Twilight in the Gorge, viewed from Rowena Crest on the Oregon side of the Columbia River. The town of Lyle, WA, one of the Gorge's 13 designated Urban Areas, is visible at left. (photographer: Warren Morgan)
The Columbia River Gorge is a natural scenic treasure and is protected as a federally designated National Scenic Area. In 2017, the Columbia River Gorge Commission and the U.S. Forest Service are beginning to review Gorge protection plans to see if they need to be revised.
BackgroundWhen enacted in 1986, the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area Act required the development of a Management Plan that ensures the protection and enhancement of scenic, natural, cultural and recreation resources. The Management Plan also must protect agricultural lands, forest lands and open spaces. The original Management Plan was adopted in 1991 and has been reviewed only once in 25 years, although the law requires it to be reviewed at least once every ten years. Most of the resource protection provisions of the plan are based on inventories, science, and policies that are more than 25 years old.
Read current Management Plan
Many of the issues raised by the public during the last review of the plan have not been addressed, yet development on sensitive lands within the National Scenic Area continues to march forward under guidelines developed more than 25 years ago. In 2004, some regulations were weakened to allow more logging on sensitive lands in the Gorge, even on National Forest lands in Special Management Areas. New mining operations are still allowed in the Scenic Area. The Gorge’s outstanding geologic features receive no special protection and are exposed to open pit mining. Native plant communities, including Native American first foods, receive no protection despite tribal treaty rights. Land divisions take place without analysis of cumulative effects to scenic, natural, cultural, and recreation resources.
Friends' Recommendations on the Scope of Gorge Management Plan ReviewPlan Review Talking Points (PDF)
The Columbia River Gorge is a natural scenic treasure and is protected as a federally designated National Scenic Area. It is also home to 13 communities, or urban areas, where economic development is intended to occur. In March 2017, the Columbia River Gorge Commission and U.S. Forest Service closed the scoping period of the Management Plan review. After reviewing all the comments received during the scoping period, the agencies identified which issues should be addressed in the ambitious revision process in 2018. Information sessions will be held to discuss progress with a target date of June 2019 to complete the Plan Revision.
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