June 8, 2016 WASHINGTON, DC— A bill authored by U.S. Reps. Greg Walden (R-Hood River) and Earl Blumenauer (D-Portland) requiring the U.S. Forest Service to complete a land exchange on Mt. Hood has passed the U.S. House in an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote, 401-2. The Mount Hood Cooper Spur Land Exchange Clarification Act (H.R. 3826) directs the Forest Service to move forward with the underlying land exchange—first approved by Congress in 2009— which would help protect the local water source and grow jobs in the community.
Mt. Hood Meadows Oreg., LLC Chairman and CEO Matthew Drake expressed gratitude to Oregon’s congressional representatives for their tireless efforts, saying, “We are extremely thankful to Senator Wyden and Congressmen Walden and Blumenauer for working together in a bipartisan way to do what Congress previously directed when it passed the original 2009 Mt. Hood Legacy Act. The original act, and now the second clarifying act, protects environmentally sensitive lands in the Crystal Springs water shed and enhances Oregonian’s enjoyment of Mt. Hood, all while creating economic development and family wage jobs in the rural communities on Mt. Hood. We are also grateful to our environmental partners who have worked diligently and collaboratively to make passage of this second act of Congress possible. We look forward to the President signing this into law and urge the Forest Service to promptly move forward in implementing its provisions that will complete this long awaited exchange for the benefit of all Oregonians.”
The 2009 law authorizes a land exchange to allow development of 120 acres of federal land in Government Camp in exchange for 770 acres of non-federal land at Cooper Spur. That law clearly stated that the Forest Service should complete the exchange within 16 months. H.R. 3826 restates Congress’ intent that the Forest Service move quickly to complete the exchange, addresses disagreements over a conservation easement, and allows for a more transparent appraisal process.
Identical legislation introduced in the Senate by Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley was passed by that body in April as part of a broader energy and resources bill. Today’s passage by the House will send the bill to the President for signature.
In an U.S. House of Representatives official press release, Congressmen Greg Walden and Earl Blumenauer spoke to the need for the exchange to be completed to help protect the local water source and grow jobs in the community.
“Seven years ago, Congress passed our bipartisan bill clearly stating that the Forest Service should complete the Mt. Hood Cooper Spur land exchange within 16 months. And yet here we are some 88 months later having to pass new legislation to get the job done,” said Walden. “This land exchange is critical for protecting Crystal Springs, the water source for the City of Hood River and the upper Hood River Valley, and would allow for economic development and family wage jobs in the area. The communities around Mt. Hood have waited long enough, it’s time for the Forest Service to finish the job.”
“This land transfer has been delayed for far too long. Today’s action in the House brings us one step closer to timely completion of the exchange and further cements Congressional direction to get it done—helping to concentrate development on the south side of the mountain, protect new land under federal ownership, and realize additional protections for key areas,” said Blumenauer. “Thank you to Congressman Walden for his partnership on this bill. Together, along with our colleagues in the Senate, we will continue pushing until the Forest Service finishes the job we directed it to complete years ago.”