The Impact of Tourism to The Gorge’s Economy

This report from an Oregon state economist talks about the impact of travel to our local economy.  It appeared originally on the East Cascades regional report page of the Oregon Employment Department web site.

In 2014,  travel impacts in Wasco County produced $102.4 million in 2014 spending, an increase of $12.1 million, or 13.4 percent, in one year. These are direct travel impacts and do not include secondary (indirect or induced) impacts Travel spending in Wasco County supported 1,640 jobs and provided $34.4 million in earnings.– according to a report by Dean Runyan Associates www.deanrunyan.com/doc_library/ORImp.pdf.

graphThe Northern portion of Wasco County, primarily represented by The Dalles, brought in $64.9 million in travel spending, or about 63 percent of the 2014 total. South Wasco County – which includes whitewater rafting in Maupin and the Kah-Nee-Ta resort – brought in $37.5 million, or 37 percent.

Overnight travel produced Wasco County’s greatest impact, with $65.2 million in 2014 visitor spending. Overnight visitor volume climbed to 107,500 person-nights, an increase of 8.9 percent. Day travel also produced significant impacts, with 39,100 person-trips in 2014, and $33.2 million in visitor spending. Wasco County Hotel/Motel visitors spent $281 per day/travel party, or $115 per person/day in 2014.

Wasco County’s 2014 travel spending generated 1,090 jobs in accommodation and food services, followed by arts, entertainment and recreation with 410, and retail trade with 110.

Travel spending also produces tax receipts, with $0.9 million for local Wasco County coffers in 2014 and $2.6 million in state taxes.

Travel spending in Gilliam County totaled $4.2 million in 2014, generating 50 jobs. Sherman County’s travel spending also produced 50 jobs in 2014, with travel receipts reaching $4.8 million. In Wheeler County travel impacts generated $2.8 million in spending and 30 travel related jobs.

Travel spending in 2014 totaled $193.1 million in the Columbia Gorge region. Nearly 70 percent of the region’s 2014 travel spending came from overnight sources, which brought in $134.3 million. Hotel/Motel led overnight travel spending sources in 2014, with $100.4 million or 52 percent of all travel spending. Private homes ($15.7 million), campgrounds ($14.8 million) and vacation homes ($3.5 million) together represented 17.6 percent the Columbia Gorge’s 2014 travel spending. Day travel brought in $58.8 million travel dollars nearly 31 percent of the Columbia Gorge’s 2014 total.

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Why I Love 4-H!

One of the privileges of living in rural America is a trip to the local county fair. The fair is one of those traditions that probably hasn’t changed too much over the years—moms pushing strollers, followed by one or more little kids, and usually a husband in cowboy boots tagging further behind, just looking around nonchalantly at all the displays. The smells, sounds, and tastes of the fair are probably the same as they were 100 years ago
County Fairs represent so much of what is special, good and different about strong rural communities—kids enjoy the fruits of their 4-H labors, we celebrate farming, small town life, small local businesses, and old-fashioned homemaking skills that have all but disappeared from most of modern society.

But what has changed is 4H. Not the values it teaches, but what it offers. No longer are all the 4 H projects in the livestock barns. There are sewing clubs and ones that focus on domestic skills. There are science based projects in 4-H. They include Geology, Entomology, Forestry, Astronomy and Robotics to name a few. There are also art projects and dog obedience.

The variety of projects that 4-H has to offer these days reflects changing times and interests, but what hasn’t changed are its values and core mission. I saw this quote on the Yes We Can! Site and I think it sums up 4-H perfectly. “4-H isn’t just about showing livestock. It’s about kids learning to become self-sufficient to grow into tomorrow’s leaders.” Wow! Think about that the next time you go to a local fair. Those kids decided on a project (some of them very large) and saw it through to the end. They didn’t get discouraged when things didn’t go right, they adapted, they changed their plans and they saw the project through to the end. These are skills that will benefit these kids for their entire lives.

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The Community of Threshing

This weekend’s Threshing Bee gives folks a glimpse into the past. Back in the old days, threshing grain was an important community event, a time when neighbors got together to help each other with the harvest and at the same time enjoy working together. The threshing machine moved from farm to farm in the neighborhood, staying long enough at each place to thresh that neighbor’s oats, rye, or wheat. In a neighborhood, the grain mostly ripened at the same time, so when the crop was ready for harvest, farmers hitched their teams of horses to grain binders, cut the grain, and then stood the bundles in shocks to dry for a few days to a week or more—hoping that the weather would remain dry as the grain shocks dried.

ThresingThreshing was a social activity. As neighbors worked together, they talked about everything from their crops to the weather and the price of milk and market value of their hogs. When it was mealtime, the work stopped and everyone ate together at the host’s house. It was a time of storytelling and laughter. Threshing brought rural people together and gave their community a oneness and an identity.

