Columbia River Gorge Compact

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Columbia River Gorge Compact
Columbia River Gorge.jpg
Formation date: 1987
Member jurisdictions: 2
Issue(s): Natural resource management
Compact website
The Columbia River Gorge Compact is an interstate compact between Oregon and Washington. The compact provides for the management of the natural resources of the gorge.

History

In 1986, the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area Act created a scenic area that stretches 85 miles on both the Washington and Oregon sides of the Columbia River. In addition to the area's 55,000 permanent residents, the gorge attracts over 2 million people each year with its landscapes, rare plants, wildlife, recreational opportunities, farmland, ancient Indian art, and other sites of historical and cultural import.[1]

The legislation, in addition to designating these 85 miles a national scenic area, called for the creation of the Columbia River Gorge Commission. The intention was to protect the region's natural resources while allowing for economic growth. A year later, both state adopted legislation enacting the compact.[1]

Governance

The compact officially created the Columbia River Gorge Commission to oversee management of the gorge. The commission is comprised of 13 members: three appointed by each governor, one appointed by each of the six counties surrounding the gorge, and one (non-voting) appointee from the U.S. Forest Service.

The commission is charged with carrying out the provisions of the compact, and does so in a number of ways:

  • sets policy for protecting the non-federal lands in the gorge
  • serves as an appeals board for scenic area land use decisions
  • supports counties and constituents that administer land use ordinances
  • stimulates economic development through grants and loans[2]

Text of the compact

The legislature of each member state passes the laws with certain modifications, but the core of the legislation remains the same.

Article I: Columbia Gorge Commission Established

a. The States of Oregon and Washington establish by way of this interstate compact a regional agency known as the Columbia River Gorge Commission. The commission established in accordance with this compact shall have the power and authority to perform all functions and responsibilities in accordance with the provisions of this compact and of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area Act (the federal Act), which is incorporated by this specific reference in this agreement. The commission's powers shall include, but not be limited to:

  1. The power to sue and be sued.
  2. The power to disapprove a land use ordinance enacted by a county if the ordinance is inconsistent with the management plan, as provided in P.L. 96-663, Sec. 7(b)(3)(B).
  3. The power to enact a land use ordinance setting standards for the use of nonfederal land in a county within the scenic area if the county fails to enact land use ordinances consistent with the management plan, as provided in P.L. 99-663, Sec. 7(c).
  4. According to the provisions of P.L. 99-663, Sec. 10(c), the power to review all proposals for major development action and new residential development in each county in the scenic area, except urban areas, and the power to disapprove such development if the commission finds the development is inconsistent with the purposes of P.L. 99-663.


b. The commission shall appoint and remove or discharge such personnel as may be necessary for the performance of the commission's functions, irrespective of the civil service, personnel or other merit system laws of any of the party states.
c. The commission may establish and maintain, independently or in conjunction with any one or more of the party states, a suitable retirement system for its full-time employees. Employees of the commission shall be eligible for social security coverage in respect of old age and survivors insurance provided that the commission takes such steps as may be necessary pursuant to federal law to participate in such program of insurance as a governmental agency or unit. The commission may establish and maintain or participate in such additional programs of employee benefits as may be appropriate.
d. The commission shall obtain the services of such professional, technical, clerical and other personnel as may be deemed necessary to enable it to carry out its functions under this compact. The commission may borrow, accept, or contract for the services of personnel from any state of the United States or any subdivision or agency thereof, from any interstate agency, or from any institution, person, firm or corporation.
e. Funds necessary to fulfill the powers and duties imposed upon and entrusted to the commission shall be provided as appropriated by the legislatures of the states in accordance with Article IV. The commission may also receive gifts, grants, endowments and other funds from public or private sources as may be made from time to time, in trust or otherwise, for the use and benefit of the purposes of the commission and expend the same or any income therefrom according to the terms of the gifts, grants, endowments or other funds.
f. The commission may establish and maintain such facilities as may be necessary for the transacting of its business. The commission may acquire, hold and convey real and personal property and any interest therein.
g. The commission shall adopt bylaws, rules, and regulations for the conduct of its business, and shall have the power to amend and rescind these bylaws, rules and regulations. The commission shall publish its bylaws, rules and regulations in convenient form and shall file a copy thereof and of any amendment thereto, with the appropriate agency or officer in each of the party states.

Article II: The Commission Membership

a. The commission shall be made up of twelve voting members appointed by the states, as set forth herein, and one non-voting member appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.
b. Each state governor shall appoint the members of the commission as provided in the federal Act (three members who reside in the State of Oregon, including one resident of the scenic area, to be appointed by the Governor of Oregon, and three members who reside in the State of Washington, including one resident of the scenic area, appointed by the Governor of Washington).
c. One additional member shall be appointed by the governing body of each of the respective counties of Clark, Klickitat, and Skamania in Washington, and Hood River, Multnomah, and Wasco in Oregon, provided that in the event the governing body of a county fails to make such an appointment, the Governor of the state in which the county is located shall appoint such a member.
d. The terms of the members and procedure for filling vacancies shall all be as set forth in the federal Act.

Article III: Effective Date of Compact and Commission

This compact shall take effect, and the commission may exercise its authorities pursuant to the compact and pursuant to the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area Act when it has been ratified by both states and upon the appointment of four initial members from each state. The date of this compact shall be the date of the establishment of the commission.

Article IV: Funding

a. The States of Washington and Oregon hereby agree to provide by separate agreement or statute of each state for funding necessary to effectuate the commission, including the establishment of compensation or expenses of commission members from each state which shall be paid by the state of origin.
b. The commission shall submit to the Governor or designated officer or officers of each party state a budget of its estimated expenditures for such period as may be required by the laws of that jurisdiction for presentation to the legislature thereof.
c. Subject to appropriation by their respective legislatures, the commission shall be provided with such funds by each of the party states as are necessary to provide the means of establishing and maintaining facilities, a staff of personnel, and such activities as may be necessary to fulfill the powers and duties imposed upon and entrusted to the commission.
d. The commission's proposed budget and expenditures shall be apportioned equally between the states.
e. The commission shall keep accurate accounts of all receipts and disbursements. The receipts and disbursements of the commission shall be subject to the audit and accounting procedures established under its bylaws. However, all receipts and disbursements of funds handled by the commission shall be audited yearly by the appropriate state auditing official and the report of the audit shall be included in and become a part of the annual report of the commission.
f. The accounts of the commission shall be open at any reasonable time for inspection by the public.

Article V: Severability

If any provision of this compact, or its application to any person or circumstance, is held to be invalid, all other provisions of this compact, and the application of all of its provisions to all other persons and circumstances, shall remain valid, and to this end the provisions of this compact are severable.

See also

External links

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References