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Letters Aug. 9/Aug. 13

Climb ‘claims’

I found your July 30 article on Dan Howitt and his mountaineering claims to be quite interesting. As a personal friend who has climbed with Steve Boyer, I feel his record deserves to be clarified. Mr. Howitt states that “it’s hard to know what to believe” about Boyer’s climbing records. Boyer has always been forthright about the technical differences between his and Leech’s climbs on the lower half of the mountain and the difficulty making exact comparisons, and they are both record holders in their own right. Boyer’s climbing records are not based on “hearsay,” but on the fact that every climber who has ever seen him climb, believes his reported times.

In contrast, Mr. Howitt last year was widely quoted as claiming to have summited Mt. Rainier round trip in 3 hours and 56 minutes. This claim was widely questioned in the mountaineering community because it beat the previous record by an unbelievable one hour and 8 minutes. Mr. Howitt’s well documented climb of Mt. Hood was 4:47, which was 7,400 feet vertical round trip to an elevation of 11,200 feet. This is in curious contrast to his claim of 3:56 on Mt. Rainier which is 9,000 feet vertical round trip to an altitude of 14,400 feet and on a technically more complex route. The Hood time would seem to refute rather than support the previous claims. For more information and facts on the controversy surrounding Mr. Howitt’s claims, check out www.cascadeclimbers.com and search for Dan Howitt. Incidentally, his claim to be the only speed climber in the Northwest ignores the fact that Chad Kellog just won the international race on Khan Tengri.

Brent Russell

Hood River

Basic maintenance

I read yet another discussion on “realistic” waterfront development, simultaneous with letters regarding user fees, public input, and the term “open space.” There are valid points made in each of the three letters as well as Dave Harlan’s discussion on financial impact.

While David Dorocke accurately describes the port’s “50 percent open space” description as misleading — the percentage of “park space” described in Port meetings is considerably less — I’d like to address the issue of fees and maintenance costs.

At the beginning of summer the Port voted to raise the “annual over-length parking pass” fee at the Event Site to $100 from $50. I’ve gone to the Event Site for years as a year-round resident and notice a decline in fundamental service there. The folks who make the annual pilgrimage to windsurf and recreate here — and there are many — have a positive economic impact on our community. While they don’t all vote or pay the hefty property taxes other downtown residents and myself pay, they buy their groceries and goods and services here and traverse the bridge frequently. In return, the Port has doubled their parking fee, repainted some white lines in the parking lot, and busied themselves with visions of Bend-like commercial growth, hoping to compete with Bingen and vacant downtown office space to attract more local startup companies.

After paying my annual Event Site fee in late May (in addition to several other passes I need to recreate in the Gorge) I had to wait until the 4th of July to get running water to rinse off. The other day I washed my hands after using the toilet and there was no soap — not even a dispenser — in the restroom. This is not only a health hazard but possibly a state health violation. Also, the Event Site lacks a drinking fountain of either child or adult height.

Several RVer’s mentioned that they’ve spoken with the Port about this repeatedly, and I know for a fact the Port has a maintenance crew because I frequently see their vehicles driving around the downtown areas.

So with all the “open space” on the waterfront, could there be a portion set aside as an RV park? The Bridge Park in Bingen runs as a profitable business; would the popularity here be greater? Would it help pay for the $74,000 per acre Mr. Harlan claims is necessary for watering the lawn, emptying the trash, and collecting the rising parking fees? It seems it would provide the additional jobs that Dave seeks to bring to the area while negating the high buildings and condos that the citizens oppose.

Pete MacKay

Hood River

Support Episcopal

This week, the U.S. Episcopal Church voted to confirm its first gay bishop. I celebrate this positive step towards making ours a civilized society. Accepting others and refusing to pick on people — especially a minority shunned by many — is simply decent behavior. I’ve heard detractors warn about breaking up the “Anglican communion.” On the contrary, I believe many will now reconsider the Episcopal church as a possible spiritual home based on this landmark action.

I suggest we show our support for the Episcopalians; let’s all send a donation to our local Episcopal church. Though I do not attend or belong to that church, I have sent them money to voice my support for their group’s courageous and admirable action.

Paul Blackburn

Hood River

Traffic jam

A letter to the editor from Holly Griswold (Aug. 6) suggested a challenge to Wal-Mart to construct a big-box that is a “visual asset” to Hood River. Now that would be a challenge — to make a 185,000-square-foot retail building fit into a rural setting. With a little imagination, a little paint, why we’d hardly know it was there. Oh yes, let’s not forget the 12-acre parking lot, with perhaps 10,000 or more cars and trucks entering, and 10,000 cars and trucks leaving.

