Category: Pitch In

Support the trails, wilderness areas, National Forests, and other destinations that make our adventures possible.

FIGHT BACK: Weyerhaeuser Plans to Clearcut Our Gorge!

FIGHT BACK: Weyerhaeuser Plans to Clearcut Our Gorge!

Weyerhaeuser plans to exploit a legal loophole and clearcut 250 acres in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.

Beautiful colors abound on a sunny fall morning in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area near Hood River. This is near the proposed Weyerhauser clearcut. © Brian Denekas
Beautiful colors abound on a sunny fall morning in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area near Hood River. This is near the proposed Weyerhauser clearcut. © Brian Denekas

I’ll get right to the point: This article from Friends of the Columbia Gorge offers a strong overview of this issue, and has links to sign a petition urging Weyerhaeuser to NOT go through with their clearcut.

So if you’re in a hurry: Read and Sign!

For those who have more time and/or are interested in learning more, I’ll enumerate a more extensive explanation of Weyerhaeuser’s proposed clearcut, and the reasons why this is unacceptable.

Weyerhaeuser’s Proposed Clearcut

Weyerhaeuser's clearcut plan. The areas slated for clearcutting are highlighted in red. This is just east of Hood River, south of the Historic Columbia River Highway Trail, and IN the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. This approximately 250 acre area would be the largest clearcut by far proposed since the establishment of the National Scenic Area in 1986. Image Courtesy of Friends of the Columbia Gorge
Weyerhaeuser’s clearcut plan. The areas slated for clearcutting are highlighted in red. This approximately 250 acre area would be the largest clearcut by far proposed since the establishment of the National Scenic Area in 1986. Image courtesy of Friends of the Columbia Gorge

Weyerhaeuser plans to clearcut approximately 250 acres of forest in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. The site is southeast of Hood River, and directly south of the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail, including the beloved Mark Hatfield Trailhead. The photo to the right shows the proposed clearcut areas.

This proposed project would be the largest clearcutting endeavor since the establishment of the National Scenic Area in 1986.

A good summary of the proposed plan and community concerns can be found in this Hood River News article.

Environmental Impacts of Clearcutting

A coho salmon photographed in the aptly-named Salmon River on Mt. Hood. Salmon-bearing streams, which have often been painstakingly restored in order to support struggling salmon populations, are negatively impacted by clearcut-caused erosion. © Bureau of Land Management
A coho salmon spawns in the aptly-named Salmon River on Mt. Hood. Salmon-bearing streams, which have often been painstakingly restored in order to support struggling salmon populations, are negatively impacted by clearcut-caused erosion. © Bureau of Land Management, Creative Commons

Let’s begin by being clear about the definition of clearcutting. That means logging all trees in a swath of land, such that the forest is essentially destroyed and timber yield is maximized.

This practice obviously has a significant impact on local ecosystems. It destroys and disrupts wildlife habitat, and contributes to a phenomenon called habitat fragmentation. Habitat fragmentation occurs when large swaths of green space that function as wildlife corridors (areas where wildlife can travel freely) are reduced to small “islands” of untouched land, leaving wide-ranging animals without sufficient space to hunt and roam. The destruction of habitat can lead to increased human-animal encounters, which can be dangerous for all involved.

Clearcutting also, obviously, has significant impacts on vegetation – including effects that extend well beyond the initial cut. Clearcuts are prime ground for the spread of invasive plant species, which thrive in disturbed areas with sunny exposure. From the initial logging onward, clearcut areas also suffer soil erosion. The initial logging process churns up the forest floor, and then the lack of tree cover and loss of living roots ensures that the erosion continues unabated from there. This impacts soil health in many ways, including diminished nutrient density. It becomes harder for the forest to reestablish itself, and harder for native species to gain a foothold. More on clearcutting’s role in habitat fragmentation and the spread of invasive species here.

Erosion from clearcut forests also significantly impacts stream health, and therefore salmon and steelhead populations. It is well-established that clearcuts not only lead to increased runoff and reduced water clarity in nearby streams, but also that they negatively impact salmon and steelhead spawning. Read more here. Weyerhaeuser is choosing to disrespect the time, effort, and resources that Oregon has dedicated to salmon restoration by choosing to clearcut and damage stream ecosystems. This also is a slap in the face to local tribes, for whom salmon is a significant component of their culture.

