For Immediate Release, July 10, 2012
Contact: Brent Foster, (541) 380-1334
Lawsuit Launched Against Developer Robert Naito and City of Hood River
Aims to Protect Salmon From Sprawling Project
HOOD RIVER, Ore.— To protect salmon and preserve broad public access to the Columbia River, opponents of a controversial waterfront project planned by Portland developer Robert Naito announced today they intend to sue the development company and the city of Hood River. Friends of the Hood River Waterfront has been joined by the Center for Biological Diversity, one of the nation’s leading advocates for endangered species, in filing formal notices of intent to sue under the federal Endangered Species Act to save salmon runs at risk from the new construction.
Through his development company NBW Hood River, Naito is seeking to build a sprawling waterfront development that includes a 50,000-square-foot Hampton Inn, 20,000 square feet of commercial space and a 230-space parking lot. Naito also wants to build a motorized wakeboarding park that would include large crane-like structures and a network of metal cables in a section of the Columbia River known as the “boat basin.” This is the first such project planned in Oregon’s waters. In addition to affecting 11 runs of threatened and endangered species, including Chinook and steelhead salmon, the 10-acre wakeboard facility, which would be regulated under the state’s amusement park regulations, would shut out kayakers, windsurfers, triathlon swimmers and standup paddle boarders who currently use the area.
“The city of Hood River approved this project last night without any real look at what the storm-water pollution from the parking lot or impacts on wetlands would be,” said Hood River resident Linda Maddox, co-chair of Friends of the Hood River Waterfront. “When you have fishing families struggling with low salmon runs and millions being spent on salmon recovery, it’s frankly embarrassing to see the city have such a cavalier attitude toward salmon.”
“The city and the developer have gone forward as if the federal Endangered Species Act and the critical habitat designation for the Columbia River did not exist,” said environmental attorney Brent Foster, who filed the notice with Portland attorney Erin Madden with Cascadia Law P.C. “I don’t think anyone would try a project like this in Portland, and they shouldn’t get away with it out in the Gorge either.”
“It’s incredible that a developer who likes to talk about green development would propose putting such a major development in important salmon habitat without even the most basic protections for water quality or fish,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The idea that you could put up a new commercial building in a key salmon area in the Columbia River isn’t realistic.”
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 375,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild place