Shaping the Gorge’s Future
Gorge2020 is your opportunity to get involved in the process that will shape land use policy in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area for years to come. The Columbia River Gorge Commission is currently reviewing and revising the Management Plan for the National Scenic Area and we need your input. When Congress passed the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area Act, it mandated that the Gorge Commission review the Management Plan every ten years and make revisions as necessary. We are currently involved in the review and revision process that will be completed in 2020 and we would like to know how you think we can make the Gorge an even better place to live, work, and recreate. As someone who cares about the National Scenic Area, your feedback is critical to our planning process. We will use your input and comments to inform our draft policy solutions and help the Commission make sound decisions.
Summary of Gorge 2020 February 6, 2018 meeting in Corbett
An overview was given of the project by the Executive Director of the Gorge Commission, Krystyna Wolniakowski and staff. All in all they feel they have done a good job over the last 31 years, but they realize there have been changes in how people use the Gorge.
January and February of 2017 the Gorge Commission held “scoping” meetings to see what direction the public wanted to go and if they needed to make any changes in the plan. Over four hundred comments were received (all are shared on the website) and from those comments they picked four “Deep Dive Focus Topics”.
1. Is there a direct responsibility or a clear regulatory role for the Gorge Commission and the Forest Service. Right now it is unclear.
2. Emerging Land Uses and Development Review Process
Are there ways we can stream line the process. Of the 400 plus pages of Gorge Act, only 2 and 1/2 pages addresses the economic portion of the plan. The Commission has never taken a look at that portion and they will be doing that this time.
Will need to bring the Counties into the discussion.
3. Urban Area Boundaries
There are 13 urban areas in the Gorge and the Gorge Commission can make “minor” revisions to minor urban areas, but the word “minor” is not defined. It was only in the last year that a Legal Description of the boundaries was adopted, before that time the lines on the map were used as reference, but those lines could be up to 150 miles wide, so with the legal, survey possible definition things should simplify when discussing properties.
4. Recreational Opportunities
This is about the future of the Gorge, and not just on Federal Lands. Before the fire we were seeing the impact of the people on the Gorge and the damage being done. The question going forward is how do we manage recreation in the Gorge, not just let it happen.
The update needs to look at recreational items not on prior review (zip lines, rock gyms, etc) how we look at density of trails, and that’s not just the number of people on the trails, but also the number of trails in one area. What about the quality of life for the residents, what kind of experience do we want to provide for the Community, and also for the visitors.
How do we balance recreational resources with the other resources we are trying to protect.
How can the Communities of Oregon and Washington get involved in providing input and giving feedback?
There is an interactive website: Gorge2020.consider.it which is an on-line discussion format. You will be able to see how people respond to questions, they can see your answers, (it sounds like you can respond to other’s postings) and while the desire is to have you use your real name, it is not mandatory. The input is felt to be more valuable than insisting on a name requirement. There are rules to posting, you can only have one account, and you must be courteous.
Please be Elaborate in your responses, not much information can be gained from “yes” or “no” answers when you are respond to the Pros and Cons of an issue and remember they are trying to get information on mitigating the Cons, not starting on-line debates.
If you want to get more involved in the process they will be having focus groups on the deep dive categories and you can sign up to be in the group(s) that interest you. You are also encouraged to go to the workshops and get engaged at that point so your input can be discussed.
There will be a Public comment period on the Draft.