Friends of the Gorge Sue Gorge Commission
Petitioners organized by the Portland-based Friends of the Columbia Gorge, Inc. have filed an appeal with the Oregon Court of Appeals in its latest effort to thwart the Gorge Commission’s recently approved Recreation Resorts plan amendment. “I’m disappointed that the Friends of the Gorge are suing the Gorge Commission over the Plan Amendment.” Said Jason Spadaro of Broughton Lumber Company. “While I’m confident that the Gorge Commission will ultimately prevail, this lawsuit will delay redevelopment of the Broughton site, allowing this former industrial site to degrade further. Such legal action by the Friends helps neither the sensitive resources of the Gorge nor the local economy.” The Gorge Commission will defend its plan amendment before the Oregon Court of Appeals where the agency has a long history of success defending similar appeals by the Friends. However, this legal effort is expected to delay the proposed Broughton Landing project by an additional 18-24 months.
Gorge Commission Issues Final Order
On July 7, the Columbia River Gorge Commission issued its Final Order regarding Plan Amendment PA-06-01. Issuance of the Final Order initiates the 90-day time period during which time the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture must review the Plan Amendment for concurrence with the National Scenic Area Act. The 57-page Final Order documents the numerous relevant findings by the Gorge Commission’s staff including an overview of the lengthy and inclusive public review process along with findings relevant to the required standards. Specifically, the Final Order concludes that amending the Management Plan to allow development of Recreation Resorts on Commercial Recreation-zoned former industrial sites is warranted because:
- Conditions in the Scenic Area have Changed Significantly;
- The Proposed Amendment is Consistent with the Purposes and Standards of the national Scenic Area Act, and;
- No Practicable Alternative is More Consistent with the Purposes and Standards of the national Scenic Area Act.
While a major milestone in the Broughton Landing, it is only one of many early steps in a lengthy approval process. For more detailed explanation of the approval process, check-out the recently updated FAQ.
Gorge Commission Approves Recreation Resort Plan Amendment
On April 8, The Columbia River Gorge Commission voted 10-2 in favor of an amendment to the Management Plan that would allow redevelopment of a former industrial site zoned Commercial Recreation. This amendment will allow the Broughton Lumber Company to redevelop the former Broughton lumber mill site as the environmentally sustainable and economically viable resort called Broughton Landing long envisioned by its proponents.
Portland-based Friends of the Columbia River Gorge were unsuccessful in various efforts to oppose the Commission’s Plan Amendment such as proposing amendment language that would be even more restrictive than the existing Management Plan provisions. Prior to voting with the majority in favor of the Plan Amendment, Commission Chair Jeff Condit stated “The existing act is a strait jacket preventing re-use. The Friends’ proposal would replace one strait jacket with another”.
During the approval process, the Gorge Commission approved a number of clarifying motions. The most significant of these reduced allowable occupancy to 45 days continuous occupancy out of any 90-day period in order to ensure that the resort does not become a residential community. Another motion added a provision that “Recreation enhancements shall include, but are not limited to, measures that address existing site conditions and provide new or expanded facilities that are open to the public”, thereby mandating public recreation enhancements. To further ensure such enhancements, another motion required Skamania County to mandate bonding as part of project approval. The final substantive motion required an environmental assessment of the former industrial site. As Broughton Landing has always been envisioned as an environmentally sustainable commercial resort with ample public recreation enhancements, these additions should not be problematic.
The amended management Plan will succeed in addressing the Gorge Commission’s objective of preventing competition with existing Urban Areas in compliance with the Act’s second purpose, as Broughton Landing will be neither hotel nor housing. The resulting resort will be consistent with the Management Plan’s Commercial Recreation zoning, allowing an economically viable re-use of this Commercial Recreation-zoned site.
“The Gorge Commission and its staff worked very hard, and I believe ultimately succeeded in its efforts to allow improvements to this former industrial site without setting any harmful precedents and raise the standard from resource protection to enhancement” said Jason Spadaro, Manager of the Broughton Lumber Company. “While we don’t think these occupancy restrictions are needed and they will add another challenge to this project, we will figure out a way to make this important project succeed and look forward to working with Skamania County and our neighbors to develop a project that benefits the Columbia River Gorge.”
