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Columbia River Gorge Blog

25th Anniversary of the National Scenic Areaphoto

On August 13, 2011 almost two hundred gathered in Stevenson to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the National Scenic Area. A recognition reception to honor the contributions of key senators, congressman, governors, treaty tribes and individuals who were integral in the passing of the National Scenic Area legislation, was held at the Skamania Lodge. The Lodge, partially funded by specific appropriations in the Act, served as the perfect example of how the Act was written to support local communities while protecting resources.

Senator Wyden, called away to attend Senator Hatfield’s memorial, sent along the following message, read by State Director, Mary Gautreaux:

“Twenty-five years ago, a group of truly dedicated individuals came together to find a way to permanently protect one of the nation’s natural treasures... This law passed for one very simple reason: There is no place on earth like the Columbia River Gorge. No one can pass through it without being deeply and profoundly moved. It is a place that speaks to you about the power and beauty of nature. And designating it a national scenic area speaks to the fact that these surroundings hold a special place in our hearts.”

Congressman Earl Blumenauer commented on the future of the Scenic Area. “The future of the Columbia River Gorge presents an incredible opportunity for those who care about protecting this iconic landscape and ensuring future prosperity for the communities within.  Citizens, Tribal leaders, and lawmakers can find common ground in ensuring that the scenic, cultural, and economic resources will be sustained for generations to come.”

Kimberly Pincheria spoke on behalf of Senator Maria Cantwell, thanking those who have “helped to make the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area a place to be treasured now and for all future generations”.

Congressman Don Bonker recognized the contributions of Senator Mark Hatfield, Senator Ron Wyden and Congressman Norm Dicks. Congressman Dicks provided a letter congratulating those who remain focused on the protection of the Gorge and reminding us that “This enduring legislation continues to ensure that appropriate measures are taken to protect this amazing national treasure for future generations”. 

Congressman Bonker also read from a letter from Governor Victor Atiyeh, expressing his passion for the Gorge. The Governor remarked that “The passage of the Scenic Act was a moment in Oregon history that will assure those yet unborn to the see the same awesome beauty that our eyes behold today. In addition to your work and loyalty I take pride to have been alive to start and finally see the act become a reality. Senator Mark Hatfield did the heavy lifting in Congress and I am positive he managed to accomplish this because of his stature and respect among colleagues. It is so very sad he cannot hear our grateful thanks”.

Joyce Reinig, Chair of the Columbia River Gorge Commission said that Senator Hatfield’s passing is a timely reminder of his commitment to protecting the Gorge.  On behalf of the Commission, she read a proclamation made in his honor, gratefully commemorating his support and leadership that proved vital to the Act being signed into law in 1986.

Bowen Blair spoke of historical aspects in the passage of the Act. He chronicled events and activities that happened before the Act was passed, and praised the efforts of Nancy Russell, Senators and Congressmen, and others who were committed to the Act.

Gerry Lewis, Chair of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fishing Commission and Tribal Council member of Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation, presented the tribal perspective of the Gorge and Native American stewardship since time immemorial.

Paul Pearce called attention to the communities of the Gorge, and explained their relationship with the Scenic Area Act. He expressed significant concerns for the future of Gorge communities as well as resource protection without more stable support for the Gorge Commission.

Jane Jacobsen, Chair of the 25th Anniversary Planning Committee noted that many businesses and organizations had embraced the two goals of the Scenic Area Act, supporting the local economies and protecting resources. She recognized Burlington Northern Santa Fe for their contributions to both environmental improvements and economic vitality of the Gorge, which is aligned with the two purposes of the Scenic Area Act. Andrew Johnson, Assistant Vice President State Government Affairs, who grew up in The Dalles, Oregon, spoke of the railroads 100+ year relationship with the communities of the gorge.

The reception was followed by a Traditional Blessing ceremony at the Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center Museum, led by Davis “Yellowash” Washines of the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation and Chief of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fisheries Enforcement. 

This lodge is one of the friendliest places I know. Everyone seems to genuinely enjoy working there and doing whatever they can to assist the guests.

Jeanne, Salem Oregon

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