Member Spotlight: Inn of the White Salmon

A quaint 17-room inn located in White Salmon, the Inn of the White Salmon makes every effort to operate sustainably while also regularly supporting local businesses. Having been in operation since 1937, the Inn has been owned and operated by David and Dennice Dierck for the past five years in conjunction with two other families.

With a unique – and very Gorge-centric –strategy for making business decisions, the Inn uses four business filters for determining whether or not to move forward: art, wine, recreation, and landscape. This philosophy is very apparent when you walk in the doors: Work from local artists hang on the walls; Gorge wines and locally brewed beers are available for purchase; salvaged wood and recycled carpets are among the many “green” interior highlights; and recreation is just out the back door – or a shuttle ride away.

When asked which aspect of their sustainable approach they are most proud, the owners energetically discuss their new landscaping project.  In conjunction with Arbor Day, the once water-intensive landscaping was converted into drought-tolerant plants with drip irrigation and gravity-fed rain barrels. This approach was spurred by David, a long-time firefighter, his wife, Dennice, with her skills at landscape design, and their son, Matthew, with his Master Gardener certification. Juniper trees, which have a high fuel load and are easily combustible, were replaced by Quaking Aspen that inhabit the south-facing side of the building, reducing the electric usage for the building. Of course the compost is created from the Inn’s coffee grounds and personal food scraps of the owners, and barks chips are provided by the Public Utilities District as a result of the many downed trees from this winter’s ice storm.

Aside from the usual recycling, the Inn of the White Salmon has taken great care to reduce as much waste as possible. This includes changing all of the plumbing to include low-flush toilets; installing energy efficient windows; using post-consumer recycled products for flooring; and using almost 100% LED and fluorescent lighting. These lighting improvements have cut the energy bill by 2,000 watts ,just in the upstairs alone, says David. Much of the flooring, headboards, trim and millwork are made from broomsticks pulled from the river left from the timber industry.

The Inn’s owners are very active in the community, with David sitting on the Board of Directors for the Mt. Adams Chamber of Commerce, among other things. In the spirit of collaboration, the Inn teams up with local restaurants to offer breakfast to  guests. The Inn also offers a shuttle service to Mt. Hood Meadows (available to all community members) throughout the winter, and a shuttle service to and from the Portland International Airport or Amtrak train station in Bingen.

The next time you are looking for a place to send guests, recommend the Inn of the White Salmon. Guests  will wake up in a simple, well-kept room, each inspired by a thoughtful quote beautifully painted on the room wall, exemplifying the respect and grace of the owners.

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