Oregon court backs Gorge air quality study

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The Oregon Court of Appeals this week affirmed the approach of a broad study of air quality in the Columbia River Gorge. The ruling backs a decade-long effort by the Columbia River Gorge Commission and its partners in both Washington and Oregon.

The long-term study aims to form a definitive plan for measuring and ultimately improving air quality in and around the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. U.S. Forest Service officials had called for an evaluation as early as 1991, according to the commission.

The study combines the efforts of both states, the commission, native tribes, the forest service and Gorge communities. Scientists involved have emphasized the importance of a regional approach focused on improving air quality within the Gorge and surrounding areas.

Friends of the Columbia Gorge, petitioners in the court case, had argued that the air quality strategy should include more Gorge-specific regulations, according to the commission. But the court ultimately ruled in the commission's favor.