The Columbia River Gorge Commission announces the addition of three new members: Bowen Blair appointed by Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber; Gorham Blaine appointed by Hood River County; and Janet Wainwright appointed by Washington Governor Chris Gregoire.
All three bring varied and extensive experience on Gorge issues and with the Gorge community.
Commission chair Carl McNew welcomed the new appointments with "sincere thanks" to Hood River County and the respective governors of Washington and Oregon. McNew noted the commission's excitement, "Their broad range of experience brings new perspectives and offers new opportunities for the Gorge Commission."
Vice chair Keith Chamberlain echoed similar sentiments, saying "We appreciate the new appointments; we now have a full commission and we're looking forward to working with the three new members. They will be an asset to the community."
Blair attended his first meeting with the commission June 12. Blaine and Wainwright will attend their first meetings on Sept. 11 in Corbett. In the meantime, McNew, Chamberlain, and the commission's executive director Darren Nichols are working with the new commissioners to effectively put their skills and experience to use.
Blair has over 30 years of experience working on Gorge issues. In the 1980s Blair worked with Oregon and Washington and its Congressional delegations on the passage of the National Scenic Area Act; in the 1990s he worked with Gorge farmers and ranchers on the sale of conservation easements to keep lands in agricultural production; and more recently he has worked with the Tribes to protect ancestral burial grounds.
Blaine is a fourth generation resident of the Hood River valley, where he and his wife own and operate pear and apple orchards in the Hood River County communities of Parkdale and Odell. Blaine also recently played a central role in the revitalization of Parkdale's downtown.
Wainwright has a bachelor of science dgree in forest biology from the University of Washington and prior experience as the executive director of both the Washington Environmental Council and the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition, an organization whose efforts have helped to create parks, natural areas and recreation opportunities in the Gorge. She has been a small business owner for 28 years and resides in both Skamania County and the Puget Sound region.
The Columbia River Gorge Commission is comprised of 13 members who work with the Gorge community to develop land use and natural resource policy for the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Six Gorge counties each appoint one member, the governors of Oregon and Washington each appoint three members, and the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture appoints one non-voting member.