Mount Hood's unique economy

| Print |  Email
Articles - June 2011
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
That’s the kind of economic paradox that is likely to continue creating tension around the mountain into the future as more people come to the region, escape to the mountain and rely on its resources. The mountain’s wild beauty and its magnetic pull are at once its greatest attributes and its greatest perils. Were it not the grand mountain that it is, if it did not have its iconic profile, its historic lodge and lingering ski season, its towering forests, crystalline waters and rich volcanic soils, there would be no 4.5 million visitors spending hundreds of millions of dollars here every year, no orchard industry, no snowboard camps.

And yet, the more people who come to the area to live or even visit, the more the mountain and its resources are taxed. Timberline’s mountain bike park, for example, could generate an estimated $1 million in visitor spending every year, which would boost  the local economy. But conservation groups oppose it, citing potential environmental damage and increased traffic and noise at the lodge. Similar tensions will likely arise whenever new development or transportation upgrades visit the mountain as well.

For more than 100 years now, Mount Hood’s recreation, tourism, agriculture and natural resources have coalesced into a unique economy tied directly to the mountain and its surrounding environment. It is an economy that has a reach far beyond the mountain itself, from the Bull Run water serving the Oregon Zoo — and its 1.5 million annual visitors — to the Hood River pears that end up in Russia and Taiwan and the international snowboarding teams that practice at Timberline in the summer. It is an economy challenged by weather, geography and the tenuous balance between growth and conservation, extraction and preservation. And it is an economy — and a mountain — that will continue to shape and texture an entire region.

0611_MountainEcon_Author01About the author: An Ohio native, Jon Bell had never seen Mount Hood until he moved to Oregon in 1997. Once he did, however, he quickly found himself drawn to the mountain. Since then he’s climbed it, hiked it, camped on it, kind of learned to ski on it and otherwise become acquainted with the state’s signature peak. “Everyone I know out here has some kind of a connection with Mount Hood,” he says, “It has such a huge presence and influence.” A graduate of Michigan State University, Bell is a regular contributor to Oregon Business. His work has also 0611_MountainEcon_Author02appeared in publications such as Backpacker, The Oregonian and Oregon Coast. His book, On Mount Hood (Sasquatch Books, $22.95) is out this month.

Jon Bell will be a guest June 10 on OPB Radio's  Think Out Loud as part of their "Mt. Hood Inc." series. It will broadcast in front of a live audience at Timberline Lodge from 9-10 a.m.


 

More Articles

Photo Diary: Forest Grove Farmers Market

The Latest
Thursday, May 14, 2015
IMG 8469BY JASON E. KAPLAN | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

There are more than 160 farmers markets in Oregon, contributing an estimated $50 million in sales, according to the Oregon Farmers Markets Association. We checked in on the Forest Grove market, which for several years has brought local produce and food vendors to Main Street in the center of town.


Read more...

Destination Resorts 2.0

June 2015
Friday, May 22, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER | PHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

As the recession recedes and tourism grows, Central Oregon resorts redefine themselves for a new generation.


Read more...

Modern design defines new Portland indoor market

The Latest
Thursday, June 25, 2015
thumbSnøhetta JBPM exterior www mir noBY KIM MOORE | RESEARCH EDITOR

An international architecture firm known for its design of the National September 11 Memorial Museum Pavilion in New York unveiled its plan this week for a modern indoor/outdoor food market at the foot of the Morrison Bridge in downtown Portland.


Read more...

Nine lives

Linda Baker
Friday, May 22, 2015
0f4f7bfBY LINDA BAKER | EDITOR

Roy Kaufmann always lands on his feet.


Read more...

Frothy Battle

June 2015
Friday, May 22, 2015
BY ROBERT MULLIN

Latest development in Nestlé plant saga sparks debate about the value of water.


Read more...

Hall of Flame

June 2015
Friday, May 22, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER

A Power Lunch at Oswego Grill.


Read more...

The 5 highest revenue-generating parks in Oregon

The Latest
Thursday, June 11, 2015
parksthumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

In 2014, total revenue for camping and day use in Oregon State Parks was a little more than $17 million. That figure may even higher this year "because we've had exceptionally nice weather," Hughes says.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS