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Hood River embraces the new sandbar

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Friday, February 01, 2008

HoodRiverDelta.jpg
This aerial of the Hood River sandbar was taken a year ago. The event site is on the right.

HOOD RIVER We forget in the face of this year’s rampaging storms that there was another whopper last winter that created an instant island at the mouth of Hood River. The storm-churned delta threatened riverfront development, the well-being of the area’s wind recreation industry and generally whipped up the locals.

But a year later, the once-dreaded delta has emerged as the premier kiteboarding venue on the West Coast, according to Michael McElwee, executive director of the Port of Hood River. It’s big, broad and sandy, with good access, and it helped make the past year a record one for the event site, McElwee says. Until the storm, the port-owned spit, used by kiteboarders, and the event site, used by windsurfers, were separate areas. The predicted feud between the wind jockeys never happened, with the two groups creating a collaborative and self-enforced management of the delta area.

Instead of being detrimental, the delta has become a significant asset. “What a gift from Mother Nature,” McElwee says.

In addition, Naito Development is moving ahead with its plan for 50 condos at Nichols Boat Basin, McElwee says. Last year, Bob Naito said without the marina portion of the planned project, stalled because the delta clogged the basin, he wasn’t sure the project would continue.

And off the delta, riverfront news also perks, with the likelihood of Full Sail Brewing leasing a large portion of the expo center for its corporate offices, a new plan for the expansion of Hood River Marina nearing approval (which includes 20 new slips by summer) and continued enhancement of the event site.                     

ROBIN DOUSSARD


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