Legislature approves planning grant for Scenic Area

The Oregon legislature provided an end-of-session boost to the future of Gorge communities and the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. In a move that highlights Oregon’s bipartisan support for the Columbia River Gorge, the joint ways and means budget included an additional $80,000 investment for the continuation of work on urban planning issues in the Oregon portion of the National Scenic Area.

“The late-session funding decision came after Washington was unable to match Oregon’s budget for the Columbia River Gorge Commission.

In 2012, Gorge stakeholders identified urban area planning among the top needs in the National Scenic Area.

Recognizing the importance of planning for the future of the Gorge, Gov. John Kitzhaber and the Oregon legislature made a significant commitment to increase funding for the Gorge Commission.

When Washington did not match Oregon’s commitment, Oregon legislators and the governor’s office quickly turned to the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development to instead provide a grant through DLCD’s local government planning grants program.

“We appreciate Oregon’s continued commitment to help build efficient, livable communities and to work together as stewards of the Gorge,” said Gorge Commission Director Darren Nichols. “The National Scenic Area is recognized as a world-class landscape; this grant from Oregon’s DLCD gives us an opportunity to help build world-class communities within this stunning landscape.”

DLCD Director Jim Rue added, “We are pleased to be able to support local planning efforts in the Gorge communities. The additional Oregon funds enable the commission and DLCD to make a significant positive step toward a vibrant, sustainable future for Gorge communities and Gorge resources.”

“We remain hopeful that Washington will recognize the value of investing in regional planning for communities on both sides of the Columbia River,” remarked Commission Chair Carl McNew. “The long-term success of the National Scenic Area depends on the commission’s ability to implement the purposes of the Gorge Compact to protect our resources and support healthy communities.”

The Gorge Commission and DLCD will now work with Gorge communities and stakeholders to develop a scope of work that meets the needs of the cities and enhances the National Scenic Area.

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