Broughton probe request angers leaders

Skamania County commissioners Thursday denounced two members of the Columbia River Gorge Commission for requesting a state investigation of possible industrial contamination at the Broughton mill property, site of a proposed destination resort in the gorge.

Friday, March 21, 2008
By KATHIE DURBIN, Columbian Staff Writer

Gorge commissioners Jim Middaugh of Portland and Honna Sheffield of Skamania, who signed a letter to Department of Ecology chief Jeff Manning, “are attempting to derail the ongoing legislative process of the Gorge Commission on the Broughton Landing plan amendment,” the county commissioners said in a statement. Skamania County favors development of the resort near Underwood, close to the county’s eastern border.

The press release, signed by all three county commissioners, calls on the full gorge commission to “censor” Middaugh and Sheffield and remove them from further participation in the panel’s decision about whether to allow a large destination resort on the site of the abandoned mill.

It also calls for “the immediate dismissal of these commissioners by their appointing authorities.” Middaugh was appointed to the gorge commission by Multnomah County commissioners; Sheffield was appointed by Gov.  Chris Gregoire.

“This is a blatant attempt to derail a lengthy public legislative process through the use of administrative enforcement action, especially when these Commissioners use their official capacity to make demands,” the Skamania County commissioners wrote.

They also accused the two gorge commissioners of “clear collusion” with the advocacy group Friends of the Gorge, which helped draft the March 18 letter asking for a state investigation.

The gorge commission is scheduled to take action on the Broughton Landing proposal at its April 8 meeting.

Middaugh said Wednesday that his intention was not to delay the process. He said he wants more complete information about potential contamination of the site before he votes on whether to amend the management plan for the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area to allow the development to proceed.