Meadows wins bid for new chairlift

‘Vista Express’ will provide easier access for beginners

Mt. Hood Meadows, Ltd., has won a challenge against construction of a new chairlift at its ski resort.

Last week, the regional office of the U.S. Forest Service overturned an appeal against “Vista Express” that will extend for one mile and provide beginners with easier access to ski slopes.

“I’m not really surprised that we won the appeal because the way we designed and located the lift we avoided disturbing any environmentally sensitive areas. We utilized sustainable design criteria to the fullest extent,” said Dave Riley, Meadows general manager.

Chris Winter, attorney for the Cascade Resources Advocacy Group, who filed arguments on behalf of four appellants, said the non-profit group has not yet decided whether it will take legal action against the federal agency’s approval for the lift.

CRAG represents Friends of Mt. Hood, the Hood River Valley Residents Committee, Oregon Natural Resources Council and Northwest Environmental Defense Center. Hood River resident Carl Ohgren also filed an individual appeal.

Winter said the appellants believe the chairlift will degrade natural resources on the public land leased by Meadows from the Forest Service.

However, Riley said the new lift was designed to follow existing roads as much as possible and necessitate only one-fifth of an acre of tree clearing.

In addition, he said the lift does not lie in a flood plain or wilderness area and studies have shown that it will not have any effect on endangered species.

According to Riley, Meadows has also prepared a vegetation plan that will minimize damage to white bark pine and other high alpine plant species. That plan will be coupled with increased ski patrols and increased signage to keep recreationists on groomed trails.

Meadows said the new lift will also provide an additional 33 acres of novice terrain — reducing the accident potential from skier congestion that now exceeds recommended norms by 50 percent on busy holidays and weekends during the winter months.

He said Vista Express will have detachable chairlifts to provide easier access for skiers with disabilities.

However, CRAG argues that the history of the ski resort’s growth clearly shows that past mitigation measures to protect the mountain have not prevented erosion and other environmental damages.

To back up those allegations, he included findings from independent scientists, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and photographs by Kate McCarthy of Mt. Hood, and other members of the public.

“Past experiences have proven that lift construction causes significant environmental damage,” wrote Winter in his appeal.

“How many times does the public have to watch the same mistakes repeated before the impacts of the next construction are both controversial and uncertain?”

However, Riley believes that any legal challenge will be overturned when the plans for the new lift are presented.

“If they choose to file a suit to stop the lift at this point it is my opinion that they will not prevail.

“This lift is one of the best environmentally designed projects I’ve ever seen and it will provide even more opportunities for people to enjoy the outdoor recreation area,” Riley said.

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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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