Agriculture and related food
processing businesses are two of the principal industries of Hood
River County. The primary natural resource is the fertile farm land
of the Hood River Valley, an area including more than 14,000 acres
of commercial apple, cherry, pear and peach orchards. Along with
other agriculture, orchard crops, provide much of the county's
economic base.1 More than 30% of the
United States' winter pears are grown here, as are over 11% of the
nation's Bartlett pears.
In addition to
providing over 40% of personal income in Hood
River County, agriculture provides a life style and values esteemed
by many residents. Hood River farms and ranches tend to be
family-oriented, often showing generations of family ownership.
These small farms and ranches contribute to the sense of community
in the Valley.
During the public hearings of
January, 2003, Meadows North LLC consistently belittled the
importance and value of agriculture to the valley, downplaying one
of the stated goals of the state land use plan, to protect
Goal 8 of the
state land use planning guidelines lay out a framework of conditions
which must be met in order for a destination resort to be eligible
for siting in an area where it would otherwise prohibited. Some of
these conditions are cut-and-dried, but other conditions are not so
clearly defined. Definitions are important because they determine
how eligibility maps are drawn.
There are a
number of errors, assumptions and mis-calculations in the current
mapping process, but one of the most obvious concerns the way the
farms in the valley were counted. The folks doing the mapping
inadvertently counted FIELDS as farms. This is a problem, as
farms don't even enter into the equation if they are less than 20
acres. Many farmers in the valley don't
have consolidated holdings; a FIELD that is 15 acres, and
a FIELD that is 17 acres, and a FIELD that is 8 acres many all
be part of one farm. Under the current map, that farm would not be
counted, because none of the fields was individually large enough to
count. There are over 100 farms in the valley that were left off of
the agricultural survey because of this error.
farm value and crops were not computed properly, further skewing the
boundaries of the area determined to be eligible for resort siting.
1 Columbia Gorge Economic Development Association: