Don't let it happen
As the Sentinel reported recently, there is a strong likelihood of a major solar installation going in near the Knight Road substation. Allowing a solar project of this size would essentially shred the fabric of the Klickitat Valley—gone would be the rural setting that has appealed to most long-time local citizens, as well as newcomers, at exactly the time that many urban-bound professionals are working from home, looking to find a quieter place from which to work. Just imagine sitting in the rodeo stands at the Klickitat County Fair, looking to Mt. Adams to the northwest, and instead seeing the glare of as many as nine square miles of black glass. What a landscape backdrop to the county fair—the pivotal event of spring and summer here!
Solutions? Get involved right now! Take a look at the cease.org website for information on how to be involved. At least as important, go to klickitatcounty.org, hover over the “Government” tab on the right and open the Board of County Commissioner page. Download the next agenda and join the commissioner meeting at 1 p.m. each Tuesday by Zoom, or on your phone. Read the Energy Overlay Zone documents and be informed. Today is the day to do something. Waiting to be involved only allows corporate interests with few county ties the chance to “pick the low hanging fruit” and turn the Klickitat Valley into a solar strip mine.
Front page stories in The Sentinel on development proposals in Klickitat County have caught my attention.
Even though I live In Mosier, I have always looked to Klickitat County—with its striking beauty, diversity of communities, and natural environments—as an inspiration. In recent years, though, it seems the county has been increasingly bending to big business. One has to question if this approach is doing right by its residents.
From what I know about the Under Canvas project, it seems to be an investor-owned, sprawling resort-like development, disguised as a campground wanting to locate next to the White Salmon National Wild & Scenic River. Information posted on the county’s website suggests it would cause a significant increase in wildfire risk, huge increase in traffic on a substandard access road, and conflicts with existing farm and forestry land uses. Does any part of this development outweigh the downside?
Last summer my community was ravaged by a human-caused wildfire. Even though firefighting resources were close at hand, the wind-driven fire burned more than 1,000 acres and destroyed 36 structures. There is a lot of evidence that permitting residential development such as Under Canvas in the “wildland urban interface” is not smart, but when it comes to saying no to a developer—that is just so much hot air. Millions of acres of forest land burned, thousands of homes torched, and what have we really learned?
Big energy has clearly targeted Klickitat County. Why? Developers target conservative rural governments that reject land use regulation and proffer a candy store of development permits. They really get excited when county commissioners adopt “energy overlay zones” that give energy developers largely unrestricted access to huge swaths of land area regardless of existing use. Overlay zones are meant to fast-tract projects and to preempt citizen/property owner opposition.
There is a way to deal with county governments that become joined at the hip with big business: throw the rascals out in the next election! Work to rewrite land use ordinances and overlay zones to protect property owners from corporate predations. Get involved with the democratic process.
(Note: The claim of evidence indicating that permitting residential development in the “wildland urban interface” is “not smart” is allowed in this letter as a statement of opinion. Given the imprecision of the statement, a factual reckoning of it cannot be done.)
More punching in the back seat
Spare me the performative outrage from Republicans claiming that Democrats “divisively” rebuffed their efforts to “unify.” Apparently, the truth hurts, and just like the national Republican Party, the local Klickitat GOP would rather sling mud at Democrats instead of face the truth about what their party has become.
Democrats will be more than happy to find common ground when Republicans stop spreading lies about nonexistent election fraud, stop making excuses for violent, cop-killing insurrections that attacked our Capitol (and the powerful people who incited them), stop willfully ignoring public health guidelines, and hosting in-person, mask-less gatherings. Until that happens, Democrats will continue to shine the light on the current Republican party’s anti-science, anti-truth, anti-democracy, and anti-governing ideology.
(Note: We remind readers of our opinion piece in last week’s paper. We stand by our assertion that common ground is not reached by either party making implacable demands and vilifying opponents.)