Preserve the Wonders of the Columbia Gorge

 
$13,050
$11,950
Raised
Remaining
Nov 26, 2013

Closing Our GlobalGiving Project - Thank You!

Western Columbia Gorge. Photo by Ken Denis.
Western Columbia Gorge. Photo by Ken Denis.

We write to inform you that we have decided to consolidate our fundraising platforms and will no longer be promoting projects through GlobalGiving.

But the Columbia Gorge isn't going anywhere, and neither is Friends of the Columbia Gorge. We will continue, with the support and encouragement of our thousands of members and other Gorge lovers, to do our best to fulfill our vision: To ensure that the beautiful and wild Columbia Gorge remains a place apart, an unspoiled treasure for generations to come.

To learn more about our organization, visit

our website: http://gorgefriends.org/

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/gorgefriends

Thanks for your interest and support!


 

Jul 31, 2013

Second Quarter 2013 Report

Friends of the Columbia Gorge is pleased to report on successes met and challenges faced in the spring of 2013.
With generous support from members, volunteers and others, Friends was able to oppose the threat of coal exports, fight damaging wind energy and natural gas developments, monitor radioactive waste transport proposals, deepen our connection with our membership through improved communication and analysis and continue outreach with our hiking and other events in the Gorge.

Objective: Ensure Energy Development and Transportation does not harm gorge
resources

  1. Wind Energy: Ensure no new wind turbines near the
         Scenic Area boundary and no new adverse impacts to Gorge resources.
  2. Natural Gas Power Plants: Ensure development does not
         increase Gorge air pollution: NO NEW UPDATE
  3. Coal Export: Stop major coal transport proposals
         through the Gorge.
  4. Radioactive waste: Stop radioactive waste transport
         proposals through the Gorge: NO NEW UPDATE.
  5.  
    Ensure no new wind turbines near the Scenic Area boundary and no new adverse
    impacts to Gorge residents.


    Friends maintains a strong litigation position with the Washington Supreme
    Court on the Whistling Ridge wind energy project decision, filing objections,
    making oral arguments and submitting briefs. On June 27, Friends gave oral
    arguments in front of the Washington Supreme Court for the first time since
    2000, arguing that the site of the Whistling RIdge project, just on the edge of
    the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area and well within view from inside
    the Scenic Area, was not properly vetted during the application process and did
    not adequately consider the potential harm the turbines pose to wildlife,
    recreation, and scenic views. The Court's decision is expected this fall.


Stop major coal transport proposals through the Gorge    

As the main transportation link between the Intermountain West and the Pacific
Ocean, the Columbia Gorge is the West’s default corridor for energy
transportation.  Plans for five, large-scale coal export proposals have
been proposed in the Northwest.  Coal would be transported by rail from
the Powder River Basin in Wyoming to the Pacific Northwest for export to Asia.
The only feasible route for transport is through the Columbia River
Gorge.  Coal exports could exceed 150 million tons annually, resulting in
30 mile-long coal trains per day with uncovered coal cars.  Increased coal
transport would increase fugitive coal dust and diesel emissions, create the
need to double track the rail lines of the gorge and  disrupt local
communities. 

To meet this threat, Friends has joined with the Power Past Coal
Coalition.  The coalition of 90 groups, including Sierra Club, Climate
Solutions, Earth Justice, Greenpeace, Washington Environmental Council and
Columbia Riverkeeper, is working to stop coal export proposals from moving
forward.  Friends  plays a crucial role within the coalition as the
only organization with the sole mission of protecting the Columbia River Gorge,
a federally protected area impacted by all five export proposals. Friends’
bi-state voice in the coalition enables us to effectively organize work with
elected officials in both states. Friends’ long-standing relationships in many
communities facing adverse rail traffic impacts resulted in numerous city and
county resolutions and letters against increased coal transport. The broad
community and coalition response to this threat inspires civic engagement and
effective alliances with a diviersity of constituencies. 

Friends and others have laid considerable ground work securing opposition
letters from over 60 communities and elected officials. As the process moved
into hearings and reviews of Draft Environmental Impact Statements (EIS),
Friends worked with the coalition to expand the scope of the review. Friends
recently hired Senator Ron Wyden’s former chief of staff to encourage the
Senator (now the chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee) to
actively engage in the coal export issue and call for a broader environmental
review.   