Finally, timber harvest, generally speaking, is Oregon’s top greenhouse gas-producing industry, and clearcutting is the worst method of timber harvest in terms of climate impacts. Clearcutting emits significant amounts of greenhouse gases, while simultaneously removing significant sources carbon sequestration – namely forests. Read more here.

The impacts of climate change are becoming visible, and our region and planet are at a crucial crossroads. For many reasons, Weyerhaeuser’s plan to clearcut in the Gorge is shortsighted, out of touch, and poses a threat to the local and global environment.

Human Impacts of Clearcutting

Weyerhaeuser's clearcut plan. The areas slated for clearcutting are highlighted in red. This is just east of Hood River, south of the Historic Columbia River Highway Trail, and IN the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. This approximately 250 acre area would be the largest clearcut by far proposed since the establishment of the National Scenic Area in 1986. Image Courtesy of Friends of the Columbia Gorge
Weyerhaeuser’s clearcut plan. The areas slated for clearcutting are highlighted in red. It’s readily apparent that most of these areas are sloped, and thus at significant risk for erosion. Image Courtesy of Friends of the Columbia Gorge

As discussed in the previous section, clearcutting predisposes the landscape to erosion. This not only means a loss of soil nutrients, but also means that the landscape becomes more prone to significant instability. It is well-established that clearcuts are more prone to landslides than undisturbed or even selectively logged forests. Read more.

These risks are most severe when steep slopes are clearcut. As you can see in the image to the right depicting the proposed Weyerhaeuser clearcut area, steep slopes WILL be clearcut. This is ill-advised to say the least, potentially endangering homes and other areas that hold significance for Gorge residents and tourists alike.

A bridge in the scenic town of Mosier, Oregon, and a portion of the annual Columbia Gorge Marathon. This area's scenic value would be marred by the proposed Weyerhaeuser clearcut, and at risk for landslides. © Brian Denekas
A bridge in the scenic town of Mosier, Oregon, and a portion of the annual Columbia Gorge Marathon’s course. This area’s scenic value would be marred by the proposed Weyerhaeuser clearcut, and the area would be at risk for landslides. © Brian Denekas

The slopes that Weyerhaeuser intends to log in the Gorge are directly adjacent to key recreation opportunities, chief among them the Columbia River Gorge Historic Highway and the Historic Columbia River Gorge Highway State Trail, including the beloved Mark Hatfield Trailhead and Mosier Twin Tunnels. A landslide, therefore, would not only impact local quality of life, but also recreation-driven tourism, a key component of the Columbia River Gorge’s economy, and a key part of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area’s raison d’être.

The other component of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area’s raison d’être is its SCENIC VALUE. And its scenic value will be significantly diminished if there are large-scale clearcuts along the Gorge’s famously forested hillsides. Weyerhaeuser’s plan is completely antithetical to the purpose of a National Scenic Area and an insult to the beautiful landscape of the Gorge.

Finally, as discussed previously, the erosion caused by clearcutting also impacts stream health, and therefore salmon and steelhead populations. Fishing for, and consuming, these delicious salmonids is a key component of Pacific Northwest living and tourism, and a crucial part of Native American culture. Risking the health of salmon and steelhead populations by clearcutting hillsides in the Columbia River Gorge is shortsighted and potentially a violation of tribal, state, and federal laws.

Legal Shortcuts and Dangerous Precedents

Conducting community outreach and soliciting public comments is a key component of the project planning process, at least, if you're not Weyerhaeuser. WordPress Stock Image
Conducting community outreach and soliciting public comments is a key component of the project planning process – at least, if you’re not Weyerhaeuser. They have avoided talking to community leaders and community members from the towns directly adjacent to their proposed clearcuts. WordPress stock image

Weyerhaeuser’s proposed clearcut in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area sets a dangerous legal precedent. They are exploiting legal loopholes that could become wider as a result of their ill-advised behavior.

