A Columbia Gorge advocacy group is taking Skamania County to court.
Portland-based Friends of the Columbia Gorge is charging the county with “failing to protect its critical areas and resource lands in violation of state law.” The land, while unzoned, had been protected until Skamania lifted a development and forest work moratorium on Aug. 21.
Because the lands contain commercial timber, state law requires that Skamania County must protect them, according to Friends of the Columbia Gorge. The group said many of the lands also contain sensitive fish and wildlife habitat and other important resources.
The case was filed earlier this month in a Clark County court.
Skamania County had a moratorium on development and forest-related work on the unzoned lands for five years. The moratorium was recently repealed for most of those unzoned lands.
The Friends group said the repeal “opened the floodgates to projects like the Whistling Ridge wind energy project.”
Skamania officials couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.
Skamania’s Board of Commissioners will hold a public hearing on Sept. 25 to decide whether to make the moratorium repeal permanent.
“Thousands of acres of land in Skamania County have never been zoned, leaving these lands potentially open for large-scale energy facilities, factories, and other industrial uses, rather than channeling such uses into appropriately designated zones,” the Friends group wrote.
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