The Port of Morrow proposal is the first to move forward in Oregon.  Due
to pressure from the Power Past Coal Coalition, Ambre Energy was forced to
apply to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) for air and water
quality permits.  In addition, the Ambre Energy project needs permits from
Oregon DSL and the Corps of Engineers prior to construction. The DSL removal
and fill permit, which could have been issued as early as April 1, 2013, has
been delayed until September 2013.  This is the first permit coal export
permit decision, making it a major opposition focus. On July 9, the DEQ held
public hearings in Portland and Hermiston, OR. Friends and our allies organized
hundreds of people to appear at the hearings to comment against granting a
permit for the Morrow Pacific Project, as well as holding a "People's
Hearing" outside Portland's Oregon Convention Center that was given wide
coverage by local and regional media.

On a broader scale potentially impacting all the coal export proposals, on June 5 Friends joined the Sierra
Club and other organizations in filing suit against Burlington Northern Santa
Fe Railway (BNSF) and several coal companies for violations of the federal
Clean Water Act after collecting evidence demonstrating the companies'
responsibility for emitting coal into waterways in several locations across
Washington, including the Columbia Gorge.

Friends also commissioned a poll with Oregon pollster Grove Insights to gauge Oregonians' support of the various
coal export proposals, particularly when informed about the potential harm to
the Columbia Gorge. The poll findings, released June 27, show that a plurality
of Oregonians already oppose coal export, a number that grows signficantly when
respondents are given information about potential harm to Gorge environment and
livability.

Objective: Build public support for long-term Gorge protection

Friends continued its successful hiking and outings program. A new addition to the hiking program was
launched in Spring 2013: Play and Stay.  Part of the Gorge Towns to Trails concept encouraging recreation blended with economic development, the Play and Stay weekends provide guided outings starting from the same
community.  The intent is for hikers to play and stay overnight, enjoying what the commmunity has to offer. 

Friends also launched Flower Frenzy, its 2013 hike challenge. As in previous years, the hike challenges
help promote and deepen connections to the Gorge. The challenge has been very popular and more than 80 hikers have submitted completed "flower logs" of Gorge wildflower they found and identified while on trails.

Friends thanks its members, volunteers, and others' efforts to protect the Columbia Gorge for future
generations to enjoy.

Apr 1, 2013

First Quarter 2013 Report

Friends of the Columbia Gorge is pleased to report on successes met and challenges faced at the end of 2012 and beginning of 2013. With generous support from members, volunteers and others, Friends was able to oppose the threat of coal exports, fight damaging wind energy and natural gas developments, monitor radioactive waste transport proposals,  deepen our membership connection through improved communication and analysis and continue outreach with our hiking and other events in the Gorge.

Objective: Ensure Energy Development and Transportation does not harm gorge resources

  1. Wind Energy: Ensure no new wind turbines near the Scenic Area boundary and no new adverse impacts to Gorge resources.
  2. Natural Gas Power Plants: Ensure development does not increase Gorge air pollution.
  3. Coal Export: Stop major coal transport proposals through the Gorge.
  4. Radioactive waste: Stop radioactive waste transport proposals through the Gorge.


Ensure no new wind turbines near the Scenic Area boundary and no new adverse impacts to Gorge residents.

Friends maintains a strong litigation position with the Washington Supreme Court on the Whistling Ridge wind energy project decision, filing objections, making oral arguments and submitting briefs. As part of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (i.e., the deal reached on the fiscal cliff), Congress renewed the federal energy production tax credit for one year, thus keeping alive federal funding for approved but not yet built wind energy projects. This bolstered the potential viability of the Whistling Ridge Project.  Friends will continue to stay engaged in this issue and litigation.

Ensure natural gas power plants development does not increase Gorge air pollution.

The initial application for the Troutdale 600-megawatt natural gas facility was not released by public comment, possibly due to conflicts with the proposal and the adjacent Troutdale airport.  Friends learned that the proposal could result in the closure of the Troutdale airport due to exhaust from the twin natural gas turbines and steam emissions from its cooling facility.  The natural gas facility has been strongly opposed by the Oregon Pilots Association.   In December 2012 the application was amended to a 451-megawatt busload unit and two 101 MW peaking units, allowing expanded use of diesel fuel.  The project could worsen air pollution in the Gorge, particularly with nitrogen oxides.  Friends continues to monitor the application and is prepared to provide comments when the application is released for public comment. 