Now, back to reality. Wal-Mart proposes to haul in 60,000 yards of fill to bring the site up above flood level. That would be 6,000 dump truck loads all passing through the Country Club intersection. That’s about 100 trucks each and every day for about three and a half months, counting the returning empties, or one truck every 7.5 minutes.

Maybe you think that you’re immune from this traffic because you live elsewhere in Hood River. Well, not so. Let’s say they would get the fill from the pit on the east side of town. Now we have the same 100 trucks per day passing through the intersection of Highway 35 and State. Have you noticed the traffic already piling up to cross the bridge in the late afternoons? Well, it will get a lot worse.

Oh well, this part of the construction would only last three and a half months. Of course, traffic on May, Belmont, and other streets in the city and county would be affected permanently by the proposed relocation of Country Club Road, which the state plans to resurface this fall at a cost of $984,000 of your tax money, before any construction of the big box would even start.

A rural setting suddenly becoming a huge unsightly construction site should not be part of the county’s compatibility plan. Make your views known to the County Commission. Conformity to the compatibility plan is far more wide-ranging than the simple-minded facade that Wal-Mart proposes.

One more point: Wal-Mart’s huge box is not “inevitable” at all. In fact, plenty of communities have shot down their plans for many reasons. It’s the people here in Hood River who will make the difference by making submissions to the county Planning Commission, pointing out how Wal-Mart’s proposal violates traffic, compatibility and flood-plain issues. Take the time to study this ridiculous proposal and make your views known.

J.P. Harrison

Hood River

Click it!

Seatbelts. A simple device added to a car for your driving pleasure? No, for your safety. They can be uncomfortable and easily forgotten about if you are preoccupied with something else. It is the law. Click it or ticket!

I recently received a summons for driving without my seatbelt. I wasn’t thinking and only driving for a short distance — a mile up the road to my next shopping pleasure. Municipal court was not my shop du jour. Anyway we should all be more aware of clicking in.

Last summer we lost a friend when he was ejected out of his SUV after falling asleep at the wheel on a freeway in Utah. The vehicle rolled over him and if his seatbelt had been on he would be with his wife and five kids today.

You never know when an accident can happen, so why take a chance? Buckle up. We only have one life to live — and it’s a good life.

Andrea Nass

White Salmon

Preserve ‘Tilly’

A copy of this letter was sent to United States Forest Service staff:

I am opposed to the summer activities recently allowed at Cooper Spur Ski Area. I am submitting these comments to you so that you will log my concerns in your public opinion records by the Aug. 11, 2003, deadline.

As you know, the Forest Service is required to consider the effects of its actions on historic resources before funding, licensing, or otherwise proceeding with projects that may affect historic resources listed in, or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. The Tilly Jane Ski Trail No. 643 has been nominated for listing, and the USFS has a fiduciary responsibility to protect it from inappropriate use such as mountain biking, commercialism and noise. Further, the Mt. Hood National Forest Web site lists both the Tilly Jane Ski Trail and Polallie Ridge trail as trails not approved for mountain biking uses.

In the past, Mount Hood Meadows has attempted to get permission for mountain biking. It was denied permission due to concerns over environmental degradation and detriment to wildlife.

I love the Tilly Jane Ski Trail No. 643. The first time I ever skied it all the way to Cloud Cap was when I was 10 years old, in 1973. I have enjoyed quietly hiking it for decades. It is a historic and wild area that must remain pristine; it is thoroughly inappropriate for mountain bike use. The 1983 Master plan does not allow mountain biking anywhere within the 50 acres, nor anywhere else within the 1,350 acres currently in the permit.

As you also know, the Department of Fish and Wildlife determined that the Cooper Spur area is a major wildlife corridor for sensitive big game in 1997. A copy of the 1997 ODFW letter by Biologist Keith Kohl to Senior Planner Jeff Hunt at the County Planning Department is included in this e-mail. It is also on record at the courthouse as part of Donald Cherrington’s written, oral and public testimony to the County Commissioners on Feb. 5, 2003, during the Goal 8 Public Hearings.

Noise levels and other commercial impact in the area will affect elk migrations and calving in that area. Concerts and loud music need to be prohibited, and the wilderness areas surrounding the ski area need to be fully protected from all commercial use in the summer time. Further, the 1983 Master Plan does not allow such summer time commercial use and noise.

The USFS has a responsibility to preserve the Cooper Spur area for low-impact users. The USFS also has a responsibility to protect sensitive big game in that area from noise, machinery, summertime chairlift use, music, mountain biking, and other inappropriate activity. Mountain biking and noisy commercial summertime use is not allowed in the 1983 Master Plan.

Maren Euwer

Parkdale

An eye opener

What an eye opener! Thanks to Hood River Transfer Station for their great recycling newsletter article titled, “There’s no Such Place as Away.” It certainly has made me more conscientious! If you missed it, it’s definitely worth tracking down.

Samantha Irwin

Hood River

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