The answers you want

Columbia River Gorge Commission

Frequently Asked Questions

The National Scenic Area is a complex landscape, subject to a very unique set of policy and planning requirements. The Commission strives to support landowners, land managers, and scenic area users to better understand these complexities and their implications for land use decisions.

Click on the Frequently Asked Questions below for general guidance and additional resources on specific topics of interest.  


Land Use/Property

How do I know if my land is in the Scenic Area?

Visit our GIS & Mapping page to find out if your property is located in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. If you live in Clark, Skamania, Multnomah, Hood River, or Wasco Counties, you can also contact your local county planning office for more information.

What does it mean if my property is located inside the Scenic Area?

Most new land uses and ground disturbing activities will require a permit from your county planning department. Depending on what county you are located in, the process may vary. If you are located in Klickitat County, permits must first be obtained from the Gorge Commission and then from the Klickitat County Building Department - before construction activities take place. If you are located in one of the other five counties in the Scenic Area, then your proposal would be reviewed by their office for consistency with the county regulations as well as the Scenic Area guidelines at the same time. Gorge Commission staff are able to make comments on applications received by the other counties, but the decisions are ultimately made by the individual county departments.


How do I start designing a project, knowing that there are special rules that I may have to apply?

First, you can download our Building in the Scenic Area Handbook below for a complete guide on how to get started. We also recommend meeting with a planner before you design your project.
Building in the Scenic Area Handbook


How do I determine zoning or land use designation of a parcel?

Contact your county for zoning information about a specific parcel. If the property is located in Klickitat County, you can contact the Gorge Commission office to get zoning information.
Links & Resources


What rules apply to my property?

The Scenic Area has rules that determine the zoning of the land, the uses allowed in that zone, and rules that protect scenic, cultural, natural and recreational resources. To determine what uses are allowed on your property, you first need to determine the Land Use Designation or zoning of your land. The first step in answering this question is to determine what land use designation is assigned to your property (e.g. GMA F-3 (20) = General Management Area Small Woodland, with a 20 acre minimum parcel size). You can obtain your zoning information from the county planning departments by clicking here. Land Use Designations do not follow taxlot boundaries, so you may have more than one Land Use Designation on your property. Once you have identified the zoning of your property, refer to the applicable land use ordinance for your county. If you are in Klickitat County, click here. The ordinance should contain a list of uses allowed outright, a list of uses eligible for the expedited review process and a list of review uses for your land use designation. If you do not see your proposal within the list of allowed uses, please contact your county planning department for assistance.The siting and design of your project may be influenced by the resource protection policies described in Part I, Chapters 1-4 of the Management Plan. 


Do I need to have the color of my house approved?

If your house (or any other building on your property) was built after 1986 and approved through the Scenic Area rules, then changing the exterior color must first be approved by the Gorge Commission or appropriate county planning department. If your house (or building) was approved before 1986 and was not reviewed under the Scenic Area guidelines, then approval is not necessary.


Applications & Decisions

How do I submit an application?

If your project is located in Klickitat County, you can download the application from our Resources page. We recommend you schedule a pre-application conference with a planner to review your application and review some general resource protection standards that may apply to your project. If your project is located in another gorge county, you need to contact that county’s planning department to get the appropriate application forms.
Land Use Application Form


How can I view a recent or past decision?

You can view a recent land use decision made by the Gorge Commission for lands within Klickitat County by clicking following the link below. To view decisions made in one of the other five counties located within the National Scenic Area, please contact the appropriate county planning department for assistance.
View Recent Decisions


Gorge Commission Meetings

How do I get a copy of the Commission Meeting minutes?

You can view the meeting minutes by selecting minutes on the website. If the meeting minutes that you wish to see are not posted, please contact the Commission office for a copy.
View Minutes


How do I get a copy of the attachments that are referenced in the meeting notes?

Attachments are not posted on the website as they are often lengthy. Please contact the Commission office for copies of attachments.
Contact Us


How do I get an audio copy of a Commission Meeting?

Audio downloads can be found on our webpage under Meetings & Minutes. Audio compact disc recordings of the Commission meetings are available for a fee. Please contact the Commission office for details.


How can I contact the Gorge Commission? How can I express my ideas and opinions?

You may e-mail, write or call staff and/or individual commissioners. You may also address the Commission at any public meeting during the public comment period. The public comment period is scheduled at the beginning of each meeting to hear public testimony on any issue which is not on the agenda. You may also provide written testimony at the meetings. 


National Scenic Area

How do I get a map of the National Scenic Area?

Visit our GIS Data & Maps page to find interactive maps of the National Scenic Area. You can also contact your local County planning office for maps of the National Scenic Area and any zoning that might pertain to your property.

How can I find out more about the National Scenic Area Act?

The National Scenic Area Act and the Management Plan for the National Scenic Area Act can be found by clicking on the link below
Click here for Scenic Area Info