40.240.890 General Management Areas Recreation Resource Review Criteria

The following uses may be allowed within designated recreation intensity classifications, as delineated on the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area Management Plan Recreation Intensity Classifications map, subject to compliance with Sections 40.240.890(D) and (E).

A.    Recreation Intensity Class 1 – Very Low Intensity.

1.    Parking areas for a maximum of ten (10) cars for any allowed uses in Recreation Intensity Class 1;

2.    Trails for hiking, equestrian and mountain biking use;

3.    Pathways for pedestrian and bicycling use;

4.    Trailheads (with provisions for hitching rails and equestrian trailers at trailheads accommodating equestrian use);

5.    Scenic viewpoints and overlooks;

6.    Wildlife/botanical viewing and nature study areas;

7.    River access areas;

8.    Simple interpretive signs and/or displays, not to exceed a total of fifty (50) square feet;

9.    Entry name signs not to exceed ten (10) square feet per sign;

10.    Boat docks, piers or wharves;

11.    Picnic areas; and

12.    Restrooms/comfort facilities.

B.    Recreation Intensity Class 2 – Low Intensity.

1.    All uses permitted in Recreation Intensity Class 1;

2.    Parking areas for a maximum of twenty-five (25) cars, including spaces for campground units, to serve any allowed uses in Recreation Intensity Class 2;

3.    Simple interpretive signs and displays, not to exceed a total of one hundred (100) square feet;

4.    Entry name signs not to exceed twenty (20) square feet per sign;

5.    Boat ramps, not to exceed two (2) lanes; and

6.    Campgrounds for twenty (20) units or less, tent sites only.

C.    Recreation Intensity Class 3 – Moderate Intensity.

1.    All uses permitted in Recreation Intensity Classes 1 and 2;

2.    Parking areas for a maximum of seventy-five (75) cars, including spaces for campground units, for any allowed uses in Recreation Intensity Class 3;

3.    Interpretive signs, displays and/or facilities;

4.    Visitor information and environmental education signs, displays or facilities;

5.    Entry name signs not to exceed thirty-two (32) square feet per sign;

6.    Boat ramps, not to exceed three (3) lanes;

7.    Concessions stands, pursuant to applicable policies in Chapter 4, Part I of the Management Plan; and

8.    Campgrounds for fifty (50) individual units or less for tents and/or recreational vehicles, with a total density of no more than ten (10) units per acre (density to be measured based on total size of recreation facility and may include required buffer and setback areas). Class 3 campgrounds may also include one (1) group campsite area, in addition to the individual campground units or parking area maximums allowed as described herein.

D.    Approval Criteria for Recreation Uses.

    All proposed recreation projects outside of Public Recreation zones shall comply with Sections 40.240.800 through 40.240.900, and shall satisfy the following:

1.    Cumulative effects of proposed recreation projects on landscape settings shall be based on the “compatible recreation use” guideline for the landscape setting in which the use is located.

2.    For proposed recreation projects in or adjacent to lands zoned Gorge Large-Scale or Small-Scale Agriculture, or Gorge Small Woodland:

a.    The use would not seriously interfere with accepted forest or agricultural practices on surrounding lands devoted to forest or farm uses. Provision of on-site buffers may be used to partially or fully comply with this criterion, depending upon project design and/or site conditions.

b.    A declaration has been signed by the project applicant or owner and recorded with county deeds and records specifying that the applicant or owner is aware that operators are entitled to carry on accepted forest or farm practices on lands zoned Gorge Large-Scale or Small-Scale Agriculture or Gorge Small Woodland.

3.    For proposed projects including facilities for outdoor fires for cooking or other purposes or proposed campgrounds: The project applicant shall demonstrate that a sufficient quantity of water necessary for fire suppression (as determined pursuant to applicable fire codes or the county fire marshal) is readily available to the proposed facility, either through connection to a community water system or on-site wells, storage tanks, sumps, ponds or similar storage devices. If connection to a community water system is proposed, the project applicant shall demonstrate that the water system has adequate capacity to meet the facility’s emergency fire suppression needs without adversely affecting the remainder of the water system with respect to fire suppression capabilities. In addition, in order to provide access for fire-fighting equipment, access drives shall be constructed to a minimum of twelve (12) feet in width and a maximum grade of twelve percent (12%). Access drives shall be maintained to a level that is passable to fire-fighting equipment.

4.    Trail or trailhead projects shall comply with applicable trails policies in the Management Plan.

5.    For proposed projects providing boating or windsurfing access to the Columbia River or its tributaries: Compliance with applicable “River Access and Protection of Treaty Rights” objectives in the Management Plan.

6.    For proposed projects on public lands or proposed projects providing access to the Columbia River or its tributaries: Compliance with guidelines for protection of tribal treaty rights in Part IV, Chapter 3, Indian Tribal Treaty Rights and Consultation in the Management Plan.

7.    For proposed projects which include interpretation of natural or cultural resources: A demonstration that the interpretive facilities will not adversely affect natural or cultural resources and that appropriate and necessary resource protection measures shall be employed.