While the Plan Amendment is an important milestone for Broughton Landing, it is only one of many steps in a lengthy approval process explained here.
Gorge Commission Expected to Take Action on April 8
The Gorge Commission will once again take up the issue of the proposed recreation resort Plan Amendment PA-06-01 at the April 8 Gorge Commission meeting, beginning at 9:30 a.m. The meeting will take place at the Rock Creek Recreation Center, 710 SW Rock Creek Drive, Stevenson, Washington. According to the Gorge Commission’s meeting agenda, deliberation and legislative action on the proposed amendment will conclude by 12:00.
The remaining unresolved issue before the Gorge Commission is how to best limit resort occupancy to ensure that any commercial recreation development on former industrial sites be used as resorts rather than more permanent types of housing. The challenge is legislating manageable restrictions without over-controlling resort operations in a way that harms its economic performance. If there are changes made to the language, public testimony may be allowed, but will be limited to just those language changes.
Plan Amendment and Broughton Landing Proposals in the Press
Both the Gorge Commission’s proposed recreation resorts plan amendment and the Broughton Landing resort proposal that it would facilitate have been getting near constant media attention including news stories and letters to the editor in recent weeks. The most newsworthy event took place on March 18 when Gorge Commissioners Jim Middaugh and Honna Sheffield sent a letter to the Washington State Department of Ecology alleging environmental contamination at the Broughton site and demanding immediate action by the agency. In a subsequent press release, all three Skamania County commissioners revealed that this letter was the result of “clear collusion” between both commissioners and long-time opponents of the proposals, Friends of the Columbia River Gorge. This incident was reported by several local newspapers including the Vancouver Columbian and the Dalles Chronicle.
On Wednesday March 26, the Columbian published a column by Tom Koenninger that sharply criticized numerous development proposals within and near the National Scenic Area including Broughton Landing and a wind farm, both of which are advocated by the Broughton Lumber Company. The Koenninger column can be found here and a response by Jason Spadaro published in the March 31st edition of The Columbian can be found here.
Public Testimony Concludes at March 11 Gorge Commission Hearing
After a morning spent listening to public testimony followed by an afternoon of deliberations on several proposed adjustments to the proposed Plan Amendment, the Gorge Commission ran out of time. Although unable to vote on the proposed Plan Amendment, the Gorge Commission did reach resolution on several key provisions of the proposal including the criteria required for a plan amendment. By a vote of 10 to 2, the Commission overwhelmingly agreed that sufficient unanticipated change had occurred since the management Plans adoption to warrant a plan amendment.
Several minor modifications to the Director’s proposed Plan Amendment to further strengthen resource protections were accepted by the Commission with minimal debate. How to prevent residential occupancy of the proposed resort units proved to be the major sticking point for the Commission. Commission Chair Jeff Condit proposed inclusion of language offered by attorneys for the Friends of the Gorge who oppose the Plan Amendment that would as Jason Spadaro warned, “force the resort to become nothing more than an extended stay hotel.” Spadaro further explained how this change would undermine the economic viability of the resort and set a trap for future litigation threatened by the Friends of the Gorge.
The public testimony was more evenly split between support and opposition of the Plan Amendment than the February 12 hearing. During his allotted 3-minute presentation, Broughton Lumber Company Manager Jason Spadaro told the Commission that the proposal would set a new standard for development in the National Scenic Area by enhancing, not just protecting the scenic, natural, cultural and recreation resources. He also explained how the Broughton proposal would comply with the second purpose of the act in a meaningful way and would benefit the public through recreation trails and other recreation enhancements.
The Gorge Commission will take up the issue of occupancy restrictions at the continuation hearing later this spring. No additional public testimony will be permitted and deliberations will be limited to this last remaining unresolved issue. The Commission will hold a special meeting on March 24, 2008 at 9:00 am by telephone. The only business the Commission will conduct will be a motion to continue its hearing on the proposed recreation resort plan amendment to the Commission’s regularly scheduled meeting on April 8, 2008 at 9:00 am. Interested persons may come to the Commission’s Office in White Salmon, WA to listen to the telephone meeting. There will be no opportunity to address the Commission.
