Gorge Commission begins air quality study

The Columbia River Gorge Commission approved a revised work plan for studying Air Quality in the Gorge last week. This approval kicks off a two-year study of the composition and sources of air pollution in the Gorge, according to a Commission press release.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the Southwest Washington Clean Air Agency (SWCAA) presented the new work plan, which was revised because the Washington Department of Ecology’s visibility programs were eliminated as part of Washington’s 2003-2005 budget. The federal funding available for the study is also smaller than originally intended, although several other projects underway in the Northwest will assist in studying Gorge Air Quality.

“The revised work plan makes very efficient use of limited dollars and staff,” said Martha Bennett, Executive Director. “It leverages other studies, and it is focused on defining what pollutants are in the air and where they come from.”

The study will begin by collecting information about Gorge air at several monitoring stations throughout the National Scenic Area in the upcoming winter and summer. The revised work plan also includes a computer model that will project how air quality in the Gorge is affected by changes. For example, the model will project how new programs for low sulfur diesel fuel will change the conditions in the Gorge.

As part of their approval, the Commission asked that DEQ and SWCAA report on how they will use the results of the air quality study to develop a regional air quality strategy in their annual report to the Gorge Commission in August 2004.

In other action, the Columbia River Gorge Commission formally decided to conclude its Plan Review project and begin the process of adopting a revised Management Plan. The Commission decided to complete work on three land use topics (defining repair and maintenance, expanding the list of uses allowed without a permit, and creating a streamlined permitting process for certain land uses) and two scenic resource topics with other state agencies, including regulations for fuel break and scenic protection regulations in forest zones, and conflicts between Washington State and Scenic Area rules for mining.

“Although there are many issues we had planned to work on,” said Bennett, “the Commission had to respond to a 15 percent cut in our 2003-2005 budget. We do not have the staff to complete the entire plan review project. Additionally, the Commission wants to make sure that the important changes we have made so far get implemented quickly. That happens only once we’ve adopted the revised plan and counties respond by changing their land use ordinances.”

Some of the issues that won’t be considered because of this decision include regulations that deal with new cultivation, the income levels required for new houses in agricultural zones, and updating the Management Plan’s recreation development plan. A complete list of issues can be found on the Commission’s Website at: www.gorgecommission.org.


The Columbia River Gorge Commission formally recognized outgoing Commissioner Donald Dunn who served as the representative from Wasco County for eight years, and welcomed Judy Davis of Rowena as its new representative from Wasco County on Tuesday. Davis has a PhD in Urban Studies from Portland State University and experience on the Planning Commission for Cowlitz County. Davis has also been active in the Commission’s plan review project, attending many issues dealing with how the Management Plan protects Gorge scenery.

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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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