Although the National Scenic Area designation promotes the preservation of the Columbia River Gorge’s scenic splendor (the word “scenic” is in the name, after all), the legislation also allows for diverse land uses in the Gorge, from recreation to agriculture. Logging is not explicitly prohibited, though there are non-binding guidelines for doing so in a way that is sustainable and does not harm the Gorge’s scenic value. Furthermore, it is my understanding that sustainable forestry practices are only required in Special Management Areas (SMA) of the National Scenic Area, rather than throughout the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area – thus Weyerhaeuser can technically log this area legally.

Weyerhaeuser is exploiting these loopholes. What they are proposing to do may not be illegal, but it is certainly against the spirit of the law that created the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.

Furthermore, Weyehaeuser is deliberately avoiding a key component of environmental policy best practices: Facilitating stakeholder discussions of any significant project that will have an impact on a community.

Weyerhaeuser has not even had the courage to face any representatives from the towns that this proposed clearcut will effect – specifically Hood River and Mosier. So it will perhaps come as no surprise that they also have elected to avoid hosting public information sessions or community forums. Weyerhaeuser is instead proceeding without public input, in a project that has potentially significant ramifications for Hood River and Mosier. This non-collaborative approach goes against the spirit of modern environmental decision-making and sets a dangerous precedent for corporations to override the will of local communities that will bear the brunt of the impacts of their projects.

Ethical Concerns

Ethical concerns abound with Weyerhaeuser's proposed plan. WordPress stock image.
Ethical concerns abound with Weyerhaeuser’s proposed plan. WordPress stock image

Weyerhaeuser’s flouting of environmental policy best practices demonstrates a lack of concern for collaborative decision-making, as well as a lack of concern for the impacts that their clearcut will have on local communities. By not soliciting community input and attempting to slip this project under the radar, Weyerhaeuser blatantly shows that they don’t care what local communities need or want. Indeed, it seems as though Weyerhaeuser is only concerned about their own bottom line.

The impacts of clearcutting on various ecosystems is not news: This is well-established scientific knowledge that anyone in the Pacific Northwest should be aware of. A northwest-based logging company like Weyerhaeuser cannot possibly be unaware of these risks. Thus we must assume that they simply don’t CARE about the ecological impacts of their proposed project. Again, Weyehaeuser seems only concerned about their own financial gain.

Finally, the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area has had a hell of a year. With a still-smoldering fire that decimated an estimated 48,861 acres in September 2017, the Gorge is only just beginning to recover from a significant environmental and economic disaster. To propose to clearcut some of the Gorge’s remaining forest on the heels of the Eagle Creek Fire is tasteless and insensitive.

If Weyerhaeuser had any sense of decency, they would be helping with the Eagle Creek Fire recovery efforts, rather than proposing to destroy one of the few areas of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area that was spared from the flames.

Stopping Weyerhaeuser and Helping Our Gorge

A rainbow extends over the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area during the 2014 Columbia Gorge Marathon. This area, east of Hood River and near the town of Mosier, is just north of the proposed Weyerhaueser clearcut. © Brian Denekas
A rainbow extends over the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area during the 2014 Columbia Gorge Marathon. This area, east of Hood River and near the town of Mosier, is just north of the proposed Weyerhaueser clearcut. © Brian Denekas

First of all, I encourage you to read this article and sign the petition it links to.

Secondly, we should all contact our representatives – local, state-level, and national – and urge them to block Weyerhaeuser’s proposed clearcut:

Thirdly, I highly recommend becoming a member of Friends of the Columbia Gorge. Your donations help to power this nonprofit’s multilayered work for the protection of our beloved Gorge, and being on their email list will keep you abreast of new developments in this fight against Weyerhaeuser, as well as other topics ranging from Eagle Creek Fire trail recovery projects to group hikes.

And finally, let’s spread the word. The news only broke yesterday (May 29), so we need to begin mounting our defense. The bigger the outcry, the harder it will be for Weyerhaeuser to see their project through. Share this article, share the petition, and make a statement: YOU DO NOT MESS WITH OUR GORGE!

