Conservation groups are suing Klickitat County over potential development they argue could damage sensitive habitat along the White Salmon River.
The Friends of the Columbia Gorge and Friends of the White Salmon River contend the county should have done an in-depth analysis, called an environmental impact statement, for the zoning plan. The county relied on a handful of studies to conclude the environmental effects from the zoning plan were minimal, that it therefore didn't require an EIS.
Rick Till with Friends of the Columbia Gorge says the changes would undermine improvements from breaching the nearby Condit Dam.
"With Condit Dam coming out, salmon are returning to the White Salmon River for the first time in 100 years," Till says. "And they’re looking to re-zone the lands adjacent to that salmon habitat for higher density residential use. And that’s likely to lead to harm to that salmon habitat, and upland habitats."
Klickitat County officials didn’t respond to an email requesting comment.
The dispute over what’s called the "Husum-BZ Corner subarea plan" has raged for years, though the county settled some differences recently with the Yakama Nation.