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 Connection. Gorge 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!