Thank you for your passion and activism.

Sunrise breaks in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, near Hood River. This is near the area that Weyerhaeuser plans to clearcut, and these classic views would be marred. © Brian Denekas
Sunrise breaks in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, near Hood River. This is near the area that Weyerhaeuser plans to clearcut, and these classic views would be marred. © Brian Denekas

Banner Photo: Balsamroot and Mt Adams viewed from McCall Point. This area is near the proposed Weyerhaeuser clearcut. © Jenni Denekas

Eagle Creek Fire: What Now

Eagle Creek Fire: What Now

As of November 30, the Eagle Creek Fire is 100% contained, but the work has only just begun. Read on to find out how to help restore this beloved landscape and support our Gorge towns.

For a comprehensive look at the Eagle Creek Fire’s history: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5584/

Eagle Creek Fire
Trail runners watched from the Washington side as the Oregon side of the gorge burned, on Sunday, Sept. 4. © Jeff Fisher & Jennifer Love

Before the Eagle Creek Fire was contained, it burned 48,861 acres on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. The vast majority of trails on the Oregon side of the Gorge remain closed due to fire damage and subsequent landslides.

The destruction of this beloved landscape was, and is, heart-wrenching. I was unable to tear my eyes from the news for weeks after the Eagle Creek Fire exploded. Then I was numb and frozen for months. I feel like only recently I’ve pulled out of this fog of grief and despair.

Indeed, it is easy to feel devastated by what has happened. But as much as we can, we need to keep moving. We need to pitch in by supporting the restoration efforts and the communities who were impacted by the fire, and we need to show our gratitude to those who helped as the Gorge burned.

My best recommendations are listed below. I will keep updating this post. Thank you for doing your part to help.

Support Restoration Efforts

Eagle Creek
Punchbowl Falls along the Eagle Creek Trail, near where the fire began. I hope it can be as verdant again one day. © Jenni Denekas

This will be a long process, but eventually we will restore and rebuild the Gorge’s beautiful forests and trails.

The following four organizations have formed the Gorge Trails Recovery Team, and deserve monetary donations as well as contributions of volunteer hours:

I’ll also give an honorable mention to the Trails Club of Oregon. They have pledged to work to restore the Gorge, too, and they have quite a project ahead of them: Nesika Lodge, which is owned and operated by the Trails Club, was damaged by the fire. Miraculously, it is still standing, but it will need a lot of work in the coming year. Consider a donation, or sign up to volunteer on their website. You can also contribute directly to repairing Nesika Lodge here.

Support Our Awesome Gorge Towns

Thunder Island Brewing
Thunder Island Brewing © Christopher Muhs, Creative Commons

This is a fun task: Help these towns recover economically by patronizing their awesome businesses!

  • I love Thunder Island Brewing in Cascade Locks. They have a great location, great food, great drinks, and they support the iconic PCT Days celebration each summer. On top of it, they opened their doors to fire crews fighting the Eagle Creek Fire, providing them free meals. They deserve our business!
  • Check out the Columbia River Gorge Visitors’ Association website for more awesome businesses to support.
  • Go to PCT Days next year! Located in Cascade Locks, this event is a way to provide both moral and financial support to the small town at the epicenter of the Eagle Creek Fire. This event celebrates the Pacific Crest Trail (which also has been impacted by the fire) and is an opportunity to hang out with PCT thru-hikers and connect with the local outdoor community.

Donate to Search and Rescue

  • Donate to Hood River County Search and Rescue’s Mike Anderson Search and Rescue Fund, named for a recently deceased deputy. This will directly fund SAR efforts. You can donate at any US Bank branch, or deliver or mail donations to: 601 State Street, Hood River, OR 97031. Hood River SAR evacuated the 150-plus hikers who were trapped on the Eagle Creek Trail when the fire began, and they have also been part of myriad rescues in the Gorge and on Mt. Hood throughout the years.
  • Mountain Wave Search and Rescue also helped during the fire. You can donate to them here.

