December 3, 2005
At the very least, today’s Mount Hood “summit” in Hood River can provide a fascinating geography lesson about the 11,239-foot sentinel’s treasures:
Colorfully named places such as Bull of the Woods, Mazama/Top Spur, Elk Cove, and Roaring River, and Salmon-Huckleberry.
You can stand on any of these natural places and hear the roar of water or the silence of the high altitude.
In nature, and in the making of policy, it pays to listen.
Listening is what the summit, starting at 9 a.m. today (details on page A1) at Hood River Best Western, is all about.
U.S. Reps. Greg Walden and Earl Blumenauer will unveil their plan to blend resource protection on Mount Hood with recreational interests and economic opportunities. This is an endeavor for which they have literally taken a hike in order to better understand the many- faceted human needs, hopes, and expectations for the mountain.
About four million people visit the Mt. Hood National Forest each year, and the slopes in Oregon are the second most climbed in the world, ranking just behind Japan’s Mount Fujiyama.
With the growth of all the counties surrounding the mountain, the human influences will not go away.
One interesting aspect of the plan relates to fees: The legislators have proposed that fees collected through permits and rents on Mount Hood be retained locally to improve existing, and develop new opportunities.
This makes a great deal of sense, offering a buy-in when the time comes to increase those fees. Rather than making such increases unpalatable, the public will be more likely to get behind it, knowing the revenue will remain a local investment.
This is just one part of the plan, but it is the part that acknowledges that with greater and ever-diversifying demands on the mountain, users must accept an increase in pocketbook costs to preserve the mountain’s splendors.
The Walden-Blumenauer plan must be listened to in detail and given a chance to succeed, at least as a starting point to a comprehensive vision for the mountain.