Gorge commission continues review

The Columbia Gorge Commission continues its series of Gorge management plan review meetings, with a scenic resource review scheduled for 4 to 7 p.m. on Monday at Skamania County Courthouse Annex.

The commission will discuss scenic standards as they relate to "key viewing areas" in the main agenda item for the Scenic Resources Committee. In an earlier meeting, the committee agreed that the current management plan system is working to protect scenic resources, but that implementation guidelines need some fine-tuning, according to Brian Litt, commission senior planner.

Congress requires review of the scenic area plan every 10 years to see how it is achieving the main purposes of the 1986 scenic act -- protection of gorge resources and promotion of economic development in urban areas. Commission staff will recommend that commissioners narrow the list, focusing on 26 land uses. The public will have an opportunity to comment before the commission makes a decision.

Some of the land uses to be recommended by staff for consideration include churches, events at bed-breakfast inns, cluster developments, commercial development in special management areas, fish-processing facilities, lot-line adjustments, replacement structures and temporary uses. Uses not recommended for change include cemeteries, clean energy production, docks, geologic hazards, and mining. "Most of the land uses we've recommended not to consider further did not meet evaluation criteria approved earlier in the plan review process by the Gorge Commission," said Allen Bell, a senior planner with the commission. "These issues, for the most part, haven't been the subject of many appeals, haven't presented many implementation problems, and are not a priority with gorge counties, tribes, other partner agencies or the public," he said. An exception to this is mining, according to commission staff. "More than 200 people submitted comments stating mining threatens scenic vistas, wildlife and plant habitat, water resources and other sensitive resources," Bell said. "But the guidelines in the management plant that regulate mining are rigorous and consistent with the purposes and standards of the National Scenic Act." After the Commission decides which land uses to consider in plan review, a technical advisory committee will begin exploring alternatives to those uses. Public comment will be heard on these options at open meetings.

For more information on plan review and to access related documents, visit www.gorgecommission.org or call 509-493-3323.

-- The Dalles Chronicle

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