Editorial: Admire the sandbar and respect it

November 9, 2011

With more grace and solemnity than was present at the sandbar's creation, the "official unofficial" naming ceremony took place on the Hood River delta Monday.

Accompanied only by his dog, Rocky, and a Hood River News photographer, Hood River City Mayor Arthur Babitz braved the cold, wet weather to make it unofficially official.

Amid a vast and empty stretch of sand on Nov. 7 at 10 a.m., five years to the date of its formation, the once-anonymous sandbar has now been named.

"The Sandbar" is the name of our Columbia River front step, courtesy of a naming opportunity organized this fall by Babitz and the Hood River News.

The moniker is not official; you might hear it referred to as "the Spit," "Columbia Beach" or other handy phrase.

But "The Sandbar" puts a capital S on what has always been the generally accepted name for the landmass that abruptly emerged after the storm five years ago.

Fittingly, Babitz's slightly tongue-in-cheek proclamation spoke more to the place and what it means to the community than to the unofficial label placed on the ever-shifting sands:

"I, Arthur Babitz, mayor of the City of Hood River, do hereby proclaim by whatever authority I might have in this situation, that this sandbar shall heretofore be known as The Sandbar. I further encourage all residents and visitors to Hood River to enjoy sports and leisure activities on The Sandbar for as long as it shall grace our waterfront."

Rocky added to the solemnity of the occasion with a bark and a woof, but remained camera-shy.

The Sandbar does change shape with the seasons and behaviors of the Hood and Columbia rivers, but it is definitely here to stay, and is a welcome piece of real estate that is there for all to enjoy.

Admire it, yes, but also respect it. The Sandbar is a manifestation of nature's power. And nature will never be done with The Sandbar.

The 2006 storm came five years after another destructive storm event that changed the flow of the river. Highway engineers, geologists, recreationists and farmers are still adjusting to the massive shifts in debris and the resulting changes to the river - and landscape from both those storms.

In the case of The Sandbar, something constructive came out of destruction. Yet it reminds us of the enduring natural forces that are beyond our control.

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