Access will return to lower Hood River

January 11, 2012

Access to the lower Hood River via the former Powerdale substation and powerhouse will soon be reopened to the public for the indefinite future.

Over the last few months, and intermittently for the last two years, river access from the powerhouse (off Highway 35 just outside downtown Hood River) has been restricted due to projects related to the decommissioning of Powerdale Dam. But with a February timeline for finishing project work and a March date for a land transfer, the popular access point for fishing, hiking, dog walking and beach-going on the scenic section of river will be in the hands of Hood River County, which is intent on keeping it open to the public.

Most recently, crews hired by PacifiCorp have been working to dismantle and remove substation equipment that served as a relay terminal to feed electricity generated by the project into the regional power grid. In removing the equipment, crews tested soil and found some to have minor PCB contamination.

"Before 1976, oil used in transformers had PCB's in it," said Tom Gauntt PacifiCorp spokesman. "Some soil tested under the transformers was contaminated at a level of about .22 parts per million. That level isn't something that would warrant "required action", but since the land going to be handed over to the public, we decided to air on the side of caution. We want to be able to say we've done everything we could do."

Gauntt said crews removed a depth of two feet of soil in the contaminated area under the transformers.

Although PacifiCorp removed transformers and electrical equipment, the powerhouse structure will not be removed. The building, along with nearly 100 acres of land will be transferred to Hood River County as part of a multi-agency land transfer set to take place in March. At the lower site, the county will get about 65 acres of land upstream from the powerhouse and at the former Powerdale Dam site, the county will get about 33 acres from the former parking area downstream.

In all, PacifiCorp will transfer about 400 acres of land running on both sides of the river between the former dam and the powerhouse a few miles downriver. The narrow strip of land surrounding the river, called the Powerdale Lands Corridor, will be signed over to three groups: Columbia Land Trust will take ownership of the bulk of the land, with Hood River County and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife taking the rest.

"Once the transfer takes place, our whole goal is to keep public access," said Dean Guess, HRC Public Works director. "At the powerhouse site, that means once project work is done and the land is signed over, it will be open for public access. As far as the building; there's been some talk, but we're really not sure what to do with it. It's an odd structure that was designed for a very specific use."

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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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