No-Casino joins outcry over tribe's road

No-Casino activists have joined an outcry for enforcement action over an "illegal" road across tribal land just east of Hood River.

Friends of the Columbia Gorge and the Columbia River Gorge Commission have already registered protests over the new access road built by the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs last November. They contend the unpermitted grading of the 714-foot section violates the resource protection of the National Scenic Area Act.

On Jan. 27, Toni Vakos, No-Casino coordinator, sent a letter to Michael Benedict, county planning director, asking him to take a tough stand on the issue.

"I am confident that if a private landowner had attempted this construction, legal action would have been taken against that individual," said Vakos, who added that the "letter of the law" should apply to all persons equally.

Benedict said he plans to meet this week with Martha Bennett, executive director of the Gorge Commission, to discuss possible mitigation measures the tribe could take to repair any damages to vegetation in the area.

But Greg Leo, tribal spokesperson, said the Warm Springs would view any replanting requirements as "ridiculous." He said the old logging road was simply being maintained and repaired as allowed by law for safe passage of heavy equipment.

According to Leo, that machinery was used in geo-technical studies which determined the 40-acre trust parcel on the steep slope was stable enough to house a gambling casino.

"This issue has absolutely no substance," said Leo. "This was a legitimate activity and no damage was done to our property -- we have been, and will continue to be, good stewards of the land."

However, the three opposing organizations contend that the road crossed newly-acquired tribal properties near the Mark O. Hatfield State Park that were not protected by "sovereign" trust status so were not exempt from both state and federal laws.

"In Oregon and in the Scenic Area, a use that is discontinued for one year or more loses its legal status," said Vakos.

Bennett said because the logging road had long since ceased to be used for that purpose, access was no longer a vested right -- especially since the recent passage over it had been for an unrelated use.

In addition, she said Scenic Area land-use laws required a road to be serviceable at the time regular maintenance work was undertaken and a special permit was required for all other changes. Bennett said Terry Angle, tribal contractor, told staffers that the road had to be reconstructed because it was blocked by slides, rocks, logs, and a washout.

"All of these reasons lead me to conclude that the Warm Springs should have obtained a permit from your department before working on or using the skid road," said Bennett in a letter to Benedict dated Jan. 18.

Leo believes these charges have been levied in an attempt to build momentum against use of the site for a casino. However, he said tribal leaders plan to bring the proposed plan for a Hood River gaming operation before the 1,900 full voting members of the Warm Springs later this spring. If approval is given, he said the tribe will immediately set four years of planning in motion. Leo said the Warm Springs also plan to continue a "tasteful" building tradition and are making every attempt to alleviate "reasonable" concerns brought to them by citizens and local governmental bodies.

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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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