Despite the sunup-to-sundown work during the steam-powered threshing era, people felt connected to the land and to their neighbors working alongside them. I don’t think anyone wants to go back to the old ways of harvesting, but honoring that farming heritage and rural values of community connection are ideas we can use today.

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Support Farmer’s Markets

vegetablesFrom enjoying produce at the peak of freshness to meeting the people who grow your food, there are countless reasons to support farmers markets. From the farmers at CUESA, here are just a few!

1. Taste Real Flavors
The fruits and vegetables you buy at the farmers market are the freshest and tastiest available. Fruits are allowed to ripen fully in the field and are brought directly to you—no long-distance shipping, no gassing to simulate the ripening process, no sitting for weeks in storage. This food is as real as it gets—fresh from the farm.

2. Support Family Farmers
Family farmers need your support. Buying directly from farmers gives them a better return for their produce and gives them a fighting chance in today’s globalized economy.

3. Protect the Environment
Food in the U.S. travels an average of 1,500 miles to get to your plate. All this shipping uses large amounts of natural resources (especially fossil fuels), contributes to pollution, and creates trash with extra packaging. Food at the farmers market is transported shorter distances and is generally grown using methods that minimize the impact on the earth.

4. Nourish Yourself
Most food found at the farmers market is minimally processed, and many of our farmers go to great lengths to grow the most nutritious produce possible by using sustainable techniques, picking produce right before the market, and growing heirloom varieties.

5. Know Where Your Food Comes From
A regular trip to a farmers market is one of the best ways to connect with where your food comes from. Meeting and talking to farmers is a great opportunity to learn more about how and where food is produced.

6. Connect with Your Community
Wouldn’t you rather shop outside on a sunny day than roll your cart around a grocery store with artificial lights and piped in music? Coming to the farmers market makes shopping a pleasure rather than a chore. The farmers market is a community hub—a place to meet up with your friends, bring your children and experience small town life.

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The Joys of Living in a Small Town

There is an abundance of reasons to live in a small town, and more and more people are moving out of the city to a rural community saying that their reasons to live in a small town started with wanting a slower pace of life, or a better place to bring up their kids. There are some great benefits to living in a city but here are a few reasons to live in a small town.

1. Sense of Community
You may not have the whole town round for dinner once a week, but when there is a crisis – like a fire on a farm or somebody loses their dog– you will be amazed at how the community rallies together to get their fellow townsfolk the help they need.

2. The Stars
There is something really magical and humbling to sit outside under a wide open sky with a carpet of stars. In the country, or small town, you get to have that every single night of your life. Leave the light pollution of the city behind and move to a small town.

3. No Traffic and There is Always Parking
Once you have lived in a small town for a while, you kind of become allergic to traffic, as the only small town traffic you will encounter is a few minute wait at the stop light or sing. And there is always parking outside the grocery store.

8. Everybody Knows You
This may seem like a downside, but it’s a huge plus. Everybody knows where you live and who you are, how many sugars you take in your morning coffee at the café, what days you walk your dog, how many kids you have, what car you drive. You can be sure that your neighbors and friends will know immediately if you are in trouble or if you need help and will rally around you.

If you need extra reasons to live in a small town, then think about a beautiful place to connect with nature. Many people are moving to the countryside for a peaceful life where they can spend time together as a family. What would inspire you to move out of the city?

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Small Town, Big Tradition

Small towns have traditions. For one weekend every July, as the sun goes down over the town of The Dalles, the bright spotlights come up around a dirt arena. The smells of hot dogs, burgers and fresh-popped kettle corn mingle with warm earth, horses and hay. Fans from around the community fill the bleachers at the Milt Tumilson arena in anticipation of a cherished—and valuable—tradition: The Fort Dalles Rodeo. During the event, competitors, spectators and friends will descend on the park for three days of competition, and entertainment; all part of the annual Fort Dalles Days.

Fort Dalles Rodeo Queen, Carsen Cordell and Wally Wolf from the Fort Dalles Rodeo Association

Fort Dalles Rodeo Queen, Carsen Cordell and Wally Wolf from the Fort Dalles Rodeo Association

This year the Fort Dalles ‘Rough and Wild’ Pro Am Rodeo celebrates 50 years. Of course, back then there were no fairgrounds to hold the event. The rodeo was held at the Fort Dalles Riders Association arena off Chenoweth road. In those days, that small parking lot and a small camp trailer provided ample space and an office for the home grown rodeo.

From those humble beginnings, this good ol’ small town event gradually picked up momentum and grew. But despite its coming of age, the rodeo is still, at heart, a local event. It is still very much dependent on local volunteer efforts. It donates a portion of its proceeds to a local charity with its ‘Tough Enough to Wear Pink’ night. There is a sense of community spirit that surrounds this event like no other. It is a celebration of pride and tradition as only a small town can deliver.

