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The act allows development of 100 acres near Government Camp while protecting more than 700 acres.

FILE PHOTO - The Mountain looms above us all.Legislation to protect and enhance Oregon's land conservation and recreation priorities on Mount Hood passed the U.S. Senate unanimously just before Christmas and is on its way to the president to be signed into law.

The work was completed through bipartisan efforts. The Mt. Hood Cooper Spur Land Exchange Clarification Act was written by U.S. Senators Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, and Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon, and Representatives Greg Walden, R-Oregon, and Earl Blumenauer, D-Oregon.

"I'm proud to have worked with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and in both houses of Congress to put this long overdue land exchange in the history books," Wyden said. "Our soon-to-be-law closes this frustrating chapter of Mount Hood's past and makes it possible for the local community to finally go forward with wilderness protections and responsible development so wildlife and visitors can enjoy Mount Hood far into the future."

The act allows development of about 100 acres near Government Camp while protecting more than 700 acres on the north side. Congress passed a broad public lands bill in 2009 that included the Mt. Hood land exchange as part of the Mt. Hood Wilderness designation. That law directed the U.S. Forest Service to complete the exchange within 16 months. However, multiple delays stalled conservation and development, frustrated the local community and sparked a lawsuit against the Forest Service.

"Completing the Cooper Spur land exchange is key to protecting Crystal Springs, the water source for the city of Hood River and the upper Hood River Valley, while also encouraging economic and job growth around Mt. Hood," Walden said. "This is long past due, and I look forward to President Trump signing this bill into law so the job can finally get done."

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