ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
Opportunities to enhance Marion County’s economic well-being don’t exactly grow on trees-or in wheat fields, for that matter. But one of our best possibilities for growth lies between the cities of Hillsboro and Marion. Only in relatively recent times, thanks to the efforts of park manager Terry Holt, have we realized the economic impact Marion Reservoir already has had in the county, and how much promise it holds for the future. (See story, Page 1.)
If we had our druthers, we’d accept a check for the $4 million in federal funds it would take to pay for the modernization project at Cottonwood Point, which is already one of the most lucrative parks, per-campsite, in the Corps of Engineers national system. Currently, the park can handle only about 30 percent of the demand.
Given federal spending priorities-and, frankly, the lack of political muscle among our state’s relatively new legislators-it doesn’t appear that a huge bundle of bucks will be heading our way anytime soon. But there is hope for short-range help. Legislation has been drafted that would return the fees collected at our nation’s reservoirs to the reservoirs that collect them. Currently, those fees are sent to the general pot in Washington and are never seen again-at least not in ways that obviously benefit our reservoir.
The Marion County Economic Development Council has rightly decided to focus on outdoor recreation as its priority concern in 2002. That’s a good choice, and organizing county-wide support to lobby for legislation that could enhance the reservoir ought to be Job One on the list. We encourage the MCEDC to be aggressive in this task. Success on this front would be a feather in its cap-and more than a few tourism dollars in all of our pockets. -DR