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Letter to the Editor: Possible confusion

— Possible confusion

To the editor:

The final paragraph of The Chronicle’s Feb. 6 story, “Mayor eyes role and goals,” was constructed in such a way that casual readers may draw erroneous conclusions from it.

Here is how it appeared:

“The [urban area] expansion process is made complex by the fact that the Scenic Area is federally protected and the gorge commission has authority to make minor adjustments to boundaries around 13 urban centers. However, significant changes have to be signed off by Congress and Friends of the Columbia Gorge, a watchdog conservation group, contends the Scenic Act allows only minor revisions and is expected to challenge major changes. In addition, Friends asserts that boundary revisions have to avoid harm to the scenic, natural, cultural and recreational resources of the gorge, another potential point of contention.”

The placement of the “and” in that second sentence could lead people to read it as “However, significant changes have to be signed off by Congress and Friends of the Columbia Gorge....”

Thus the casual reader might conclude that the Friends of the Columbia River Gorge have a veto power equal to Congress, which is absolutely not correct.

The Columbia River Gorge Commission has the authority to revise urban area boundaries. Because the boundaries were established by Congress in federal law, Congress also could make boundary changes by amending the Scenic Area Act. No other agency, nor any interest group, has that decision-making role.

When the Gorge Commission considers requests for boundary revisions, or any significant policy affecting the Scenic Area, it considers whether the request meets criteria prescribed by law and it takes into account the interests of landowners, Tribal governments, counties and cities, and many others, including any concerns raised by interest groups such as Friends of the Columbia Gorge. Commission actions do not have to comply with assertions of or be “signed off” by Friends of the Columbia Gorge or any other interest group.

And in the specific instance of Urban Area boundary revisions, the Gorge Commission is interested in finding solutions that involve the interests of all parties.

Rodger Nichols,

Wasco County appointee

to the Columbia River

Gorge Commission

The Dalles

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