Donate to the Fire Crews

Eagle Creek Fire
The Eagle Creek Fire on Sunday, Sept. 4. © Jeff Fisher & Jennifer Love

It is an understatement to say that these brave folks who put it all on the line for our beloved Gorge are heroes. Show your gratitude by donating to them. The ones in red are, in my opinion, the most worthy of donations. They are fire crews that were battling for their backyards, and/or did something exceptionally heroic. But again, everyone who helped is a hero. They all deserve our support.

  • Albany Fire Department: They contributed some of their fire fighters to battle this blaze, as well as the massive Chetco Bar Fire on the southern Oregon coast. (Two areas close to my heart.)
  • Cascade Locks Fire and EMS. At the bottom of their homepage, there is a “donate” button. Cascade Locks was at the epicenter of this fire, and it is not in a very populous or affluent county. They need and deserve our support.
  • Corbett: Fire District 14: This fire crew was battling for their backyard.
  • Forest Grove Fire and Rescue: They contributed fire fighters to battle this blaze.
  • Hillsboro Fire Department: They contributed fire fighters to battle this blaze.
  • Gresham Fire and Emergency Services: They were part of the crew that saved the historic Multnomah Falls Lodge from the blaze (and did so through the night, from Sunday, September 4, to Monday, September 5, when the structure was first threatened).
  • Northwest Interagency Coordination Center: They play an integral role in planning fire responses and also make information on fires and air quality available to the public on their awesome website.
  • Oregon Department of Forestry: Their Fire Protection program was an integral part of the fire fighting effort. Since it’s a state agency, we probably can’t donate to them directly, but please, in the future, vote to support funding for them!
  • Oregon Air National Guard: They assisted in many ways with the fire.
  • Oregon National Guard: They assisted in many ways with the fire.
  • Portland Fire and Rescue: They contributed fire fighters to battle this blaze.
  • Skamania County had to contend with the Archer Mountain fire (sparked by the Eagle Creek fire) and supported the Stevenson Red Cross evacuation efforts. Like their neighbors across the river, Skamania County is not very populous or affluent. The county was asking for monetary donations to support their fire and other emergency services, and I’m sure contributions would still be welcome. Contact Sarah Slack at 509-427-3980 to contribute.
  • US Forest Service: They assisted in a variety of ways, and are one of several agencies that coordinate the Interagency Hotshots. Some Hotshots helped with the Eagle Creek Fire. Since it’s a federal agency, we can’t donate to them directly, but please, in the future, vote to support funding for them!

Unfortunately, I don’t know all the agencies and fire crews that were involved, and I don’t have links to donation pages for all of them (some of the links are just to their websites). Please reach out with any information about donating to these groups who put it all on the line for our beloved Gorge. It is an understatement to say they deserve our support!

Additionally, the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office recommended donating to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. Their mission, as stated on their website, is “to help families of firefighters killed in the line of duty and to assist injured firefighters and their families.” Donating to this cause has less of a direct link to the Eagle Creek Fire, because there were no (human) fatalities, but honoring fallen heroes is important.

Support Those Who Helped with Evacuation Efforts

Eagle Creek Fire
The Eagle Creek Fire on Sunday, Sept. 4. © Jeff Fisher & Jennifer Love
  • The Red Cross operated shelters for evacuees in Stevenson, WA and at Mount Hood Community College in Gresham, Oregon. Donate to the Red Cross, specifying either the Cascades division or the Disaster Relief FundThe latter also assisted with all the hurricanes of fall 2017.
  • As previously stated, Skamania County had to fight the Archer Mountain fire (sparked by the Eagle Creek fire) and supported the Stevenson Red Cross evacuation efforts. The county was asking for monetary donations and I’m sure they’d still appreciate any money you can spare. Contact Sarah Slack at 509-427-3980 to contribute.
  • According to this post by KGW News, Gone Towing helped to evacuate residents in Level 2 and Level 3 areas, free of charge. They deserve your future business!

And More Broadly… Fight Climate Change

Hurricane Harvey
NASA has been watching Hurricane Harvey from satellites and the International Space Station. © NASA, Creative Commons

NOTE: If you don’t believe the facts, kindly shut up and find a way to help with the Eagle Creek Fire that DOES gel with you. Don’t waste time arguing about reality when so much else needs to be done.

