Implementing the management plan for the White Salmon National Wild and Scenic River hinges on acquiring willing seller property, but for 30 years, the Forest Service has resisted doing that. This mismanagement has resulted in extensive clear cutting and residential development with the management corridor.
When Weyerhaeuser land along the river came up for sale, Columbia Gorge Audubon Society encouraged the Forest Service to bring this land into public ownership. Negotiations seemed to be under way, but then we learned that Weyerhaeuser was dealing with Under Canvas for the same property. Under Canvas is a “glamping” (glamorized camping) development corporation that caters to elite campers.
Suspecting that an attempt was being made to preempt the public option, a January Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request was made to the Forest Service to uncover the truth, but that request has been “log-jammed.” Apparently, Under Canvas believes that public ownership of land within the river management area would conflict with their private interests, and those private interests seem to coincide with Forest Service interests, an agency supposedly dedicated to serving the public’s interest.
Meanwhile, SDS Lumber Company is once again preparing to log the Spring Creek area within the river management boundaries. Last January, a FOIA request was also made for a copy of a 1988 Forest Service “cease and desist” letter to SDS that halted logging in the same area. That operation required a community blockade to end inconsistent logging. We contend that if a “cease and desist” order was good then, it is good now. But the Forest Service has “log-jammed” that information request, too.
While a deadly virus has us hunkered down, we believe the Forest Service and rich corporations are trying to degrade and develop our river instead of preserving it for the enjoyment of future generations. If they are successful, we predict the Forest Service will use the degradation they allow to justify collapsing the river boundaries and leaving us with a forest of stumps and a few nice places for rich campers and exclusive residential development. For more information, go to GorgeAlert.org
Dave Thies, president, CGAS
Comment on Hanford
While we are living in the midst of the COVID-19 public health crisis, we can’t forget that a potential public health crisis resulting in toxic and radioactive contamination for people, water, land, and the air looms nearby just up the river from us — the aging infrastructure of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation with more than 500 contaminated facilities and structures. The Hanford cleanup has been moving at a snail’s pace over the past 30 years with delays, shortcuts and federal budget cuts, not to mention tanks leaking and a tunnel collapse. It is another example of kicking the can down the road for our children and children’s children to clean up the mess.
Recently, the U.S. Department of Energy released a “planned action” for some of this infrastructure. It is important that we weigh in on this issue. What is being proposed —cement grouting some of the aging infrastructure — is not sufficient; it is an interim fix. We need to hear the long-range plan that tells us the impact to our groundwater and soil over time.
Though it didn’t get much press in this neck of the woods, last month, on March 31, a 6.5 magnitude earthquake near Stanley, Idaho, sent us a warning. Its rumble could be felt in Cove, Ore. In geography class, we learned that earth movement can triggered by a sizable earthquake. This could be devastating if an earthquake occurred close to Hanford.
We need to let USDOE know we are paying attention and that what is being proposed is not acceptable as it stands. I urge all of us to write to send our “public comment” to the U.S. Department of Energy, Attn: Jennifer Colborn, P.O. Box 450, H-6-60, Richland, WA 99352 by no later than May 22.
'Unrest and breakdown’
Remember how we used to take our kids to chicken pox parties? A friend recently joked that we should use idled cruise ships to host COVID-19 parties. People tired of self-isolating and anxious to return to work could volunteer for a four-week cruise, free food and open bar along with a controlled dose of the virus and medical staff to oversee the resulting illness. They could leave with a certificate of immunity to allow them to return to work, restaurants and bars and sporting events.
On a more serious note, there might be merit in giving people with no underlying health conditions the choice to be dosed, quarantined and tested for immunity. Using vacant hotels and underutilized hospital beds to house people who volunteer to be exposed would allow people to return to work without the risk of exposing family, friends or co-workers.
Health professionals warn that given our limited ability to test and trace, an easing of social distancing will result in waves of outbreaks and renewed closures over the next two years. Unless we are able to develop and administer an effective vaccine, getting the virus may become more a question of when rather than if.
The economy can’t be placed on hold forever. We are already witnessing protests over closures. Without a way for at least some people to move forward, we risk increasing social unrest and a breakdown of needed social distancing.