If you’d like to submit a comment electronically, go here.
CRGC director recommends approval of Management Plan amendment: Gorge Commission hearing scheduled for February 12
After years of exhaustive community workshops, public testimony, and staff analysis, a decision is expected soon from the Gorge Commission on the proposed amendment to the Management Plan to allow an economically viable redevelopment of the site of the former Broughton Lumber mill. As anticipated in our December 2007 update, the Gorge Commission staff released their Director’s Report to the Gorge Commission on January 10th. The Director’s Report recommends amending the Management Plan to allow approval of the proposed recreational resort plan amendment including the following key revisions to the original plan amendment proposal:
1. Requiring that all overnight units contain restrictions ensuring short-term occupancy to prevent residential use;
2. Increasing the average and maximum square footage allowances for individual units to provide more flexibility and marketability of resort units;
3. Increased reliance on limits to physical development rather than unit counts through elimination of a cap on the number of overnight units; and
4. Allowing a time extension of five years for screening vegetation to meet visual subordinance requirements along SR 14 as it passes through the site in recognition of existing site challenges.
While these recommended revisions will remove some of the many roadblocks needed to allow redevelopment of this derelict former industrial site, they by no means ensure that redevelopment of this challenging site will be economically viable. In addition, the proposed amendment leaves intact or strengthens many of the stringent resource protection measures that will make Broughton Landing the most tightly regulated resort development in the Northwest.
The Columbia River Gorge Commission continues to accept public comment on the director’s recommendations until the public hearing scheduled for February 12th. Supporters of the Broughton project are encouraged to voice their support for the project by emailing the Commission your letters of support and attending the February 12th hearing at the Best Western Hood River Inn in Hood River. The hearing starts at 9:00 a.m.
In December the Friends of the Columbia River Gorge released a study entitled “Feasibility Analysis of Redevelopment of the Broughton Mill Site under Present Allowable Use” prepared by ECONorthwest. As discussed in our December update, a project team of resort specialists reviewed the study. These specialists (two economists, two utility systems engineers and a planning consultant all of whom are intimately familiar with the Broughton lumber mill site and the Columbia Gorge region) found several flaws in the report’s analysis including:
1. Grossly underestimating the capital costs required for development of a RV campground (i.e. not including the cost of land, cabin construction, water utility development, wastewater treatment, among others);
2. Significantly overestimating potential revenues as compared with similar campgrounds;
3. Failing to include even basic amenities such as a day lodge, laundry facilities, restrooms, and landscaping required to make the campground competitive with comparable commercial campgrounds, and;
4. Overlooking critical safety and access features including a turn lane and pedestrian bridge over SR 14.
The full text of the project team’s review are included here.
Friends of the Columbia River Gorge Continue to Oppose the Gorge Commission
As part of its ongoing campaign opposing the Broughton Landing proposal, the Friends of the Gorge has released a bulleted list of talking points summarizing the group’s key messages and is offering free food and transportation to project opponents willing to attend the Gorge Commission’s upcoming hearing on the Plan Amendment proposal. Broughton supporters are urged to attend the public hearing scheduled for February 12th in Hood River and voice your support to the Gorge Commission for this project!
Broughton Awaits Gorge Commission Decision on Management Plan Amendment
The time since our last project update has been eventful. Autumn brought a forest fire at the project site, further deliberation by the Gorge Commission, and additional public comment regarding the Plan Amendment. The proposed Plan Amendment continued to be discussed by the Gorge Commission at meetings throughout the fall. This provided the public additional time to provide input. Project representatives spoke at several Gorge Commission meetings pointing out that to be successful, the plan amendment proposal needs to be responsive to community input and include sufficient development flexibility to allow economically viable redevelopment of former industrial sites within the National Scenic Area.