Fall 2017 brought Hurricanes Harvey and Irma and catastrophic fires throughout much of the American West, making it clear that we are starting to reap what we have sown. It is imperative that we intensify our efforts to combat climate change.

First, I’ll list some nonprofits you can donate to. Second, I’ll list some suggestions for reducing your own carbon footprint.

Climate-Change-Fighting Organizations

  • Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is a fantastic organization that is taking a multifaceted approach to combating climate change. I’m linking to their Get Involved page so you can access a whole host of ways to contribute. Click on the large Donate button in the upper right corner if that’s how you wish to help.
  • The Union of Concerned Scientists is also a reputable and awesome group. I recommend checking out their Global Warming Solutions page to learn about various ways to combat climate change. You can also just click on the Donate button in the upper right corner if that’s the route you’d prefer to take.

Combat Climate Change in Your Own Life

Most of these suggestions are Oregon-specific, or Portland Metro-specific. I’m just speaking to what the majority of my audience will find relevant. For a whole host of ideas on how to combat climate change no matter where you live, I advise checking out NRDC’s Get Involved page and the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Climate Change Solutions page, as previously mentioned.

Sherman County Windmills
Windmills amid wheat fields in Sherman County, Oregon. This growing industry not only allows farmers to turn a larger profit on their fields, but also helps contribute to combating climate change. © Sam Beebe, Creative Commons
  • Sign up for renewable energy through PGE. It’s easy and it’s helpful. Do it.
  • Drive less, use transit more: You can even get to outdoor adventure destinations using transit!
    • Check out the Point for getting from Portland to popular destinations on the Oregon north coast, or to travel throughout the state.
    • Check out the Central Oregon Breeze to travel between central Oregon and Portland.
    • Check out the Mt. Hood Express to get from Portland to our lovely local volcano.
    • Once the Gorge is safe to explore again (sigh), check out the Columbia Gorge Express for the Oregon side, and the Gorge WET Bus for the Washington side.
    • Greyhound and Amtrak serve a fair amount of Oregon destinations, too. That’s how I reached the California-Oregon border for my trek on the Oregon Coast Trail.
    • And, of course, you can use the handy Trimet Trip Planner for strategizing transit in the Portland metro area.
  • When you have to drive, carpool! You can even check out rideshares:

I want to remind you that this list is a work in progress. I welcome your input. Please post your (well-researched) ideas in the comments below!

Again: Detailed history of the Eagle Creek Fire is available here: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5584/

Banner Image: I drew this after visiting the Gorge for the first time, post-fire. A couple that looks suspiciously like my boyfriend and me consoles one another in a burnt forest. © Jenni Denekas

Eagle Creek Fire: How to Help

Eagle Creek Fire: How to Help

*Archive Post! See Eagle Creek Fire: What Now for the most recent updates on the fire and how to support restoration efforts*

As of 7:00 pm on Friday, September 29, the Eagle Creek Fire encompasses an estimated 48,831 acres on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. It is 46% contained. The Archer Mountain Fire, which was sparked on the Washington side by the Eagle Creek Fire, is still burning, but 100% contained as of September 13.

It’s been raining intermittently since Sunday, September 17, and all evacuation orders have been lifted at this time. However, as they said on InciWeb, “Conditions have significantly reduced fire behavior, though it will continue to smolder or creep within the fire perimeter, producing smoke for some time. Significant growth is not anticipated, but soaking rains will be necessary to fully remove heat from the fire.” With the rain, there is also landslide danger, which is exacerbated by fire damage. We’re not done yet, and the Gorge will still need to be restored. We still have lots of work to do.

NOTE: I’ll try to keep this page updated as much as possible, but for the most up-to-date and accurate information on the Eagle Creek Fire, visit: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5584/

Eagle Creek Fire
Trail runners watch from the Washington side as the Oregon side of the gorge burns, on Sunday, Sept. 4. The fire has since spread to the Washington side. © Jeff Fisher & Jennifer Love

The destruction of this beloved landscape is heart-wrenching. I have not been able to tear my eyes from the news since the Eagle Creek Fire exploded.

