Editorial: Sensible Support
“Two Democrats and one incumbent Republican are seeking to represent the 59th state House district in the May primary.
The district, which covers Deschutes, Jefferson, Wasco and Wheeler counties, is currently represented by Republican Daniel Bonham.
Arlene Burns, who is the mayor of a small town in the Columbia River Gorge named Mosier, and Tyler Gabriel, who is listed as self-employed in candidate filings, are the two Democrats vying for the party’s nomination this May.”
Friends of the Gorge
“”I moved to the Columbia Gorge in 1994, when I bought my house in Mosier. I’ve come and gone a lot and in fact, in the 1990s I worked for Friends of the Columbia Gorge as their first field representative. Later, I left to run the Telluride Mountain Film Festival in Colorado and Blue Ocean Film Festival in Monterey, CA. But the Gorge has always pulled me back. It is just…gorgeous!
“From the start I was just blown away, as everyone is, by the magnificent beauty of the place and also the juxtaposition between rain forest and desert. To be in a place that is a national scenic area that you can actually live in, it’s like living in a national park in a way. And that we have access, reasonable access, to a good domestic and international airport means that we really have everything we could possibly need nearby. Yet, because of the crazy weather conditions here, this is not for everyone as a place to live. So, it keeps us a little more isolated because Mother Nature has the last word in the conversation. I think most people that live here love the Gorge fiercely and feel a responsibility to nurture and protect this beauty.”
Columbia Riverkeepers, March 23 2020
By Mario Mijares, Community Organizer
“Less than a month ago feels like a lifetime ago. On March 5, 2020, I joined students from the University of Portland’s Environmental Justice Immersion Group on a field trip to Mosier, OR, to learn about how a small town found the strength to turn an oil-by-rail catastrophe into activism.
I was deeply moved by the words of Mayor Arlene Burns. Here’s where her story began: On Friday June 3, 2016, a unit train hauling Bakken crude oil from North Dakota derailed less than 350 feet away from an elementary school. Rusty lag bolts that hold down train tracks eventually weakened causing 16 oil train cars to derail. Forty-two thousand gallons of oil spilled and ignited, causing explosions.”
And click here for a video produced of the immersion experience. Arlene is featured at 3:35
“No other municipality exemplifies how big of an impact even the very smallest of towns can have when they are dedicated to making a difference better than the town of Mosier, Oregon…
Mosier has continued to be active at the state level — Mayor Burns often testifies for state legislation that will protect the Oregonian environment from the dangers of fossil fuels, and particularly crude oil, and has been very successful in doing so.”
Gorge Tourism Summit 2020 panel on the affect of short term housing on the region
Natural Resources Defense Council
by Lora Shinn, September 30, 2019
The fossil fuel industry maintains a strong presence in the Pacific Northwest thanks to its international export activity. But ever since a dangerous rail accident in 2016, local residents have served as a fierce check on its growth.
A cluster of pick-your-own cherry orchards beckons visitors to the town of Mosier, Oregon, each summer. The town is about 70 miles east of Portland in what’s known as the “dry side” of the Eastern Columbia Gorge. It’s a quiet life for Mosier’s 452 residents, whose hill homes sit between steep peaks climbing to nearby Mount Hood and the rail tracks lining the Columbia River. Quiet, that is, except when the freight trains barrel through.
It’s June, and I’m in Mosier with the town’s mayor, Arlene Burns. Cherry season has just begun, but I’m here to visit the site where, three years ago, a 96-car Union Pacific train carrying highly volatile Bakken crude oil derailed, setting off a massive blaze.
Burns is a petite woman with blue eyes the color of the Columbia. Her voice is only slightly roughened by the late nights and speeches and negotiations concerning the threat that transporting crude oil by rail poses to her town.
At the site, Burns points out the Mosier Manor Mobile Home Community beyond the hill just above, which narrowly escaped the blaze. Maples, fir, and oaks once stood here next to the tracks. Now the strip is barren—a dry, rocky pit awaiting restoration by Union Pacific.
In Honolulu with Climate Mayors in June 2019