Broughton Landing is committed to honor the spirit of the Management Plan and recognizes its duty to enhance public recreation in the Gorge. The Broughton Landing project has been centered around enhancing the Gorge experience from the very initial concept through the myriad of alternatives. As stated in its vision statement, “the Broughton Landing project is envisioned to be a highly successful, world-class outdoor oriented resort that demonstrates the best of sustainable development practices while achieving financial and operational success, raising the standards of development within the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area.” However, this commitment comes at a price, as the proposed enhancements to the scenic, natural, cultural, and recreational resources such as parking for local windsurfers, public hiking trails, State Park expansion, etc. total nearly 10 million dollars. For these reasons the Management Plan amendment must contain enough development flexibility to allow a quality redevelopment of the decaying mill site.
Time hasn’t run out on your opportunity to contact the Gorge Commission with your support for the project and express the need for modifications to the Plan Amendment language. Broughton supporters are encouraged to do so here.
The project team anticipates that the Gorge Commission staff will release the Director’s Report to the Gorge Commission in early January making recommendations based on their analysis of the Plan Amendment and after careful consideration of the public comment letters received. Although a decision could be made as early as the February Gorge Commission meeting, it is likely that no decision would be made regarding the Plan Amendment until March. As previously reported, (see December 2006 update), should the Commission approve the proposed amendment, the Forest Service will have up to 90 days to review the amendment for concurrency with the National Scenic Area Act. Following Forest Service concurrence, Skamania County must amend the County Land Use ordinance to be consistent with these changes and the amendments must be approved by the Gorge Commission. The final step in the approval process will be Skamania County’s review of the project application which will include SEPA environmental review. Given the numerous variables construction would not likely occur before 2009.
Throughout the planning of Broughton Landing, project representatives have solicited public comment, both for and against the proposal in order to create the most appropriate project for a former industrial site within the Gorge. Through informal discussions, an open house, comment letters, and press articles we have assembled a list of questions we frequently received from interested members of the community. It will be refreshed regularly as the project continues.
The Broughton mill has long been a part of the Columbia River Gorge landscape. Constructed well before enactment of the Scenic Act, these prominent industrial buildings are gradually decaying. We have included a new slideshow tour of the project site to illustrate existing conditions.
As part of its ongoing opposition to the Gorge Commission’s proposed recreation resort plan amendment, the Friends of the Gorge commissioned an economic feasibility study of redevelopment of the Broughton Lumber Mill site under the Management Plan’s existing allowable uses. This study entitled “Feasibility Analysis of Redevelopment of the Broughton Mill Site Under Present Allowable Use” analyzed development of an RV campground on the site where the Broughton Lumber Company has proposed development of a recreation resort. Broughton’s representatives have carefully reviewed this study, finding a number of critical flaws that undermine the validity of the study’s findings while helping to confirm Broughton’s long-held assertion that development under the Management Plan’s existing Commercial Recreation zoning is not economically viable.
Broughton Works with State and Federal Agencies to Enhance Public Recreation
As previously reported (see March 2007 update,) project representatives have been working on enhancements to resource-based public recreation. These efforts are consistent with Broughton Landing’s special duty to enhance recreation on account of the Broughton Mill site’s existing “Commercial Recreation” zoning. Specific actions include two recent meetings with State Parks, USFWS, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Gorge Commission staff. The purpose of these working sessions was to explore potential recreation enhancements on federally-owned land adjacent to the Hatchery State Park. As a result of these collaborative efforts, State Park staff is interested in exploring the potential for expanding the park in order to increase waterfront recreation trails as well as possible launch sites for windsurfers and kiteboarders. The concept being explored would be to move the current park boundary eastward to include much of the shoreline between the fish hatchery facilities and the lagoon. If safety and administrative issues can be addressed, this would expand public access to the shores of the Columbia River by approximately one-half mile. Following inclusion within the park, a new waterfront recreation trail and launching areas financed or partially financed by Broughton Landing’s Conservation, Preservation and Recreation Fund would be built along the shoreline to connect the fish hatchery with the existing state park.
