Turns 20 This Year
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the landmark legislation that established the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area in Oregon and Washington. Despite all the controversy that the bill was met with during its inception-it seems to be working the way its authors intended. With Portland and Vancouver continuously sprawling-the Columbia Gorge NSA has retained a viable rural landscape without being swallowed up by urban development. A trip into the Gorge, especially the Washington side-is a trip back into the past. Historic hamlets and quaint villages-all with a breathtaking background of emerald forests, rolling farmlands, and lush wetlands greets the traveler. We should definitely be celebrating the success of this unique conservation initiative-that not only protects scenic and naturally important landscapes-but preserves and encourages a healthy rural economy as well. It should be a model for other areas-and why similar legislation has not been proposed for other threatened rural areas is beyond me. Most remarkable is the fact that one of the authors of this legislation was Slade Gorton (R-WA)-a man that wasn't exactly remembered as an environmentalist. Where is the leadership now? In both parties? Contemplate what this model can do for other places in America. You can read about what you can visit in Washington's side of the Gorge in an upcoming article I have written for Northwest Travel magazine. If you're interested in helping to protect this Northwest and national treasure, check out: Friends of the Columbia Gorge.