CRAG Law Center – the firm representing a coalition of environmental groups (that historically have opposed development projects at Mt. Hood Meadows), has filed a suit against the US Forest Service regarding the Cooper Spur / Government Camp land exchange. The suit was the focus of a story reported today in the Oregonian.
The Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 congressionally authorized the agency to conduct an exchange of 120 acres of developable forest land in Government Camp for 770 acres of Mt. Hood Meadows-owned land adjacent to Cooper Spur Mt. Resort. The exchanges was to be completed five years ago, prompting the environmental groups who support the exchange to file the suit.
- Mt. Hood Meadows is not being sued. The environmental groups filed suit against the USFS because of the time it is taking the agency to complete the exchange.
- Mt. Hood Meadows is not suing the Forest Service. We remain an interested party, and are hopeful the exchange will proceed and be completed as the 2009 law enacted it.
- Mt. Hood Meadows supports conservation easements for wetlands on the Government Camp property; but we believe the USFS proposed conservation easement for wetland areas over-reaches well beyond protections afforded by existing conservation easement standards developed by Army Corps of Engineers and Oregon Department of State Lands. The proposed USFS conservation easement severely and unreasonably encumbers the entire property dramatically reducing property valuation.
- In order for the exchange to be completed, Federal Law mandates the properties must be equally valued, within 25% of each other. That’s why the conservation easement is so important, as it significantly decreases the Government Camp land value, potentially preventing the exchange.
Our leadership team, led by CEO Matthew Drake, has worked diligently and openly with the environmental groups, local property owners, the Oregon congressional delegation and CRAG Law to advocate the land exchange.
The Oregonian referenced two recent letters sent to the USFS urging them to move the deal forward.
- Congressman Earl Blumenauer and Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley penned a joint letter June 30 telling Forest Service chief Tom Tidwell, "Any further delay is absolutely unacceptable." Read the Letter
- July 1 letter from Hood River Residents' Committee Director Heather Staten warning, "we are beginning to feel that legal action is our only option." Read the Letter