Three asks for Legislators:
Our elected officials in D.C. need to move ahead boldly with three actions that are all critically needed at this time:
1. Pass the House’s Emergency Money for the People Act, and create and pass a similar version in the Sen-ate. We must put COVID funds in the hands of the people so they can stay in their homes, keep the lights on, put food on the table, and access medical care.
2. Fully fund the USPS and vote-by-mail.
3. Insist on robust legislative oversight to ensure the administration uses the money the way the law intends.
Trump cares only for his wealthy and corporate donors, and for his re-election. Supporting needy individuals? Ensuring COVID-safe voter access? Protecting our democracy? Not his concerns. I call on Sen. Jeff Merkley, Sen. Ron Wyden, and Rep. Greg Walden to act on all of these on our behalf.
Grateful for help
Back Home on the Ridge, 30 April 2020! Home at last. Our thanks to the Lord and all who gave us kind words, good thoughts, their prayers and their funds following (the fire on) July 17, 2018.
The help given by Monte Wasson was tremendous. Mike Sandoz rebuilt our better barn. Cruz Tree Service cleaned up and saved much of our landscaping. We’re grateful for the input of Richie Wallace, Mike Hammel, John DePriest, and Jeff Cochenour. Mostly, our appreciation goes to Jim Johnson for the neighborly hospitality, then Dave Adams, JJ Castro, Alpine Plumbing, Doug Jenkins Electric, Oliver’s Floors and the exceptional crews they brought to our place to get us back home on the ridge.
Good work, good workers, good people one and all.
Thank you all so very much!
Gary & Debbie VanOrman
COVID money for the wealthy
I am outraged that the much-need COVID rescue funds authorized by Congress have gone to further enrich the wealthy rather than supporting individuals who are out of work and small businesses on the verge of collapse.
This is the same song we’ve been hearing for the last three years from the Trump administration and his Senate enablers. Any further spending packages need to fund vote-by-mail and guarantee legislative oversight so that money is spent as intended.
Protect every worker
Our elected officials, Sen. Jeff Merkley, Sen. Ron Wyden, and Rep. Greg Walden, should all be insisting on protection of our front-line, low-income workers. Low income employees work in essential jobs like retail, transportation and food production and are disproportionately exposed to coronavirus in their work settings. Unlike white collar workers, they can’t work from home, nor can they afford to simply stay home to stay safe. Many are working in unsafe conditions without proper physical distancing, sufficient protective equipment, or sick leave.
Approximately 4,000 COVID-19 related complaints have been filed by workers for unsafe working conditions. OSHA hasn’t issued a single citation or fine. Compliance with CDC coronavirus guidelines by businesses is currently voluntary.
Trump continues to push for businesses to reopen regardless of risk to employees, and even issued an executive order requiring meat packing plants to remain open, regardless of infection hazards. Neither health or safety requirements were included in the order. Some governors have ruled that workers who refuse to return to unsafe workplaces will be considered a “voluntary quit” and ineligible to receive unemployment benefits.
Since Trump is unwilling to take an interest in protecting low-income workers, Congress must step up. Congress must ensure that people are not forced to continue to work in conditions unsafe for them and their families.
The “Every Worker Protection Act,” HR 6559, will establish workplace coronavirus safeguards for all workers. Every U.S. Senator and Congressperson should support it and work to ensure its prompt passage.
New York governor stated he was considering opening the streets to permit people to walk (using the social distances that’s required) since side walks are so crowded. Most of Forest Lane don’t have side walks and you are risking your life to try to go for a walk! Speed limit is 35, but most drivers go way past that speed and unless you call for a sheriff, there’s no one in sight!
Our hiking trails are closed, again like what we suffered through the forest fire! Why can’t we open our trails close to our town, and restrict to our citizens, only?
I heard Hood River may open some (biking) trails to their citizens! Our taxes keep going up for what?
Editor’s note: Hood River County opened its forestland trails to biking — no vehicle parking allowed — in late April.
Hoarding toilet paper.
Rosauers was out, and Walmart says they can’t keep it in stock.
Are other countries hoarding it?
A giant mess
I am disgusted but not surprised by the behavior of people from the top to the bottom during this current pandemic. I do believe the government should side on the health and welfare of the people it represents, but this is really a giant mess. Take Sweden’s experiment of trying to acquire herd immunity while protecting the most vulnerable. It isn’t rocket science.