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Why We Love Real Estate

“The only way to do great work is to love what you do.”
Steve Jobs

Forbes recently rated real estate brokers as having the happiest jobs in America. They listed reasons such as being your own boss, a flexible schedule, and the diversity of business. But they missed the real reason…it is the people you get to meet and serve. When you realize you’re making someone’s dream come true, and you found your client the house that will be a home to their family, all the long days and challenges of the job don’t seem to matter.

The Sweet Smell of Success!

The Sweet Smell of Success!

It is a great feeling when we help our clients achieve their dreams, whether it’s buying or selling. Real estate is going to be the most expensive investment people make in their lives. So, when we can find a buyers dream home, that is exciting. Or when we can get a fantastic offer on the sale of a seller’s home, we’re in heaven. Nothing is more satisfying than being next to a new home owner or seller at the closing table and seeing a smile on their face because we helped make this process as stress free and exciting as possible for them and everyone involved.

Recently, one of our brokers received a beautiful bouquet of flowers as a thank you gift from a client. A wonderful and thoughtful gesture to mark the successful transaction. But the real gift was at the beginning of the journey; just by choosing her as their agent, they were saying they trust her judgment and know she was going to do right by them. There’s nothing more rewarding than that!

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Have a Blast in The Dalles on the Fourth

What is more American than 4th of July in a small town? Many communities in our area celebrate the holiday, but The Dalles gets it right.

Back in the day, The Dalles was known for its fireworks display. Back then the rockets were launched off The Dalles Dam and the entire community came out to admire the pop and crackle of brightly colored fireworks as they filled the night sky. Now a few visionary community members have galvanized the community of to come together and bring back the tradition. What can I say? I’m a sap for good ol’ small town 4th of July goodness and The Dalles offers plenty.

The celebration kicks off with a James Otto concert and continues on the 4th with a jammed packed day of activities. Starting with a patriotic pancake breakfast, followed by a Rocket Run or yoga to burn off the calories. Then there’s the parade, with a Family Fun Festival with live music and fun stuff to do all day long. But the part that has my attention is the end. Of course it ends the way it should: with a fireworks display. But this isn’t just any pyrotechnical display. According to organizers, the display will feature the largest rockets allowed to be launched in the USA!

Sounds like the perfect way to spend your 4th of July weekend.

Check here for the schedule of events to get more information on the weekend.
Hope y’all have a Happy 4th!

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The Dalles Swimming Pool Opens

It’s easy to get excited about the opening of The Dalles Swimming Pool this weekend. The renovation is a great example of what can be created when people work together.  This exciting project has been a long time in the planning and came to fruition thanks to the dedication of some hardworking and determined locals. The occasion marks a milestone of achievement for this community.

Saturday’s grand opening begins at 1pm and lasts until 4pm. The pool will remain open until 6pm.

The newly completed upmarket facility is a user-friendly pool that has been designed to provide the best of facilities –the latest pool technology and easy accessibility for users. The eight lane, 50 meter pool has something for everyone with a 140 foot water slide, diving board and an aquatic climbing wall. There is a 1,800 foot splash park on the grounds that will be free and open to the public.

There are new, expanded locker rooms, with additional showers added outdoors. The Parks and Recreation offices will be on the second floor of the building.
This is a huge asset for The Dalles area and will be a great gathering place for friends and family alike.

Well done to our community and this wonderful group of volunteers and supporters. We look forward to making the most of this great facility.

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The Hot Topic of Wildfires

It’s that time of the year again.
The season when we are reminded that some of the qualities we most enjoy in the eastern Gorge- our warm, dry climate and beautiful natural landscapes – create potential wildfire conditions.

Fire is a beneficial force in our ecosystem, but it is hard to think about that when a wildfire is burning in our community. We can however take steps to reduce risk of loss to a wildfire. By taking steps to make your property “fire safe,” you can learn to live with fire season.

According to the Oregon Department of Forestry, creating defensible space around your home is the best way to protect your home from wildfire. The first 30 feet surrounding your home is the most critical – and there are some simple actions that homeowners can take to help protect their homes from wildfire that are easy, quick, and relatively inexpensive, such as:
• Removing dead and dying debris – particularly from places that it piles up near the    home such as in gutters and planters, any “valleys” that can catch debris that embers and sparks can blow onto – the most common way for a wildfire to damage or destroy a home
• Storing firewood at least 20 feet away from the home or completely covering it to protect it from those same blowing embers and sparks.
• Properly maintaining the plants that are in the area – pruning, removing dead and dying materials, and keeping them well-watered and green.
• Planting fire-resistant plants in your landscape.
While these steps do not ensure that your home will survive a wildfire, they substantially increase the chances that it will.

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