The Gorge Commission's Scenic Resources Committee, meeting Aug. 20 in White Salmon, decided against recommending the designation of the Hood River Toll Bridge as a key viewing area (KVA) as part of the panel's review of the management plan that governs land use in non-urban areas of the National Scenic Area.
The committee also clarified that Tom McCall Point was intended to be included as part of another established KVA -- the Rowena Plateau Nature Conservancy Viewpoint -- located approximately seven miles east of Mosier in Wasco County.
KVAs are important roads, viewpoints, or parks where many people view Scenic Area landscapes. The plan's scenic resource protection guidelines emphasize protection of these landscapes seen from KVAs. Currently, the management plan lists 26 KVAs, covering approximately 80 percent of Scenic Area lands.
At its Aug. 20 public meeting, the committee heard testimony from the Port of Hood River opposing KVA designation for the Hood River Toll Bridge because of regulatory concerns. In deciding not to recommend the bridge as a KVA, the committee took the Port's concerns into consideration, and decided that important scenic landscapes seen from the toll bridge are also viewed from several nearby KVAs, including the Columbia River, Interstate 84, and Washington State Route 14.
"What you see from the Hood River Bridge is also seen from other KVAs in the same vicinity, so I don't think it adds much value in protecting scenic lands by designating the bridge as a KVA," said Brian Litt, senior planner for the Columbia River Gorge Commission.
Committee Chair Wayne Wooster, in making the motion to not include the HR bridge on the KVA list, agreed.
"The bridge is surrounded by these other KVAs, and there is not enough `bang for the buck' to add it to the list," he said.
The committee, made up of five Gorge Commissioners, tabled discussion on adding three other KVAs -- U.S. Highway 97 and its bridge in the Scenic Area, the Gorge rim at Cape Horn, and Dalles Mountain Road -- until its next meeting on Sept. 17.