It is easy to feel devastated and helpless in this situation. I’ve been feeling that way since the fire began. But as much as we can, we need to pitch in and support the fire fighting and evacuation efforts – and eventually, the restoration efforts.

My best recommendations so far are listed below. I will keep updating this post. Thank you for doing your part to help as this tragedy unfolds.

Donate to Search and Rescue

Donate to the Fire Crews

Eagle Creek Fire
The Eagle Creek Fire on Sunday, Sept. 4. © Jeff Fisher & Jennifer Love

Before I get into specifics, please note: Fire crews have requested that folks STOP bringing donated items to them. In particular, they have enough bottled water – which is awesome, because that need was filled really quickly! Thanks to those who did that.

Also, unless you have to, please do not go to the Gorge. No gawking, no dropping off donations. Do not make the area more crowded – or the situation more complicated – for the first responders. Give them room to do their thing.

OK, that said…

Donate to emergency services at the epicenter of this disaster:

  • Cascade Locks Fire and EMS. At the bottom of their homepage, there is a “donate” button. Cascade Locks is being hit hard by this fire, and it is not in a very populous or affluent county. They need all the help they can get.
  • Skamania County is fighting the Archer Mountain fire (sparked by the Eagle Creek fire) and has been supporting the Stevenson Red Cross evacuation efforts. Like their neighbors across the river, Skamania County is not a very populous or affluent county, and they need all the help they can get. The county is asking for monetary donations to support their fire and other emergency services. Contact Sarah Slack at 509-427-3980 to contribute.

I’m still looking for a complete list of the groups that are fighting the Eagle Creek Fire, and links to donate to them. Please comment on this post if you have information! But so far, at least, I know that the following crews are involved:

  • Albany Fire Department: They have contributed some of their fire fighters to battle this blaze, as well as the Chetco Bar Fire on the southern Oregon coast.
  • Corbett: Fire District 14: This fire crew is battling for their backyard.
  • Forest Grove Fire and Rescue: They have contributed fire fighters to battle this blaze.
  • Hillsboro Fire Department: They have contributed fire fighters to battle this blaze.
  • Gresham Fire and Emergency Services: They are part of the crew protecting the historic Multnomah Falls Lodge from the blaze (and did so through the night, from Sunday, September 4, to Monday, September 5, when the structure was first threatened).
  • Northwest Interagency Coordination Center: They play an integral role in planning fire responses and also make information on fires and air quality available to the public on their awesome website.
  • Oregon Department of Forestry: Their Fire Protection program is an integral part of the fire fighting effort. Since it’s a state agency, we probably can’t donate to them directly, but please, in the future, vote to support funding for them!
  • Oregon Air National Guard: They are assisting in many ways with the fire.
  • Oregon National Guard: They are assisting in many ways with the fire.
  • Portland Fire and Rescue: They have contributed fire fighters to battle this blaze.
  • US Forest Service: They are assisting in a variety of ways, and are one of several agencies that coordinate the Interagency Hotshots. Some Hotshots are helping with the Eagle Creek Fire. Since it’s a federal agency, we probably can’t donate to them directly, but please, in the future, vote to support funding for them!

Again, unfortunately, I don’t know all the agencies and fire crews involved, and I don’t have links to donation pages for those in the second bulleted list. Please let me know if you have any information as to how to donate to these groups putting it all on the line for our beloved Gorge. It is an understatement to say they deserve our support!

Additionally, the Multnomah County Sheriff recommended donating to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. Their mission, as stated on their website, is “to help families of firefighters killed in the line of duty and to assist injured firefighters and their families.” Donating to this cause has less of a direct impact on efforts to combat the Eagle Creek Fire. However, as I said above, it is an understatement to say that wildland firefighters deserve our support! These brave folks are heroes and honoring the fallen is important.

