‘Support the great outdoors,’ recreation advocates ask of Merkley

U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley’s chief of staff, Michael Zamore (far right), listens to Big Winds owner Steve Gates (far left) during a conversation about how to ensure the continued success of recreation in the state of Oregon. Paddleboarder Fiona Wylde and Northwest Rafting Company owner Zachary Collier also listen to the conversation.

Photo by Ben Mitchell.
U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley’s chief of staff, Michael Zamore (far right), listens to Big Winds owner Steve Gates (far left) during a conversation about how to ensure the continued success of recreation in the state of Oregon. Paddleboarder Fiona Wylde and Northwest Rafting Company owner Zachary Collier also listen to the conversation.

The recreation industry may be thriving in Hood River, but local business owners aren’t taking their current prosperity for granted.

Last week, a consortium of local business owners and recreation stakeholders held a meeting with staffers from U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley’s office to raise concerns about issues affecting recreation in Oregon and to ask for the senator’s support.

Approximately a dozen people braved the rainy and smoky weather Thursday afternoon to welcome Merkley’s chief of staff, Michael Zamore, and Susanna Julber, field representative, to a meeting down at the Sandbar Café.

The meeting, which was put on by Erin Brosterhous of Inside Out PR and Susan Dow, owner of the Sandbar Café, was held down by the waterfront to show Zamore and Julber the popularity of recreation in Hood River. Even with the pall cast by smoke from the Government Flats Complex of wildfires burning southwest of The Dalles, the waterfront was still teeming with standup paddleboarders and people out for a stroll on the sandbar.

In a roundtable discussion, business owners representing a diverse range of industries — everything from clothing, to lodging, to whitewater rafting — all agreed that legislation protecting the environment was key in ensuring that Hood River’s recreation industry would continue to thrive.

“Things like air quality, trail quality and water quality all affect our businesses,” said Ann Frodel, owner of the Gorge View Bed & Breakfast and a member of the Hood River Visitor Council. “Things that attract people here are the things we need to protect.”

Steve Gates, owner of Big Winds, a board shop located in downtown Hood River, said Merkley’s support of legislation that promotes recreation would in turn support other non-recreation-based businesses in the Gorge.

“The businesses that are moving here aren’t necessarily recreation-based, but they’re coming here because of the recreation,” he explained. “When these resources are under attack, we hope you guys will give us the support that we need.”

In particular, Gates expressed concerns over possible increases in coal train traffic in the Gorge, which he called “a very shortsighted solution to a very questionable goal.”

Kurt Buddendeck, owner of Discover Bicycles, stressed the need for affordable housing as the population of Hood River continues to grow.

“There is a whole service sector to support these businesses,” he said. “Where are they going to live?”

Zamore agreed and explained that showing the direct connection between protecting the environment and protecting business would curry wider favor amongst Capitol Hill politicians.

“We don’t win any arguments if we just say, ‘Polar bears are cute,’” he noted.

At the conclusion of the meeting a letter addressed to Sen. Merkley and signed by 28 representatives of local business was distributed to the staffers, asking the senator to “support continued investment in America’s great outdoors” and “reject any efforts to weaken protections from national parks, forests, monuments and other public lands and waterways.”

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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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