September 28, 2005
What is Rep. David Wu’s enduring interest in the Columbia Gorge, an area not part of the First Congressional District’s district?
Wu, a Hillsdale Democrat, sent his second letter of 2005 to Secretary of the Interior Gail Norton last week expressing his opposition to a gaming facility in the Columbia River Gorge. Norton will make the final decision on the proposal, expected next summer.
Wu’s letter states that a casino complex like the one proposed by the Warm Springs tribe would have “a significant negative effect on its environment by increasing traffic, highway congestion, and air pollution.”
Wu’s comments would suggest that traffic out of Portland breezes right down Highway 99 and out Highway 18 to the Spirit Mountain Casino in Grand Ronde, all part of Wu’s district.
Of course, the traffic does not do this. Nor are the cars heading for the Yamhill County wine country, the Coast Range, and the Oregon Coast specifically equipped with fume-free filters.
The point is, people will come to the Gorge, and they will drive cars. Yes, a casino will bring more cars. It is one of many surmountable challenges that come with a casino or any other economic development idea, in any area. As stated in this space before, the Tribe should be encouraged to pursue mass transit alternatives, and the Tribe is, in fact, planning such options for getting people to their casino, should it be built.
On the issue as a whole, David Wu has said enough. It is his right to speak on the matter, but he should turn his attention to issues in his district and leave this decision to other legislators and the citizens of the Gorge.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) held open houses in Cascade Locks, Stevenson, and Hood River for oral comments on the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs proposal for a 500,000 square foot gaming center in the Cascade Locks industrial park.
Written remarks about the potential impacts and available alternatives will be accepted until Oct. 15.
Correspondence may be mailed to: June Boynton, BIA, 911 N.E. 11th Ave., Portland, OR 97232 or faxed to (503) 231-2201.