Wednesday, August 9, 2017
Is Westside Plan safe?
The Westside Concept Plan may not have adequately addressed wildfire risk or included effective mitigation measures such as access and egress for traffic out of a danger zone.
The intersection of Wine Country and Cascade is one of the most congested points in Hood River County. The current concept plan shows increased traffic loads being funneled to this gore point, likely including truck and trailer traffic from the Industrial area at the west end. Although the concept plan includes intersection options to improve traffic flow, it’s unclear that these will be adequate in a fire event. The HRC 2006 Community Wildfire Protection Plan describes the area from Reed Road to the Columbia River as High Priority: “With seasonal drying and heavily forested lands, the potential for an intense fast moving fire on the Westside exists when mixed with an unstable air mass and the high winds for which the Columbia River Gorge is known.”
Wind driven fires represent a scenario that responding fire apparatus and personnel may not be able to resolve in a timely manner. Structures within close proximity to each other are at greater risk due to the lack of defensible space and their tendency to generate and transfer heat to adjacent buildings. A good portion of the west side acreage is sloped, which can aid fire spread under certain conditions. The report notes that “it is difficult to predict the possible loss of life in a wildfire; it is only possible to enhance features such as access and egress to permit the flow of traffic out of a danger zone.”
Will the Westside development include a new fire station? Will the area have defensible green belts and parks? Will planned access and egress enable the forecasted population of residents and tourists to move quickly to freeway and other zones of safety in the event of a wind driven fire? Will there be sufficient space between housing clusters, not clogged with automobiles, to enable access and fire suppression?
Has the fire department offered comments or recommendations about the Westside Concept Plan?
Coal train assault
Friday, July 28, was another perfect summer day in the Gorge. Early that morning, I drove from Stevenson to Hood River on Washington’s Highway 14.
The sky was blue. The wind whipped up whitecaps on the river. The scenery was beautiful. It was business as usual in the jewel we call home.
A railroad train of nondescript cars heading westbound approached me.
As we passed, there was a hail storm of coal dust. Little pellets slammed like ice particles against my windshield. The assault continued until the train was gone.
I contemplated the fundamental unfairness. If a citizen throws trash from a car, an activity which should not be condoned, that person is subject to being stopped, cited and fined. Why is similar activity by a railroad company lawful?
Coal trains dumping their trash here or anywhere is environmentally immoral and repugnant. It needs to stop.
Many voices of complaint have been raised against this injustice.
Include mine in that chorus.
I just want to write and say Hood River has many wonderful people who rush to help someone with a problem. Saturday evening, we were leaving Riverside Grill and I was going for the car. I failed to see the last step down at the curb and fell on my face.
Within 15 seconds, complete strangers were by my side helping me up and working to stop bleeding. I was blown away with the kindness and concern they all exhibited. Thank you so much to all you wonderful and caring folks.
Wolf killing unacceptable
The recent decision to kill two wolves from the Harl Butte pack only little more than a year after the entire Imnaha pack was killed in the same area in eastern Oregon is unacceptable. The Oregon Wolf Conservation and Management Plan requires that non-lethal tools have been employed and exhausted before even considering wolf executions. This document is supposed to be updated every five years and is pushing three years out of date. Since wolf executions are funded by the taxpayer, at a minimum disclosure should be forthcoming with regard to accountability and transparency on the part of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. No such disclosures are apparent.
Furthermore, it turns out that ranchers are compensated in full for cattle losses and according to a recent OPB report, some cases apparently being compensated even when it is NOT confirmed that a loss was due to a wolf. If the rancher has been compensated for the loss, why does the wolf get a death sentence? Cattle displace their natural prey, elk and deer. Killing a native species to protect an invasive species is unacceptable. Humans have to learn how to live with and accept coexistence with other species and take necessary precautions and measures to protect their interests without “killing the supposed problem.” Contact Governor Kate Brown (503-378-4582) to voice concern and demand that the Wolf Conservation plan is updated and that increased transparency and accountability are enhanced.
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The secret agents of Big Winds may not exactly be Tommy Lee Jones oand Will Smith, but they still discovered there is plenty of strangeness to be found in Hood River...especially once winter sets in. Enlarge