By JAN WALLACE
Special to the News
In response to Kate McCarthy’s Sept. 24 column in Another Voice, I find it hard to believe that there was no real mention of the other three ski areas and two sledding areas in the Mt. Hood National Forest (all but one sledding area are located on the upper slopes of Mt. Hood.) I also find it extremely hard to believe that Timberline, Mt. Hood Ski Bowl, Summit Ski Area, Snow Bunny and Little John have no environmental impact on the mountain; however Mrs. McCarthy’s statements only attack the operations under the Mt. Hood Meadows umbrella.
Why is that? I have watched the articles and letters to the editor, both pro and con, over the Meadows development issue and the cons always seem to be more of a pursuit to “stop Meadows” using the facade of protecting the mountain environment.
Has anyone really taken the time to look at the revegetation that has been done by Mt. Hood Meadows? Does that count, or is it something that the opponents do not want people to know?
Does anyone think that the tourists at Mt. Hood Ski Bowl who come to use the several amusement-type rides or mountain bike or horseback ride have no impact? Yet there is never a mention of those types of activities by the other area operators. Even when the U.S.F.S. approves a Master Plan the opponents of Mt. Hood Meadows take the decision into litigation and literally stop all development while the parties involved are involved in lengthy and costly legal issues.
The Treasure — I count my blessing every day that I can look out our living room window at Mt. Hood and when the mountain is concealed by clouds, I know it is still standing tall. The mountain development has allowed thousands of people to enjoy and have an adventure they may never otherwise have.
The Spin — Heavy use on any land has its downfalls, but the use of pesticides and fertilizers on our land is much more of a concern to me. The run-off water used for irrigation, which most likely contains contaminants, from local orchards (including those who are vocal members of the Hood River Valley Residents Committee) is seldom, if ever, addressed publicly. Don’t get me wrong, I live in an orchard and deal with the sprays; it is a part of life, just like the ski and tourist industries are. I have been to a meeting regarding development on the mountain. I have heard people try to blame Meadows for auto accidents, which were caused by drunk drivers on Highway 35 traveling from Hood River to home (could not understand how that was Meadows’ responsibility for someone who was not at Meadows.) I have watched Meadows and Cooper Spur employees spend countless hours picking up trash that people toss on the ground (don’t get me wrong, I am certain Timberline, Summit and Ski Bowl have similar programs.) I have taken a look at the revegetation that Meadows has done, both at Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Area and at Cooper Spur. I can, and will, buy into the Mt. Hood Meadows’ public relations (I do not believe it is green-washing or in simple language, greedy.)
The History — Okay, so it is my understanding that back in 1965 (or was it 1964?) there was more than one group vying for the U.S.F.S. permit to develop what is now Mt. Hood Meadows. Who were the other group of citizens from Hood River County that did not get the permit?
I remember the area before and after the development started. Before the development I was attending grade school and then high school in Portland. I traveled many weekends and holidays with my parents to Mt. Hood to snowmobile, dog sled and ski at what is now Mt. Hood Meadows. Except for the addition of better parking and ski lifts the area is pretty much the same. Oh, wait, there have been water bars installed to help stop erosion and native vegetation reintroduced. We have seen bear, elk, deer, fox, cougar, eagles, hawks, and marmots and continue to see them regularly. That is the history as I remember and see it.
The Present — I was just at Cooper Spur Ski Area two weeks ago, pretty nice green grass growing! Didn’t see any damage happening. Was up at Meadows not too long ago, looked pretty good. I do believe that our earth is in need of protection. I use the Mt. Hood National Forest and the surrounding Hood River County land weekly, from the back of my horse. I share it with hikers, mountain bikers, motorcycles, ATVs, llamas, dogs, etc. I enjoy going places where someone takes care of the land and areas are not turned into areas to discard unwanted items. Just imagine what Meadows and Cooper Spur would look like if no one cared enough to keep it as pristine as possible.
There has been little said about the land previously owned by Meadows Development which bordered Mrs. McCarthy’s property and how development of employee housing was stopped. Affordable housing continues to be a problem. Nothing has also been mentioned about the support Meadows gave to develop low cost housing in Government Camp; guess that does not count.
The Cooper Spur Proposal — Yes, the snow is marginal, but people love Cooper Spur ski area. Why was there not the vocal opposition to the Master Plan for Cooper Spur years ago before the partners of Mt. Hood Meadows purchased the area? It is the only ski area where I am comfortable bringing my grandchildren, letting them go out to ski, snowboard or inner tube while I sit in the lodge and read. Additionally, I find it hard to believe that my water quality would be jeopardized; the EPA has regulations that would never allow that to happen.
Let’s face it; any expansion of any kind in the Hood River Valley is going to be opposed by someone and often times by people who are not even residents. I find humor in the monthly or bi-monthly urgency to stop any development. Thankfully Cardinal Glass was only a fleeting issue and they seem to be safe from the cycle. This month is Meadows’ turn; last month was Wal-Mart, and coming soon, the Casino. And, might I add, if you truly do not like it, don’t support it; stop skiing at Meadows and Cooper Spur, don’t take your out-of-town guest to eat the best steak around at the Pioneer Dining Room at Cooper Spur, don’t shop at Wal-Mart and for heaven’s sake, don’t go to Kah-Nee-Ta. And please quit whining.
The Threat — I do not understand the statement “The Threat — Mt. Hood Meadows’ enthusiasm for crowding more people onto our mountain...” Who is “our”? Is it me, you or people? What right do we have to consider the mountain ours? Contrary to what some believe we do not own the mountain. The Threat to me is not having partnerships like Mt. Hood Meadows, and general managers like Dave Riley and their employees who care enough to try to improve facilities, bring additional revenue to our area, provide jobs, provide recreation for locals and tourists, keep the area clean and protect the land from us the users.
In closing I would like to thank Franklin Drake, the Meadows Partners, Dave Riley and his employees for providing a quality experience for myself and my family and for all the memories we have.