Judge thwarts White Salmon development

The ruling could have positive effects on Eden Creek and other White Salmon River area sites.

The ruling could have positive effects on Eden Creek and other White Salmon River area sites.

A Washington Superior Court judge has ruled that the proposed rezoning of 1,000 acres in Klickitat County is unconstitutional.

The Clark County Superior Court decision marks a victory for environmental groups, including Friends of the White Salmon River and Friends of the Columbia Gorge, that argued rezoning the river-area land would have promoted sprawl and and threatened native fish.

Klickitat County's Husum BZ Corner project would have added homes and other projects just across the Columbia from Hood River.

The decision comes a year after the Condit Dam on the White Salmon River was removed, a move celebrated by both environmental groups.

Superior Court Judge Barbara Johnson wrote that Klickitat County officials failed to prepare an environmental impact statement for the proposal, meaning that it "failed to adequately consider a reasonable range of alternatives (and) failed to consider adverse impacts."

Rick Till, a conservation legal advocate with Portland-based Friends of the Columbia Gorge, said the decision protects one of the region's natural gems.

"The removal of Condit Dam freed the waters and brought back salmon to the Wild & Scenic

river corridor," Till said in a release. "The county turned a blind eye to this progress and sought to increase development on lands near key White Salmon River tributaries with the highest quality spawning habitats, as well as the newly restored section. We are thrilled to now have a fresh opportunity to work with the Yakama Nation, the Forest Service, the local community and engage with the county to protect this truly remarkable river.”

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