Cooper Spur Coalition spars with Mt. Hood Meadows

Mt. Hood Meadows, Ltd., wants to hire a professional mediator to resolve long-standing differences with the Hood River Valley Residents Committee.

“A successful collaborative dispute resolution process is a win-win for all parties,” said Dave Riley, Meadows general manager.

However, Mike McCarthy, HRVRC member, said the group has asked Riley to put Meadows’ development plans on the table and explain the company’s “vision” for the mountain before they will accept that offer.

“We would be very interested in proceeding ahead then,” said McCarthy.

Since Riley’s offer in June the HRVRC has been instrumental in forming the Cooper Spur Wild and Free Coalition. The new CSWFC is comprised of representatives from environmental and recreation organizations and dedicated to blocking any development that would “destroy the last remaining wilderness area” on Mt. Hood.

“They need to remember that Cooper Spur Mountain Resort includes 775 acres of private land, and they cannot confuse that with the public land,” said Riley. “They are continually misstating that our permit area and private land is a wilderness, when that classification has not been given to either of those properties.”

The formation of the new land-use watchdog group parallels Meadows’ formal request in July that the county map sites eligible for a destination resort within its borders. The review, expected to be completed within the next two months, will determine whether all or part of Meadows private land in the vicinity of Cooper Spur meets the state criteria for the development.

Also included on the CSWFC steering committee are representatives from: Friends of Mt. Hood, Mazamas, Oregon Nordic Club, Sierra Club, Oregon Natural Resources Council, Oregon Wildlife Federation, and the Northwest Environmental Defense Center, Friends of Tilly Jane, and BARK (a network of volunteers dedicated to protecting Oregon’s public forests).

“The HRVRC has opposed everything we’ve done for decades, a cost of time, energy and goodwill for everyone,” said Riley.

The HRVRC was established in 1977 to protect farm and forestlands within the county. It successfully led the battle against a previous Meadows’ proposal for a destination resort in the early 80s.

As Meadows’ lays the groundwork for another development proposal, Riley would like to establish a process to:

Improve relations between the two groups.

Establish long-term certainty about development size and scale at Meadows, the private property surrounding the Inn at Cooper Spur related to that ski area.

Jointly gain better control of respective interests on and around Mt. Hood.

As one option for guiding the proposed dispute resolution process, Riley suggested that the HRVRC consider guidelines in a text produced by the state of Oregon, “Collaborative Approaches: A Handbook for Public Policy Decision-Making and Conflict Resolution.”

“Talking things out, sharing information and reaching agreements is the responsible approach to problem solving,” he said.

Riley said the mediation process could also address HRVRC’s publicly stated concerns about the dimensions of the project and its effect on the environment.

He said shared information “creates long-term certainty as to the types of uses and limits of development.”

In a published position statement, the CSWFC opposes expansion or construction of commercial enterprises on the mountain, favoring natural recreation opportunities.

“Specifically, we believe wide sectors of the public should benefit from public property, and that Mt. Hood should be noncommercial wherever possible,” outlines the non-profit group.

Riley agrees that the public should benefit from outdoor activities on the mountain but said the U.S. Forest Service reiterated this week the importance of private/public partnerships. He said the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Ski Areas Association clearly outlines the logic behind having private businesses manage and develop ski areas and not have taxpayers incur that expense.

“Last year our two ski areas hosted over 413,000 people who came to enjoy their National Forest — which means we obviously have a large number of people who want the services we are providing on the public land,” said Riley.

To ensure that public use did not adversely affect the natural resources on Mt. Hood, Riley said Meadows invited the HRVRC to participate in discussions this summer about how the company could support ecologic, economic and social sustainability as a member of the Oregon Natural Step Network. But McCarthy said the HRVRC does not want to become involved in that process until they are reassured that it is not just a public relations ploy.

“The first thing we want to do is to see if there is any substance to the program before we get involved,” McCarthy said.

Riley said McCarthy and the HRVRC do not seem to understand that mediation is not about controlling discussions but about working out a plan that is acceptable to all parties.

“I’m terribly disappointed that they are not willing to put their positions aside so we can explore mutually acceptable alternatives. That’s what problem solving is all about — this makes me think they don’t really want to solve the dispute,” he 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 www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge



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