Three new commissioners have joined the ranks of the Columbia River Gorge Commission, including one new representative from Hood River.
Gorham Blaine, fourth-generation resident of Hood River, brings a farmer’s perspective to the oversight organization charged with developing land use and natural resource policy for the National Scenic Area within the Gorge.
Blaine and his wife own and operate pear and apple orchards in both Odell and Parkdale. He will serve a four-year term.
“The Columbia Gorge has always played a prominent role in my life, from hiking and windsurfing on the river, to living in and being a part of the community. I want to participate in and help shape the continuous balancing act ... preserving the natural beauty and ecology, maintaining access and supporting a successful and sustainable business environment,” stated Blaine.
According to Darren Nichols, CRGC executive director, “the new commission appointments add a unique and valuable perspective to the impressive set of skills already on the Gorge Commission.”
Blaine was appointed to the commission as the Hood River County representative. Joining Blaine are Janet Wainwright, appointed by Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire, and Bowen Blair, appointed by Oregon’s Gov. Kitzhaber.
Blaine is stepping into the shoes of recently retired Hood River representative Joyce Reinig, who served on the commission since its inception over 25 years ago.
“I believe Joyce felt she had accomplished everything she could possibly do. She served us well,” said Ron Rivers, Hood River Board of Commissioners chairman.
“Blaine has a passion for preserving the Columbia Gorge. He is very articulate and intelligent. He will do well in representing us,” said Rivers.
The 13-member commission is comprised of one representative chosen for each of the six counties in Oregon and Washington that line the Gorge. The governors of each state also appoint three commissioners per state, with the final, non-voting seat allotted to a U.S. Forest Service representative appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture.
The commission operates as the appeals board for land use decisions tied to properties within the National Scenic Area in the event they are challenged after issuance by a county or by the commission’s executive director.
According to Nichols, the board is working to incorporate the skills and leadership of its newest members in preparation for the upcoming year, with the first scheduled meeting slated for Sept. 11 in Corbett.
“We are pleased to welcome the new commissioners and look forward to working with them to build strong regional partnerships that support our communities and protect this beautiful place we call the Gorge,” concluded Nichols.