We hate to see Greg Hughes leave the Tri-Cities, and we're certain we're not the only ones who feel that way.
A few years back, Hughes took the Herald editorial board on a daylong tour of the Hanford Reach National Monument, including several places behind locked gates and many that are readily accessible to the public.
Few people get the opportunity, as we did, to view the Mid-Columbia from the top of Rattlesnake Mountain. It was one of the most memorable places Hughes took us that day.
But everyone can go to the top of Saddle Mountain. And we recommend they do. It's an equally impressive vantage point -- one that most of us had never visited before our field trip -- and one we suspect many of our readers still are unaware of.
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Want to see it? Go to www.fws. gov and type in "Saddle Mountain" for directions on how to get there.
Saddle Mountain is but a part of the Hanford Reach National Monument. Hughes' contribution to the monument may be the greatest accomplishment during of his stint in the Mid-Columbia.
The monument was set aside by President Clinton in June 2000, just a month after Hughes took the lead as project manager at the Mid-Columbia River National Wildlife Refuge Complex.
And since the monument was created, his hand has been in its every development.
Managing the monument has been controversial, to put it mildly. But the controversies have been manageable, thanks in large part to Hughes' candid, unflappable style.
He walked a hard line between advocates for unlimited access to the land those who would keep much or all of it off limits.
Many others have contributed, of course. Hughes was part of the advisory board that developed the Reach management plan. State, county and tribal delegates, along with representatives of local economic interests, recreation groups and conservationists, all found a way to come together.
It was, shall we say, a "monumental task."
And perhaps a thankless job.
At the Reach's one-year anniversary, Hughes told a Herald reporter, "There's a lot of people's turf that we have taken over here, and they are not all happy that we are here."
But he was hopeful for the future.
In the same interview he said, "How many places do you get to ... start from scratch and develop a vision?"
Of course managing the Reach means a lot more than sitting on an advisory board.
Here are a few key issues that have been associated with Hughes' name during the past 11 years: fighting numerous wild fires (including the especially large 24 Command fire just one month after his arrival), reducing the Hanford elk herd, replanting natural habitat, lobbying for limited public access to the top of Rattlesnake Ridge, adopting a management plan for the Hanford Reach National Monument, tracking poachers and uncovering huge marijuana grows.
He's been busy advocate for flora and fauna. He's been one of the driving forces behind conservation in the Mid-Columbia.
Like we said, we hate to see Greg Hughes leave the Tri-Cities.