State Park staff provided data on public usage of the Hatch that showed that parking demand exceeded capacity a total of six to eight days in all of 2006, all of which occurred in July. State Park staff also provided state-wide data on windsurfing and other water activities.
Broughton Meets With Local Windsurfers
Broughton hosted a public open house for CGWA members and other local windsurfers on Wednesday May 20. Broughton Lumber Company Manager Jason Spadaro led an informal discussion focused on proposed recreation enhancements. These include:
- Protecting water quality through state-of-the art wastewater treatment technology that prevent discharge of contaminants into the river;
- Irrigation for the Hatch to keep the park green during the period of maximum
- Expanding public parking at the Hatch by about 100 new stalls connected to the Hatch with a pedestrian tunnel below SR 14;
- Solving the existing RV problem at the Hatch with new RV parking and campsites on privately-owned land nearby;
- Convenient New Services for windsurfers such as a new general store/coffee shop/pub and a small shop renting and repairing windsurfing equipment near the Hatch;
- Preventing overcrowding of the Hatch with a new, separate launch site (Broughton Beach) mid-way between the Hatch and Swell City;
- Preventing wind shadow by locating new buildings away from the river;
- Preserving Cheap Beach for public use;
- New windsurfing launch sites at the Hatchery.
Questions focused on economic and environmental concerns as well as on impacts and benefits to local windsurfing. A summary of the questions and answers will be posted on the FAQ table. (under construction)
Gorge Commission Hosts Meetings on Plan Amendment
The Gorge Commission hosted an interactive panel discussion on a possible Management Plan amendment regarding the conversion of the Broughton Mill property, the only industrial site in the National Scenic Area adjacent to a significant recreation site, to a recreation resort on May 30. The workshop mostly consisted of facilitated panel discussions about river recreation issues at Spring Creek Hatchery State Park and possible affects of resort development on neighboring communities. About 80 local residents attended the workshop and submitted numerous questions about the plan amendment as well as the proposed Broughton Landing site redevelopment. Many of these questions will be addressed on the FAQ table. (under construction) The complete proceedings of the workshop will be posted on the Gorge Commission’s website. The Gorge Commission will host a second public workshop on June 11, from 4:30-8:00 at the Pioneer Center in White Salmon.
Gorge Commission Evaluates Plan Amendment while Broughton Refines Proposal
The proposed Plan Amendment was discussed by the Gorge Commission at their February and March meetings, both of which provided opportunities for members of the public to express opposition or support. During the February meeting, the Commission requested more information from staff on background issues. In response, Commission staff presented a memo dated March 2 (see:
for this and other background information) that summarized a number of relevant policy issues. The Gorge Commission plans to hold public workshops on the Plan Amendment proposal in May in preparation for its release in July. The Plan Amendment process is depicted on the updated conceptual schedule.
Broughton continues to refine the Broughton Landing plan. Current planning efforts are focused on addressing water quality concerns, improving recreation and working with the Yakama Nation on cultural resources and fisheries issues.
Water Quality: Broughton is currently considering input from the windsurfing and environmental communities on appropriate treatment systems to treat wastewater from the proposed resort. Possible choices identified to date include the following technologies:
- Secondary Treatment with UV disinfection with seasonal discharge;
2. Secondary Treatment with UV disinfection with year-round discharge;
3. Membrane Bioreactor Treatment with UV disinfection;
4. Living Machines.
All of these options will provide superior treatment to municipal systems such as those currently employed by cities such as Hood River and Cascade Locks. Because wastewater treatment and disposal is heavily regulated by state and federal agencies, any potential water quality impacts will be reviewed and evaluated prior to approval of any master planned resort application. Stormwater impacts will be mitigated through the use of low impact development practices such as green roofs and porous pavement and detained and treated with biofiltration swales, wetlands, filter strips and other best management practices.
Recreational Enhancements: Project representatives recently met again with the Columbia Gorge Windsurfing Association (CGWA) Board to understand recreation concerns. The CGWA expressed the need for additional launching sites near the Hatch. In response, Broughton will soon be meeting with the US Fishing and Wildlife Service, State Parks, BNSF Railroad and other federal and local agencies to explore enhanced river access opportunities. Proposed recreation enhancements (for windsurfing) are summarized on an updated hand-out.