Stop major coal transport proposals through the Gorge    

As the main transportation link between the Intermountain West and the Pacific Ocean, the Columbia Gorge is the West’s default corridor for energy transportation.  Plans for five, large-scale coal export proposals have been proposed in the Northwest.  Coal would be transported by rail from the Powder River Basin in Wyoming to the Pacific Northwest for export to Asia. The only feasible route for transport is through the Columbia River Gorge.  Coal exports could exceed 150 million tons annually, resulting in 30 mile-long coal trains per day with uncovered coal cars.  Increased coal transport would increase fugitive coal dust and diesel emissions, create the need to double track the rail lines of the gorge and  disrupt local communities. 

To meet this threat, Friends has joined with the Power Past Coal Coalition.  The coalition of 90 groups, including Sierra Club, Climate Solutions, Earth Justice, Greenpeace, Washington Environmental Council and Columbia Riverkeeper, is working to stop coal export proposals from moving forward.  Friends  plays a crucial role within the coalition as the only organization with the sole mission of protecting the Columbia River Gorge, a federally protected area impacted by all five export proposals. Friends’ bi-state voice in the coalition enables us to effectively organize work with elected officials in both states. Friends’ long-standing relationships in many communities facing adverse rail traffic impacts resulted in numerous city and county resolutions and letters against increased coal transport. The broad community and coalition response to this threat inspires civic engagement and effective alliances with a diviersity of constituencies. 

Friends and others have laid considerable ground work securing opposition letters from over 60 communities and elected officials. As the process moved into hearings and reviews of Draft Environmental Impact Statements (EIS), Friends worked with the coalition to expand the scope of the review. Friends recently hired Senator Ron Wyden’s former chief of staff to encourage the Senator (now the chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee) to actively engage in the coal export issue and call for a broader environmental review.   

The Port of Morrow proposal is the first to move forward in Oregon.  Due to pressure from the Power Past Coal Coalition, Ambre Energy was forced to apply to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) for air and water quality permits.  In addition, the Ambre Energy project needs permits from Oregon DSL and the Corps of Engineers prior to construction. The DSL removal and fill permit, which could have been issued as early as April 1, 2013, has been delayed until September 2013.  This is the first permit coal export permit decision, making it a major opposition focus. 

Friends continues to apply pressure on the Governor and the DSL to deny the removal-fill construction permit.  Friends organized elected leaders from The Dalles, Mosier, Hood River and Stevenson to send a letter to the Governor and DSL asking for denial of the removal and fill permit.  They also met with the Governor’s natural resource policy director to advocate for denial.   Friends is organizing Gorge farmers to oppose coal export proposals. Friends cross referenced large donors to Governor Kitzhaber’s last election who are Friends members and worked to request a meeting with the Governor with these donors.

On a broader scale potentially impacting all the coal export proposals, Friends has been collecting accounts of individuals who encounter coal dust coming off trains in the Gorge.  These accounts are being video-recorded and collected in declarations as well as delivered to the press.   Friends and its allies are analyzing coal in the Columbia River and its tributaries for potential violations of the Clean Water Act.

Stop radioactive waste transport proposals through the Gorge.

Friends has monitored this issue throughout this period.  Recently, the Department of Energy announced plans to dispose significant amounts of the nation’s low-level radioactive waste at Hanford.  Friends and Columbia Riverkeeper are co-hosing a community discussion in March about radioactive waste traveling through the Columbia Gorge.   Recent revelations on radioactive leaks from Hanford storage containers are being monitored closely.

Objective: Build public support for long-term Gorge protection

Activism

  • Conduct 80 hikes and outings to educate the public and recruit supporters; and
  • Conduct at least 25 hikes to lesser known waterfalls; and
  • Conduct at least 10 hikes, bike rides and tours to public properties in the Gorge Towns to Trails vision.

Friends continued its successful hiking and outings program. A new addition to the hiking program was launched in Spring 2013: Play and Stay.  Part of the Gorge Towns to Trails concept encouraging recreation blended with economic development, the Play and Stay weekends provide guided outings starting from the same community.  The intent is for hikers to play and stay overnight, enjoying what the commmunity has to offer. 

Friends also launched Flower Frenzy, its 2013 hike challenge. As in previous years, the hike challenges help promote and deepen connections to the Gorge. 

Friends thanks its members, volunteers, and others' efforts to protect the Columbia Gorge for future generations to enjoy.

 

Dec 27, 2012

Third/Fourth Quarter Project Report

In the third quarter of 2012, Friends of the Columbia Gorge experienced both successes and challenges in its ongoing mission to protect and preserve the resources of the Columbia River Gorge. We continued to build support and visibility for our campaign to stop coal trains in the Gorge, won key support for our Gorge Towns to Trails comprehensive trail vision, and celebrated the end of another great hiking challenge.

