November 4, 2016 / Comments (6)

Got Opinions About the Mt. Hood Land Exchange? The Forest Service Wants to Hear from You

There’s a massive real estate deal in the works on Mount Hood, and if you have opinions about it, the Forest Service would like to hear them.

The long-delayed Mt. Hood Land Exchange finally reached a key milestone with the Oct. 28 release of a Draft Environmental Impact Statement. The document is available for your perusal, weighing in at a slightly bloated 393 pages, not including supporting documents.

For those of you lacking the appetite for devouring 393 pages of EIS-speak, here are nine key facts to give you a sense of the magnitude and importance of the Mt. Hood Land Exchange:

  1. The deal would exchange 109 acres of public land just north of Government Camp for 769 acres of land owned by Mt. Hood Meadows around Cooper Spur.
  2. The Mt. Hood Wilderness Bill of 2009 mandated completion within 16 months, but little progress has been made in 7 years.
  3. The deal has been in the works since 2003.
  4. A bill requiring the Forest Service to complete the land swap passed the U.S. House 401-2, in June 2016.
  5. The properties in question have not yet been appraised.
  6. Zoning in Government Camp allows for lodging, while the Cooper Spur property is mostly zoned forest (thus the 7:1 land value ratio).
  7. The exchange would create new wilderness areas and protect the Crystal Springs source of drinking water.
  8. Meadows’s goal is to build on-the-mountain lodging in Govy.
  9. The Cooper Spur Ski Area is included in the deal.

The Forest Service’s analysis of the project considered cultural resources; hydrology; wetlands; water rights; threatened, endangered, and sensitive species (aquatics, wildlife, and plants); recreation; visuals; facilities; and socio-economics. But solid property valuations are still missing in action. Those numbers will be crucial, because the law requires that public-private land swaps must involve properties of comparable value.

Want more details? The DEIS has details! In addition to the 393-page DEIS, some 15 supporting documents with maps and wetland inventories are available online here. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have time to read it right now. If you have suggestions about newsworthy aspects of this mega-deal-in-the-works, please pop me a line with reporting suggestions.

Meadows President Matthew Drake has lobbied hard to make the deal happen, with support from environmental groups, Senator Ron Wyden, and U. S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer.

The Mt. Hood National Forest is providing a 90-day public comment period for the Government Camp – Cooper Spur land Exchange DEIS. Anyone interested in commenting may do through snail-mail at Mt. Hood National Forest, 16400 Champion Way, Sandy, Oregon 97055; via fax at 503-668-1423; or through e-mail at this address.

The map below shows the rough location of the property north of Government Camp that would go from public ownership to Mt. Hood Meadows. Meadows plans to develop lodging with shuttle buses connecting to its main resort. There is also a long-term, long-shot plan involving a gondola connecting Govy with Timberline, but extending that aerial connection over the White River drainage to Vista Ridge at Meadows remains a long-shot (though a long-shot worth considering).


This overview map screenshot gives you a sense of how much larger the Cooper Spur property to the northeast is than the Government Camp property to the southwest:

Shred Hood Editor Ben Jacklet is a lifelong skier, a career journalist, and an MBA student at Portland State University.

Last modified: November 4, 2016

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