Agreement on rest area shows local leadership

Now, help is needed from state's lawmakers

OK, everyone can breathe a big sigh of relief - for now. What looked like an inevitable closure of the Government Camp rest area - its closure was scheduled for Oct. 31 - was reversed recently with an eleventh-hour agreement that will keep the facility operational at least through March 2012.

We are grateful for the teamwork that produced this partnership, which will allow the extra time needed to hammer out a long-term solution. And we are equally grateful to the leadership that came from Sen. Chuck Thomsen and Rep. Mark Johnson at making this happen.

The partnership between Oregon Travel Experience, Clackamas County Tourism, the U.S. Forest Service and Oregon Department of Transportation will provide short-term funding and staffing.

Of course, everyone knows by now that the Oregon Department of Transportation set its sights on closing the Government Camp rest area as it made plans to reduce the region's maintenance budget by $1.8 million.

That being said, in order to keep the rest area open beyond March 2012, any plan will depend upon the Oregon Legislature providing a stable source of funding. That means lawmakers will have a short time to find the money once they convene in February.

We know this one little rest area on Mount Hood is not the largest issue facing the Legislature. And we also are painfully aware that cost reductions are the norm in Oregon government as the state grapples with near double-digit unemployment and declining state revenues.

But because this is the only public rest stop between Sandy and Madras, we don't want to see this public service disappear. The alternative is to close the rest stop and eliminate a safe place for motorists to stop for a break along what can be a treacherous stretch of highway.