Cultural Resources and Fisheries issues: Broughton is committed to protecting cultural and natural resources and has been meeting with representatives from the Yakama Nation regarding these issues. Broughton has asked the Yakama to survey cultural resources within and around the mill site and is working with tribal fisheries staff to protect treaty fishing rights within the vicinity of the site.
Gorge Commission Considers Plan Amendment
On January 8, the Columbia River Gorge Commission voted to support a resolution directing Commission staff to consider a possible plan amendment that would facilitate recreation resorts on former industrial sites zoned “Commercial Recreation” within the scenic area. The resolution which passed by a unanimous vote, concluded several hours of public testimony and deliberations following a presentation by Commission staff on policy issues related to a proposed legislative Plan amendment. In taking this action, the Commission directed staff to consider a number if issues addressed in the staff’s December 28, 2006 memo that asked the following questions:
- With the objective of encouraging redevelopment of industrial sites on lands designated Commercial Recreation, where should recreation resort development be allowed?
2. What scenic standard should apply to recreation resorts at developed industrial sites?
3. How should the size of buildings at recreation resorts be regulated?
4. What limits to commercial uses are appropriate for recreation resorts?
5. What limits to overnight accommodations and residential uses are appropriate in recreation resorts?
6. How should the size of a recreation resort be limited?
7. Should the Management Plan require that recreation resorts be found to be compatible with the surrounding area?
The Commission’s resolution also directed the staff to consider input from the public along with suggestions from the Forest Service not to lower the scenic standard and to impose an upper limit on recreation development. Commission staff hopes to present final policy recommendations to the Commission in late winter or early spring following a series of public workshops to discuss the potential impacts, information needs and potential policy solutions related to the proposed plan amendments.
The Plan Amendment was discussed again by the planning Commission and staff at their February 13 meeting. During this meeting which also included public testimony, the Commission sought greater clarity on the policy issues and tradeoffs and benefits of the proposed amendments. The Plan Amendments will continue to remain on the Commission’s meeting agenda for future meetings and public input will continue to be received.
The Plan amendment application consisting of policy changes proposed by the Gorge Commission and site-specific mapping changes submitted by Broughton Lumber Company will be followed by a 30-day public comment period, after which time a Director’s Report will be published. A public Hearing on the proposed Plan amendment will be scheduled as part of the Plan amendment process. A conceptual diagram of the plan amendment process is posted.
Revised Master Plan
Project proponents have continued to refine the site plan and presented iteration #14 to the Advisory Committee at its most recent meeting in late September. As with past iterations, this version was created in response to concerns raised by project stakeholders. The primary issue related to proposed land use changes to the eastern end of the site. Unlike the previous site plan which proposed 13 4-plexes requiring re-designation of this area to Commercial Recreation and Recreation Intensity Class IV, this concept proposes 36 RV campsites requiring re-designation to Commercial Recreation and Recreation Intensity Class III. This lower intensity development would improve visual subordination while at the same time, provide much needed camp sites, taking the pressure off the Hatch for this use.
The other notable change is the inclusion of a pedestrian underpass below SR 14, linking the proposed resort to the Hatch. This change, made at the suggestion of the State Parks Commission and the Columbia Gorge Windsurfing Association alike would greatly improve access and safety for resort visitors and park users alike.
Plan Amendment Application
Project proponents have been working in partnership with Gorge Commission staff over the last several months in a closely coordinated effort to develop a workable Plan Amendment application. The Plan Amendment will consist of two parts: a Quasi-judicial amendment application submitted by the applicant and a legislative amendment application submitted by the Gorge Commission. The former will consist of proposed changes to Land Use, Recreation Intensity and Landscape Setting, while the latter will generally consist of policy revisions addressing the unique circumstances related to redevelopment of former industrial sites located within the Scenic Area.
