Hood River County Commissioners have voted to participate as a plaintiff in the Hood River Valley Residents Committee’s lawsuit against the U.S. Forest Service seeking to compel that agency to complete the Mt. Hood Meadows/Government Camp land exchange. County Administrator David Meriwether says the County wants to see this settled, and Commissioners felt they would best served by having a seat at the table. The land swap was negotiated by the Residents Committee, Mt. Hood Meadows, and others seven years ago to protect the forestland. In exchange for 120 acres of developable national forest land near Government Camp on the mountain’s southwestern slope, Mt. Hood Meadows agreed to abort plans for a resort on Cooper Spur and turn its 770-acre land holdings over to the Forest Service. Congress in 2009 gave the Forest Service 16 months to complete the trade, but numerous delays have held it up, most recently over some environmental protections. A Mount Hood National Forest spokesperson said when the suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Portland last month that legal processes have kept progress slow.
Hood River City Councilors reached consensus on approving strategies dealing with creating more affordable workforce housing, sending them on to municipal staff to begin to develop proposals for making them happen. The Council dealt with three different areas, including increasing the efficiency of land use within the Urban Growth Boundary, developing affordable housing, and regulating and managing short-term rental housing. A large part of the discussion centered on short-term housing, with one strategy calling for an evaluation of options to limit the number of short-term rentals. Mayor Paul Blackburn says it was the hardest question to deal with, adding they don’t want to take away what already exists but they do want to retard future growth. City staff will now work on studying options to implement the strategies, and will bring them to the municipal planning commission and the Council over the next few months.
Phase 1 of the East Scenic Drive Stabilization project in The Dalles has been completed. It corrects a shallow embankment failure that was occurring in the area by constructing 550 lineal feet of retaining wall and installing a storm water drainage system along Scenic Drive. The paving that was done in the project area is a thin temporary layer that will be replaced when Phase 2 takes place in three to five years. It will provide for the construction of another 525 feet of retaining wall along with some associated underground utility system repairs. At that time new curbs and sidewalks will be constructed throughout the entire project area and the street will be repaved to match the new curb elevations. City officials note this embankment failure is not a reactivation of the historic Kelly Avenue landslide.
Containment of the County Line 2 Fire on the Warm Springs Reservation is up to 31 percent. That fire has burned 61,735 acres. As of Tuesday morning, all Warm Springs Reservation evacuation advisories were reduced to Level 1 except for Tenino Road, which remains at Level 2 from mile post 1 to mile post 7. Crews today will continue with structural protection and direct and indirect line construction, and strengthening containment lines. Firefighters continue to look for opportunities to build containment lines in the steep, tough to access terrain in canyon bottoms and proceed with operations in those areas if possible. Because of progress made on the northeast and east sides of the fire, crews will begin to concentrate on the southwest, which still has heavy fuels including timber. On the northeast side of the fire, crews are patrolling burned areas in and around structures. Three residences have been reported destroyed along with one other structure. The cause of the fire reported Wednesday afternoon remains under investigation.
The Cougar Creek Fire north of Glenwood is now listed at 20 percent containment. The fire grew by 100 acres on Monday to 22,600 acres. Fire movement Tuesday was expected to be to the north along Mt. Adams’ east aspect, fueled mainly by bug-killed lodgepole pines. Fire crews will be looking to strengthen lines along the west and south flanks, continue line construction and burnout along the east flank, and scout line locations to the north. Scattered homes north of Glenwood remain under a Level 1 evacuation advisory, while all Washington State Department of Natural Resources lands and recreation sites within the Glenwood block and the south climb and all other trails on the south and east sides of Mt. Adams between Forest Road 23 at Williams Mine to the eastern boundary of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest are all closed.
Morning mist, cooler temperatures, and calmer winds helped slow the spread of the Cougar Creek Fire north of Glenwood and allowed firefighting crews to bring 15 percent of the line under containment. The fire grew by 200 acres on Sunday to 22,500 acres. Line building efforts Monday are focused on the southeast finger of the fire to pinch off the front that was advancing toward Glenwood. Resources are also being directed to the north end of the fire to keep it from reaching Big Muddy Creek, while preservation of an irrigation flume off Bacon Creek on the east remains a priority. Heavy use of air resources will continue. Residents north of Ladiges Road remain under a Level 1 evacuation advisory, while all Washington State Department of Natural Resources lands and recreation sites within the Glenwood block and the south climb and all other trails on the south and east sides of Mt. Adams between Forest Road 23 at Williams Mine to the eastern boundary of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest are all closed. A public meeting on the lightning-caused fire is set for Monday at 5 p.m. at Trout Lake School.
Containment of the County Line 2 Fire on the Warm Springs Reservation is up to 25 percent. That fire has burned 55,400 acres. Crews are continuing to mop up hot spots throughout the fire, and scout and construct new fire line while improving existing line. On the northeast side of the fire, crews are patrolling burned areas in and around structures. Three residences have been reported destroyed along with one other structure. The town of Warm Springs remains under a Level 1 evacuation advisory, while areas of the Warm Springs Reservation north of Dry Creek to Simnasho Cemetery and east to the Deschutes River along with Sidwalter Flats and the West Hills are under a Level 2 advisory. The cause of the fire reported Wednesday afternoon remains under investigation.
The Port of Hood River has received a report on the biennial fracture critical inspection of the Hood River Interstate Bridge, and it includes a problem exacerbated by overweight trucks using the bridge. Port Executive Director Michael McElwee says they have known about the issue with the four connection points at the auxiliary trusses installed when the lift span of the bridge was installed in the late thirties. McElwee notes the Port Commission will consider an engineering contract to develop the plans and specifications to make the repairs, adding bridge inspectors have indicated trucks weighing over the 80,000 pound bridge limit are accelerating problems with the structure. McElwee says many of the trucks using the bridge are local, and said the Port needs to communicate better with those operators the impact overweight vehicles have on the bridge and its ability to be maintained over a long period of time.
Work started Monday as The Dalles City and Wasco County Public Works crews work together to chip seal approximately nine miles of street surfaces within the Urban Growth Boundary. The immediate work sections will be signed the day before to request “no on-street parking” for the following day. Chip sealing will begin at about 6:30 a.m. each day and finish by 6:30 p.m. Flaggers and pilot vehicles will be present to help motorists navigate through the continually moving operation. Work began on Bret Clodfelter Way today and is progress to the west as far as Pomona and Emerson Streets by Wednesday. Work will continue to complete the project on Thursday. Meanwhile, Court Street between East 3rd and East 4th will be closed to thru traffic on Tuesday between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 4:00 pm. for installation of a new water service line in preparation to repave the street. Motorists are encouraged to use Union or Washington streets as alternate routes travelling North and South. The alley between East 3rd and East 4th will be open.
A pedestrian died Friday afternoon when she attempted to cross eastbound lanes of Interstate 84 near The Dalles. According to the Oregon State Police, 47-year-old Eunice Spino died at the scene after being hit by a car driven by a 56-year-old John Day woman at around 3 p.m. Friday. The OSP says the driver is cooperating with the investigation. According to the OSP, the investigation is still continuing but early indications suggest alcohol use by Spino was a contributing factor to the crash. I-84 was completely closed for approximately one hour and traffic was diverted through The Dalles. The OSP was assisted by The Dalles Police, the Wasco County Sheriff’s Office, Oregon Department of Transportation, and the Wasco County District Attorney’s Office.