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Lots at stake as authorities tackle a once-per-decade review of management plan for this precious natural area.

PHOTO BY WARREN MORGAN, COURTESY OF FRIENDS OF COLUMBIA GORGE - Twilight in the gorge, viewed from Rowena Crest on the Oregon side of the Columbia River. The town of Lyle, Washington, one of the Gorge's 13 designated Urban Areas, is visible at left. The Columbia River Gorge Commission and the U.S. Forest Service are immersed in a review of the management plan for the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, as required once every 10 years under the 1986 law that created the scenic area.

The scenic area, known for its world-class scenery, hikes and waterfalls, is one of the great natural treasures of the Pacific Northwest.

At the gorge commission's monthly meeting on June 12 in The Dalles, it will consider whether to expand the boundaries of the 13 urban areas within the scenic area where economic development is intended to occur.

Many issues could arise.

The gorge was heavily affected by last summer's Eagle Creek fire, and there are projects under way to rehabilitate scarred landscapes. Other potential issues are the potential impact of climate change on the gorge, the impact of rail traffic, applications to build "trophy homes" in the corridor, and projects to promote tourism that capitalize on the rich recreational assets in the gorge that benefit communities whose economic development has been constricted by the scenic area's protection.

Find out more

• To learn about the Friends of the Columbia Gorge's concerns about the management plan review, see: bit.ly/2IZOvUv

• To read the current scenic area management plan: www.gorgecommission.org/management-plan/plan/

• For information about the June 12 gorge commission meeting: bit.ly/2LI5b4I

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