Review Process and Timeline
The Gorge Commission staff expects to be ready to submit the Plan Amendment Application in early 2007. This will be followed by a public notice including a 30-day public comment period after which the Gorge Commission will have 45-60 days to issue a Director’s Report. Following publication of the Director’s Report, the Gorge Commission will conduct one or more public hearings on the Plan Amendment before action on the application, most likely in the spring of 2007. Should the Commission approve the proposed amendment, the Forest Service will have up to 90 days to review the amendment for concurrency with the National Scenic Area Act. Following Forest Service concurrence, Skamania County must amend the County Land Use ordinance to be consistent with these changes and the amendments must be approved by the Gorge Commission. The final step in the approval process will be Skamania County’s review of the project application which will include SEPA environmental review. Given the numerous variables construction would not likely occur before 2008.
Scenic Natural Cultural and Recreation Resources
Proponents have also been working to address the scenic, natural, cultural, and recreation resources as well as the second purpose of the Scenic Area Act as explained below:
- Scenic Resources: Protecting scenic resources has been a critical consideration from the beginning of the planning process, as the Broughton Mill site is visible from several designated Key Viewing Areas, especially SR-14 which bisects the site. As a result, project designers have worked with the Advisory Committee to minimize visual impacts and have coordinated these efforts with Gorge Commission and Forest Service staff to identify a methodology for evaluating scenic conditions at the site.
- Natural Resources: Abotanical survey of the site was recently completed. This survey revealed that no threatened or endangered plant species existed on the site and also identified a number of recommendations for habitat improvements. These improvements were incorporated into vegetation guidelines for the site. In addition, a preliminary review of wetlands, streams and wildlife habitat requirements has also been conducted.
- Cultural Resources: A historic survey is currently underway to determine eligibility for listing of historic resources on the National Register of Historic Places. A separate archeological and traditional cultural properties survey has also been commissioned and will be prepared by the Yakama Nation.
- Recreation Resources: Project proponents have worked closely with representatives of the local windsurfing community, including theColumbia Gorge Windsurfing Association and the State Parks Commission to evaluate potential impacts on resource-based recreation. As a result of these meetings, the proposed Resort Master Plan is being update to ensure that the proposal enhances recreation. Examples of specific improvements include the 100-stall overflow parking lot connected via an underpass to the hatch, the Broughton Beach launch site, irrigation water for the hatch, RV camp sites, and other facilities. These recreation improvements were recently acknowledged by State Parks staff.
- Second Purpose of the Scenic Act: The Gorge Commission hired a third party consultant to review the applicant’sEconomic Impact Analysis and Market Impact, Economic Summary. A summary of the economic impacts has also been distributed.
- Other Issues: In response to concerns raised by the Underwood Community Council regarding fire risk, project proponents have been working closely with the County Fire Marshall, DNR, and theUnderwood Fire District to address these concerns. One result of these efforts are new project-specific Fire Protection Guidelines to proactively address fire risk at the re-developed former mill site.
In addition to numerous working sessions with the Gorge Commission staff, project proponents have participated in an ongoing dialogue with Friends of the Gorge staff in an ongoing attempt to negotiate a mutually satisfactory position. During the last several months they have also met with numerous stakeholders and other interested parties on at least 20 separate occasions to share information on the project and solicit public input and build support for the project. Response from stakeholders and regulators such as the Columbia Gorge Windsurfing Association, various local, state and federal agencies, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad, port districts, Chambers of Commerce, local community councils, and others has generally been favorable. In fact, most of these groups have written letters supporting the project.
So far the project proponents have received letters of support from a broad range of interests including the following. Copies of all of these letters are posted on this website:
• Skamania County
• City of Stevenson
• Skamania County Economic Development Council
• Skamania County Chamber of Commerce
• J&L Farm and Home, Columbia River Gorge Visitors Association
• Klickitat Tourism Advisory Board
• Columbia Gorge Windsurfing Association
• Washington State Parks Commission
• Washington State Parks staff
• City of North Bonneville
• Klickitat County
• Stevenson Business Association
• Port of Skamania, Skamania Lodge
• State of Washington Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development
• Mt. Adams Chamber of Commerce
• Underwood Fire District 3
• Port Of Cascade Locks