E.    Facility Design Guidelines for All Recreation Projects.

1.    Recreation facilities which are not resource-based in nature may be included at sites providing resource-based recreation uses consistent with the guidelines contained herein, as long as such facilities comprise no more than one third (1/3) of the total land area dedicated to recreation uses and/or facilities. Required landscaped buffers may be included in calculations of total land area dedicated to recreation uses and/or facilities.

2.    The facility design guidelines contained herein are intended to apply to individual recreation facilities. For the purposes of these guidelines, a recreation facility is considered a cluster or grouping of recreational developments or improvements located in relatively close proximity to one another. To be considered a separate facility from other developments or improvements within the same recreation intensity class, recreation developments or improvements must be separated by at least one-quarter (1/4) mile of undeveloped land (excluding trails, pathways, or access roads).

3.    Parking areas, access roads, and campsites shall be sited and designed to fit into the existing natural contours as much as possible, both to minimize ground-disturbing grading activities and utilize topography to screen parking areas and associated structures. Parking areas, access roads, and campsites shall be sited and set back sufficiently from bluffs so as to be visually subordinate as seen from key viewing areas.

4.    Existing vegetation, particularly mature trees, shall be maintained to the maximum extent practicable, and utilized to screen parking areas and campsites from key viewing areas and satisfy requirements for perimeter and interior landscaped buffers.

5.    Parking areas providing over fifty (50) spaces shall be divided into discrete “islands” separated by unpaved, landscaped buffer areas.

6.    Lineal frontage of parking areas and campsite loops to scenic travel corridors shall be minimized to the greatest extent practicable.

7.    Ingress/egress points shall be consolidated to the maximum extent practicable, providing for adequate emergency access pursuant to applicable fire and safety codes.

8.    Signage shall be limited to that necessary to provide relevant recreation or facility information, interpretive information, vehicular and pedestrian direction, and for safety purposes.

9.    Exterior lighting shall be shielded, designed and sited in a manner which prevents such lighting from projecting off-site or being highly visible from key viewing areas.

10.    Innovative designs and materials which reduce visual impacts (such as “turf blocks” instead of conventional asphalt paving) shall be encouraged through incentives such as additional allowable parking spaces and reduce required minimum interior or perimeter landscaped buffers. Upon determination that potential visual impacts have been substantially reduced by use of such designs and materials, the responsible official may allow either reductions in required minimum interior or perimeter landscape buffers up to fifty percent (50%) of what would otherwise be required, or additional parking spaces not to exceed ten percent (10%) of what would otherwise be permitted.

11.    A majority of trees, shrubs and other plants in landscaped areas shall be species native or naturalized to the landscape setting in which they occur (landscape setting design guidelines specify lists of appropriate species).

12.    All structures shall be designed such that height, exterior colors, reflectivity, mass and siting result in the structures blending with and not noticeably contrasting with their setting.

13.    Landscape buffers around the perimeter of parking areas accommodating more than ten (10) vehicles shall be provided. Minimum required widths are five (5) feet for twenty (20) vehicles or less, twenty (20) feet for fifty (50) vehicles or less, thirty (30) feet for one hundred (100) vehicles or less, and forty (40) feet for two hundred fifty (250) vehicles or less.

14.    Interior landscaped buffers breaking up continuous areas of parking shall be provided for any parking areas over fifty (50) spaces in size. The minimum width of interior landscaped buffers between each parking lot of fifty (50) spaces or less shall be twenty (20) feet.

15.    Within required perimeter and interior landscaped buffer areas, a minimum of one (1) tree of at least six (6) feet in height shall be planted for every ten (10) lineal feet as averaged for the entire perimeter width. A minimum of twenty-five percent (25%) of planted species in perimeter buffers shall be coniferous to provide screening during the winter. Project applicants are encouraged to place such trees in random groupings approximating natural conditions. In addition to the required trees, landscaping shall include appropriate shrubs, groundcover and other plant materials.

16.    Minimum required perimeter landscape buffer widths for parking areas or campgrounds may be reduced by as much as fifty percent (50%), at the discretion of the responsible official, if existing vegetation stands and/or existing topography are utilized such that the development is not visible from any key viewing area.

17.    Grading or soil compaction within the drip line of existing mature trees shall be avoided to the maximum extent practicable, to reduce risk of root damage and associated tree mortality.

18.    All parking areas and campsites shall be set back from scenic travel corridors, and the Columbia River and its major tributaries at least one hundred (100) feet. Required perimeter landscaped buffers may be included when calculating such setbacks. Setbacks from rivers shall be measured from the ordinary high water mark. Setbacks from scenic travel corridors shall be measured from the edge of road pavements.

19.    Project applicants shall utilize measures and equipment necessary for the proper maintenance and survival of all vegetation utilized to meet the landscape guidelines contained herein, and shall be responsible for such maintenance and survival.

20.    All parking areas shall be set back from property boundaries by at least fifty (50) feet. All campsites and associated facilities shall be set back from property boundaries by at least one hundred (100) feet.

(Amended: Ord. 2006-05-04)