Support Those Who Helped with Evacuation Efforts

Eagle Creek Fire
The Eagle Creek Fire on Sunday, Sept. 4. © Jeff Fisher & Jennifer Love
  • The Red Cross operated shelters for evacuees in Stevenson, WA and at Mount Hood Community College in Gresham, Oregon. Donate to the Red Cross, specifying either the Cascades division or the Disaster Relief Fund. The latter also supports those affected by the hurricanes, and more.
  • Skamania County is fighting the Archer Mountain fire (sparked by the Eagle Creek fire) and supported the Stevenson Red Cross evacuation efforts. The county is asking for monetary donations. Contact Sarah Slack at 509-427-3980 to contribute.
  • According to this post by KGW News, Gone Towing was helping to evacuate residents in Level 2 and Level 3 areas, free of charge. Call (503) 602-2626 to donate to support their efforts. Any additional funds will be donated to the Red Cross and local fire departments. They also deserve your future business!

Support Restoration Efforts

Eagle Creek
Punchbowl Falls along the Eagle Creek Trail, near where the fire began. I hope it can be as verdant again one day. © Jenni Denekas

This will be part of the long game, but eventually we will restore and rebuild our beautiful Gorge.

Support Our Awesome Gorge Towns

Thunder Island Brewing
Thunder Island Brewing © Christopher Muhs, Creative Commons

Once it is safe to do so, please help these towns recover economically by patronizing their awesome businesses! I’ll also update this section if/when opportunities to donate to evacuees and to rebuilding efforts arise.

  • I love Thunder Island Brewing in Cascade Locks. They have a great location, great food, great drinks, and support the iconic PCT Days celebration each summer. Then on top of it, they opened their doors to fire crews, providing them free meals, at the start of the Eagle Creek Fire. They deserve our business!
  • Check out the Columbia River Gorge Visitors’ Association for more awesome businesses to support!
  • Go to PCT Days next year! Located in Cascade Locks, this event is a way to provide both moral and financial support to the small town at the epicenter of the Eagle Creek Fire. This event celebrates the Pacific Crest Trail (which also has been impacted by the fire) and is an opportunity to hang out with PCT thru-hikers and connect with the local outdoor community.

And More Broadly… Fight Climate Change and Climate Change Denial

Hurricane Harvey
NASA has been watching Hurricane Harvey from satellites and the International Space Station. © NASA, Creative Commons

NOTE: If you don’t believe the facts, please shut up and find a way to help with the Eagle Creek Fire that DOES gel with you. Don’t waste time arguing about reality when so much else needs to be done.

From Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, to the catastrophic fires throughout much of the American West, we are starting to reap what we have sown. It is imperative that we intensify our efforts to combat climate change.

First, I’ll list some nonprofits you can donate to. Second, I’ll list some suggestions for reducing your own carbon footprint.

Climate-Change-Fighting Organizations

  • Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is a fantastic organization that is taking a multifaceted approach to combating climate change and raising awareness. I’m linking to their Get Involved page so you can access a whole host of ways to contribute. Then just click on the large Donate button in the upper right corner if that’s the route you’d prefer to take.
  • The Union of Concerned Scientists is also a reputable and awesome group. I’m linking her to their Global Warming Solutions page, so that you can read about various ways to help combat climate change. You can also just click on the Donate button in the upper right corner if that’s the route you’d prefer to take.

Combat Climate Change in Your Own Life

Most of these suggestions are Oregon/Portland Metro-specific. I’m just speaking to what the majority of my audience will find relevant. For a whole host of ideas on how to combat climate change no matter where you live, I advise checking out NRDC’s Get Involved page and the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Climate Change Solutions page.

Sherman County Windmills
Windmills amid wheat fields in Sherman County, Oregon. This growing industry not only allows farmers to turn a larger profit on their fields, but also helps contribute to combating climate change. © Sam Beebe, Creative Commons

I want to remind you that this list is a work in progress. I welcome your input. Please post your (well-researched) ideas in the comments below!

Again: Up-to-date and accurate information on the Eagle Creek Fire is available here: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5584/

Banner Image: The Eagle Creek Fire, viewed from the Washington side of the Gorge on Sunday, Sept. 4. The fire has since spread to the Washington side. © Jeff Fisher & Jennifer Love