But of course, like most of the world, we chose a half-assed approach to social distance, stay at home, pay people more not to work and shut down an economy, the largest in the world. Hmm, our president can say some pretty stupid things. Like, “Let’s infuse Lysol into people.” But he can also say some intelligent things, such as, “The cure can’t be worse than the disease.” I am afraid that is where we are headed.
By nature, people, especially Americans, are extremely self centered, greedy and destructive. So, how does this play out. Well, go to a store. Half of the people don’t wear masks. Hmm, social distancing, wearing masks and disinfecting hands are probably the most important aspects of this pandemic. And masks are number one.
When they are done shopping, they all head out to the country to get outdoors. They can’t go to parks, so they park along the country roads, drive up gravel back roads and congregate in groups or worse yet, get out and hike and walk in our rural neighborhoods. This is getting irritating.
The people who live in the rural communities should be protected as much as every other group. But no, the state pushes them into our communities because they have shut down the parks. Well, now thanks to the destructive people, our gravel roads are getting torn up as I watch idiots speed down them at 45 miles an hour and spin out. So much fun?! Our road in particular is paid for by local residents.
It is bad enough dealing with rattlesnakes, hornets, ground squirrels, and COVID, but disrespectful human beings are the worse vermin.
We better hope the virus just decides to self destruct, because if it doesn’t it won’t end anytime soon.
Praying will not stop this. Being considerate to others and especially the vulnerable, will. It isn’t about you! It never was.
Is America great again?
Our present predicament began July 16, 2016, when Trump delivered his nomination speech with “I, alone can fix it!” Things became worse with his “America First!” inauguration speech. His profound lying, arrogance and unconscious ignorance has not made America great again. He alone is responsible for this problem.
In March 2015, Bill Gates delivered his TED presentation outlining the world’s vulnerability to a novel respiratory virus. We lacked detection, containment, and treatment capability. TED presentations are all available on YouTube with over 39 million views. Gates' presentation was common knowledge in the public domain. The Gates – Buffett Foundation is legendary for improving health, especially in the poorest countries. Gates knew of which he spoke.
The H1N1 epidemic in 2009 and the Ebola epidemic of 2014-2016 did not become pandemics primarily because the United States led, with China, Mexico, and the World Health Organization, an effective response. The Obama administration acknowledging the serious viral threats, included a Global Health Security Team within the National Security Council. January 6, 2017, 14 days before the inauguration, the National Center for Medical Intelligence (NCMI), which is a component of the Defense Intelligence Agency, wrote a draft report: “Novel Contagious pathogens capable of human-to-human transmission … present the greatest challenge to response and recovery.” Further, “… result in debilitating illness in military forces at levels significant enough to degrade combat readiness ….”; “There will be competing interests for resources globally such as ventilators, devices, personal protective equipment, face masks, gloves, and logistical support.”
National Security Advisor, LTG Flynn, spent 31 days entirely on covering up Russian collusion. Follow on National Security advisors LTG McMaster and Robert Bolton dismissed Global Health Security Team. Trump has only attended 15 percent of the president’s daily security briefings, and even then only short simple presentations in graphical novel form can fleetingly hold his attention. Only obtuse lethargy could prevent a president understanding the gravity of a novel coronavirus.
Captain Cozier would have been relieved of command (impeached) if he put the Roosevelt in unnecessary danger. He would have been court martialed (prison). Trump has exposed the whole U. S. Military to this unnecessary danger. Trump could have been the hero if he could understand intelligence briefings and contained this virus in China. “America First” prevented us from leading an international assault at the beginning. Now, he and his sycophants have plunged us into a lethal pandemic, and a worldwide depression.
Is America Great Again?
Write at least one letter, emails work too, about this — to Congress members. They are read and considered to be representative of many others who don’t write (who writes letters any more? Well... who else?) One letter is, to them, many, many more who didn’t write.
This law, tucked into our emergency package, benefits Trump, Jared and “friends” hugely ($1.6 million on average). It needs wide and loud broadcasting as an example of DT’s idea of “draining the swamp”.
If publicized widely, it could be as effective as the release of DT’s taxes! Just one good letter ... to start.
