact that a cross-country ski trail would have on the south side of the valley. A cause that we can all relate to, however the dichotomy arises when one takes the time to examine both the environmental practices and the history behind the actions of members of the Committee.

In the mid '60s several prominent Committee members were heavily vying for the permit to operate a ski area in the National Forest. They lost their fight to the group that currently operates Mt. Hood Meadows. Since then, there has been a formal four-decade attempt in the courts, at the administrative level, and in the media to stop every single project undertaken by Meadows management. Either that group had a sudden epiphany of environmental consciousness or, perhaps, more realistically, we are witness to a case of sour grapes that has existed since Lyndon Johnson was in office. I can't help but ask myself: if it was completely acceptable for one group to develop a ski area in a virgin forest, why is it so abhorrent for another to have done exactly the same?

With respect to the comment concerning practices that "threaten the health of forest and agricultural properties," a comment that seems to codify the stance of this group, I find mentioning these two in the same sentence akin to the cat guarding the henhouse. The mutual exclusivity of the health of a forest and the health of a farm are not subject to debate, just look at the Amazon. After all, you first had to first eliminate the forest to get the farm. In addition to deforestation, farming practices that utilize massive amounts of pesticides, inorganic fertilizer and polluting smudge pots to control frost is the absolute antithesis of a virgin forest. In fact, one could draw the conclusion that the large-scale inorganic farms owned and operated by several prominent Committee members, gives rise to the abstract possibility that environmental saber rattling is merely being used to deflect scrutiny from their own dirty environmental practices. That, of course, could be the view if one were, say, an environmental purist.

So while Committee members fertilize their farms and log their land, run cattle and alter the course of rivers, you have to ask yourself, what's the agenda here? The appeal to all our sense of environmental stewardship is compelling; we all struggle with the need to protect public lands, with the economic realities facing families, with well-managed recreation. However, as well intended as some groups' causes at first blush seem to be, the message and credibility is rendered meaningless when form does not follow function.

In life, if you position yourself as arbiter, remember not to hold others to a higher standard than you hold yourself.

Jerry LaMaita lives in Parkdale.

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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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