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Locals should decide fate of Mt. Hood’s north side

Another Voice

By RICHELLE DUCKWALL

I am writing in response to Heather Weinstein’s letter to the editor in the Oct. 5 issue of the Hood River News. This is my vision I forwarded to her Web site:

My vision would be for the north side of Mt. Hood to remain wild and free with clean drinking water for us Parkdalites. I was born and raised in Hood River. I have seen many changes take place on the mountain. When I was in elementary school my parents and I were unpleasantly surprised after hiking into Umbrella Falls to see bulldozers blazing a road. We thought it was only accessible by trail. Not only had man entered the forest but so had Mt. Hood Meadows. Trying to experience pristine wilderness, we’d walked smack back into civilization.

We’d started our little trek from the old Hood River Meadows campground, a primitive but peaceful spot tucked beside lovely Hood River Meadows. I can’t visit those places anymore; only in my dreams and memories. You see, Mt. Hood Meadows won that land in some sort of swap and destroyed all for the skiers with money.

In my earlier days, I hiked practically weekly with my mother Venette Duckwall, Lois Talbot (a local watercolor artist), and Mary Lou Bellus. We called ourselves the IHC — Idiot Hiking Club — because we would hike rain, snow, sleet, hail or sun. We hiked that mountain, many mornings being at timberline by sunrise so Lois could capture on film the clouds and the shadows in the best of lighting. She would then paint from her photos. We hiked all over the current Mt. Hood Meadows site. What started as a small operation has grown to acres and acres, ridges to ridges.

Now one can hike for hours without getting out of its clear-cut, weather-ravished slopes. The lush vegetation has changed ... the monkey flowers and lupine and daisies ... gone to coarse, thick-bladed, drought-resistant varieties. I can’t visit those places anymore, only in my dreams and memories. It is no fun to hike that part of the mountain anymore.

Now Mt. Hood Meadows has acquired Cooper Spur area. I am so sick of their vision for my north side of the mountain ... our north side of the mountain. I think we natives and transplants who live, play and work in the great shadow of this, our mountain, we the people should decide its fate. I think the vision for Mt. Hood should be made by the thousands of citizens, not the millions of dollars to be made by a private corporation. Don’t let money outweigh popular consensus.

Oregon prides itself in public beaches. Why should our mountains be treated any differently? Mt. Hood needs to retain some quiet and wild places. Cooper Spur works fine small, quaint and rustic.

My vision for Mt. Hood is no more development. I want to be able to hike my old haunts not only in my dreams and memories. I want to be able to hike there tomorrow if I choose, and know that it will be exactly, just exactly as I left it yesterday.

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Richelle (Ricki) Duckwall lives in Mt. Hood.

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