I am going to do a poster board and stand by the post office with it, with leaflets that have some of your ideas. And please send me some of your analogies, eg, ”This would be like the millionaires shopping at a members-owned food co-op taking over the board and voting their demographic never has to pay for their food.”
Okay, not the best ... you’ll do better and send it to me so I can collect them for us.
We can’t afford elected officials like Chuck Thomsen.
The last few months have been a challenging time for all. They’ve also highlighted the critical role of good, effective governance during unforeseen and uncontrollable events. We’ve learned that we should use times of peace and stability to prepare for potential hardships in the future.
Unfortunately, Oregon was unable to fully prepare itself for today’s hardships. Why? Republican State Senators didn’t take their jobs seriously.
State Sen. Chuck Thomsen walked off the job in the last legislation session, with the stated goal of blocking critical legislation that included the need to protect healthcare, grow small businesses, strengthen schools, and provide emergency housing funding.
This is unacceptable. We cannot afford elected officials who squander our time on petty partisan infighting and publicity stunts.
We know that now more than ever. We need to use the time we have to better prepare for our future. I urge my neighbors to join me in signing the petition for a new election at recallthomsen.com/thank-you.
Thomsen’s constituents deserve the right to make their voices heard.
No mask, no service
Why is it that we can adhere to drunk driving laws but can’t wear a mask in public?
We comply to avoid a potential accident and hurting or killing ourselves or worse, another innocent person. Society won’t tolerate drunk drivers and our laws support what we value: Life.
Oregon has been blessed with relatively few COVID deaths due to 1. Our leaders at the state and local level acting quickly and decisively to flatten the curve and 2. Our community complying with social distancing measures to keep us all safe. Ironically, as society opens up, our low infection rates make the Gorge more vulnerable due to the low number of antibody-resistant community members now out in public. CDC statistics anticipate over 100,000 deaths in the U.S. by early June as we open up society.
So why am I seeing so many customers in Safeway without masks? The company should be commended for its responsible and respectful measures to keep its employees and the public safe while shopping. Now more than ever, as our town opens up and tourism begins again, we need to send a community message that the Gorge won’t tolerate selfish displays of “rugged individualism” at the expense of our most vulnerable. We are a community who cares for all and cooperates for the sake of society.
That is why I am returning my purchase from Ace Hardware in Hood River. I’m appalled that they did not require employees to wear masks. While the store adhered to the 15 people at-a-time measure, many customers and almost ALL of the employees were not wearing masks! I went there to support our local stores but until Ace — and any other local establishment — leads by example and requires masks, I will not be supporting their business.
We need to make it socially unacceptable to be in public without a mask. I rigged adequate masks with a sock, a sanitary pad adhered inside, and a pair of scissors. It’s not rocket science.
No shirt, No shoes, No service. Now stretch a bit: No mask, No service. No exceptions.
Over the past three years of U.S. history, I have been repeatedly bombarded with two messages. The message from President Trump has been how great the economy was doing and how tremendous every American’s life was. The second message came from Trump supporters who justified the numerous shortcomings of the president as a decent human being as justified and irrelevant because of the economy and related issues.
If we were all doing so well, why are millions of Americans in food lines? Why can’t they pay their rent and mortgages even though they have worked hard for decades? Shouldn’t “doing well” mean you can live comfortably, AND save money for times like this? If a hard-working family cannot save enough money to get through a few months of financial hardship, were we really doing that well?
Many in desperate need seem unable to collect unemployment or even get the tiny checks the government so grudgingly and slowly sent out. A lot more effort seemed to go into building a ridiculous wall than taking care of Americans.
Hopefully Americans’ memories will be a little better in November when they realize all the #slogans, Deep State theories, corporate tax cuts, and “lying media” have nothing to do with ensuring they have better lives.
First, I think you need at least one actual employee, or at least half time, with an actual permanent desk located in White Salmon. And likewise of course in Hood River and The Dalles.
Then you might cultivate reliable “stringers,” if that is the right word, in smaller communities around the Gorge who are paid for each published piece.
There’s always something weird going on in Cascade Locks, for example. Or Parkdale, a whole world unto itself. Not a lot of dough involved here, but a long term positive effect on circulation.
Second, comics! Where are the comics?!