Here are some of the highlights of the third and fourth quarters of 2012:

- Stop Coal Trains in the Gorge.  The permitting process has begun for various coal export proposals that would transport hundreds of millions of tons of coal annually by rail and barge from the Powder River Basin of Wyoming and Montana to proposed coal terminals in the Pacific Northwest -- all (yes, all) of it through the beautiful, fragile Columbia Gorge. Friends is a very active member of the Power Past Coal coalition, which educates the public and builds community support against the coal export proposals. With the help of our members and volunteers, we turned out hundreds of concerned citizens to a number of Oregon Department of Environmental Quality hearings on coal export, as well as to an important "scoping" hearing in Vancouver, Washington, on the proposed Gateway Pacific coal terminal. These hearings were well covered in the news media, and the no-on-coal message was clearly communicated to decision-makers.

- Gorge Towns to Trails: Making the ConnectionGorge Towns to Trails is a vision for a comprehensive trail system around the Columbia Gorge, linking communities with tourism, and highlighting and enhancing the beauty and wonder of the Columbia Gorge.  Launched in October 2011 at Mosier Plateau, volunteers, funders and the community of Mosier have come together in trail building to connect Pocket Park and Mosier Creek to the Plateau with its Gorge panoramas and Mosier Valley views. 80% of the lands in the Gorge Towns to Trails vision are already in public hands, we are continuing to build community and business support in order to begin the work of linking these trails together.

- Waterfall Wanderlust ends another great year for hiking program.  Friends has a robust hiking program, offering more than 100 treks annually. These trips to see thundering waterfalls, spectacular wildflowers and stunning vistas help bring people closer to the Gorge, know more about it and inspire them to protect it. Each year Friends issues a hiking challenge that runs most of the year. In 2012 our Waterfall Wanderlust challenge inspired hundreds to visit 25 of the Gorge's most amazing, semi-obscure falls. More than 70 entrants completed the challenge!

 

Sep 26, 2012

Second Quarter 2012 Report

In the second quarter of 2012, Friends of the Columbia Gorge experienced both successes and challenges in its ongoing mission to protect and preserve the resources of the Columbia River Gorge. We continued to build support and visibility for our campaign to stop coal trains in the Gorge, won key support for our Gorge Towns to Trails comprehensive trail vision, and celebrated the end of a 20-year effort to reclaim a wild river while simultaneously mobilizing to prevent a threat that would undermine the same river.

Here are some of the highlights of the second quarter of 2012:

- Stop Coal Trains in the Gorge. As coal companies stepped up their public-relations campaign to make the Gorge a rail-and-barge conduit for hundreds of millions of tons of Asia-bound coal, Friends and its allies continued to educate the public and build community support against the coal export proposals. Our side won a significant victory when one of the six pending coal terminal proposals (Grays Harbor, WA) was scrapped. One down, five to go!

- Gorge Towns to Trails: Making the ConnectionGorge Towns to Trails is a vision for a comprehensive trail system around the Columbia Gorge, linking communities with tourism, and highlighting and enhancing the beauty and wonder of the Columbia Gorge.  Launched in October 2011 at Mosier Plateau, volunteers, funders and the community of Mosier have come together in trail building to connect Pocket Park and Mosier Creek to the Plateau with its Gorge panoramas and Mosier Valley views. We have continued to win community and business support for Gorge Towns to Trails and recently won a crucial endorsement letter from a U.S. Congressional delegation that includes all four senators from Oregon and Washington, plus House Rep. Earl Bluemnauer.

- The White Salmon River is free, but fish face a new threat.  For 99 years, Condit Dam blocked the path for salmon trying to swim upstream to their natural spawning waters on Washington's White Salmon. That all changed this past summer. A 20-year effort to remove Condit Dam (it was initially breached in fall 2011) reached a thrilling end when steelhead were observed returning up the newly freed river. Demolition crews recently finished removing the last vestiges of Condit Dam. But unfortunately, the threat of overdevelopment along the White Salmon River could undo this hard-earned victory. Friends is currently taking part in a legal action that seeks to overturn a county decision that would allow higher-density residential development along a crucial stretch of the river. This construction would pose a serious threat to the ecological balance of the river and imperil the returning fish.

 

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Organization

Project Leader

Kevin Gorman

Portland, OR United States

Where is this project located?

Map of Preserve the Wonders of the Columbia Gorge