News and Updates
Gorge panel mulls budget
July 29, The Dalles Chronicle - The Gorge Commission is finessing a budget request it hopes will boost its staffing – but just how much money to ask for is still being weighed.
Proposed rules aim to prevent deadly fires on rail lines
July 24, Associated Press - Responding to a series of fiery train crashes, the government proposed rules Wednesday that would phase out tens of thousands of older tank cars that carry increasing quantities of crude oil and other highly flammable liquids through America’s towns and cities.
Hiking the Gorge With Kids
July issue of MetroParent magazine - Friends staff member and parent Stan Hall writes about taking his young son hiking in the Gorge and recommends five Gorge hikes for kids.
PRESS RELEASE: Gorge Commission passes resolution against coal and oil trains
July 18 - The Columbia River Gorge Commission has passed a resolution against the transport of coal and explosive oil through the Columbia River Gorge in Washington and Oregon.
The Dirt on Tesoro
July 10, Sightline Institute - Oil company Tesoro, which is pushing for a massive new oil terminal at the Port of Vancouver, has a track record of flouting environmental and safety laws.
WA Gov. Inslee issues oil train directive
June 12, the Columbian - Gov. Jay Inslee directed state agencies Thursday to tackle mounting public safety concerns and develop an oil spill response plan as train traffic continues to increase, particularly in Southwest Washington.
Vancouver City Council approves resolutions opposing Tesoro-Savage project
June 3, the Columbian - Close to 700 people attended a Vancouver City Council meeting Monday, and a majority of speakers urged councilors to fight an oil-handling facility at the Port of Vancouver.
PRESS RELEASE: Port of Vancouver oil terminal would violate state and local laws
May 28 - Local residents, groups cite incomplete application and potential hazards; call for more study, greater public involvement
Troutdale Energy Center appeals order in contested case
May 6, Gresham Outlook - The contested case challenging the Troutdale Energy Center has taken a few small steps forward.
Fiery oil train accidents heighten scrutiny of major Vancouver, WA rail terminal
April 11, The Oregonian - ...(F)ora planned terminal in Vancouver, a series of fiery oil train explosions has expanded opposition and heightened scrutiny of a project promising to be a bellwether for a growing number of facilities in development along the West Coast.
New Gorge Commission Recreation Committee sees high interest from community
April 8, Hood River News - A new committee created specifically to address the high demands of the recreation landscape throughout the Columbia River Gorge gained ample attention from community groups and landowners at its first meeting.
Ambre Energy again asks Oregon for permit delay on coal-trains-and-barges project
April 1, The Oregonian - Ambre Energy, the Australian company proposing to build a coal export terminal in Boardman, has requested another permit delay from the state of Oregon.
PRESS RELEASE: Northwest job creators urge Gov. Kitzhaber to oppose coal exports, reject Ambre Energy proposal
March 20, Power Past Coal - Business leaders and economic experts from Oregon and Washington today...called for a full economic analysis of proposals in the Northwest, citing the economic risks that the proposed terminals would have for local industry like agriculture, recreation, and fishing.
Hearing is step one on fate of power plant
March 11, Gresham Outlook - Pilots groups, conservationists and local residents have petitioned a New-York based energy company’s proposal to build a gas-fired power plant in Troutdale...
Winter's end in sight as Friends announces Spring/Summer hike program
February 27 - From March 15 to July 20, Friends of the Columbia Gorge will lead 67 educational hikes and outings.
PRESS RELEASE: Broad scope for Longview coal terminal evaluation announced
February 12, Power Past Coal - Today, the Washington State Department of Ecology and Cowlitz County announced a broad scope of their Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed coal export terminal in Longview in southwest Washington State.
Troutdale power plant runs into opposition
January 28, Portland Tribune - Several groups with stakes in environmental and air quality in the Columbia River Gorge are contesting a New York-based company’s proposal to build a gas-fired power plant in Troutdale.
PRESS RELEASE: “Coal Train Blues” Music Video Calls Attention to Threat of Coal Export Proposals
January 22 - Today, Friends of the Columbia Gorge, in coordination with the Power Past Coal coalition and the Portland-based Johnny Cash tribute band Counterfeit Cash, released an online music video called “Coal Train Blues.”
Rock smashes through Benson Bridge at Multnomah Falls
The Oregonian, January 9 - The iconic Benson Bridge at Multnomah Falls will remain closed indefinitely after a large rock crashed through the bridge deck and damaged the handrail, forest service officials said Thursday.
Judge: Lawsuit over uncovered coal trains can proceed
The Spokesman-Review, January 3 - A federal judge in Eastern Washington ruled that a lawsuit filed by environmental groups against BNSF Railway over uncovered coal trains can proceed.
Port of Vancouver oil terminal plan draws 31,000 comments
The Columbian, December 18 - "People of Vancouver have a real choice here in what their future looks like and what direction they want to go in," said Michael Lang, conservation director with Friends of the Columbia Gorge.
2014 Peter Marbach Gorge wall calendar available for purchase
Tuesday, December 3 - Photographer and Friends supporter Peter Marbach's new calendar of stunning, all-seasonal Gorge landscapes is now available while supplies last. The purchase price includes shipping and handling, and goes toward protecting and enhancing the Gorge. A limited supply of calendars is available, so get yours today.
PRESS RELEASE: Oregonians call on Gov. Kitzhaber to use state authority to deny coal export project planned in Oregon
Power Past Coal Coalition, October 3 - Conservation, public health, and faith-based groups say federal inaction now requires the Governor to get tough on coal exports plans on the Columbia River
New poll shows majority of WA and OR residents oppose coal exports
September 16 - A new poll shows a majority of voters in both Washington (51%) and Oregon (54%) oppose the proposed plans to export coal from Northwest ports, with a majority of moderate, and liberal and a large number of independent voters voicing opposition.
PRESS RELEASE: Fall into Hiking this Autumn with Friends of the Columbia Gorge
August 26 - Quiet trails, vibrant fall colors, and cool temperatures make autumn an ideal hiking season with Friends of the Columbia Gorge.
Bellingham coal facility to face more agency scrutiny
July 31, Sustainable Business Oregon - Agencies examining the proposed Cherry Point coal terminal in Bellingham will undertake extensive studies as they weigh the value of the proposed facility.
Friends' Picnic In Paradise
Sunday, July 21 - Our annual summer picnic in the Gorge will feature two live bands, a delicious potluck, and socializing with other Gorge enthusiasts.
Hundreds turn out for hearing on Columbia River coal plan
July 9, EarthFix - Hundreds of people turned out in Portland and Hermiston, OR, for simultaneously held hearings on a proposal to transport coal by train to the Columbia River so it can be shipped to Asia.
Washington Supreme Court Hears Wind Farm Case
June 27, EarthFix - The Supreme Court of Washington Thursday heard arguments in a case about a controversial wind farm in the Columbia River Gorge. Then-Gov. Chris Gregoire approved the project more than a year ago. Environmentalists say it will harm wildlife, recreation, and scenic views. Friends of the Columbia Gorge, an environmental advocacy group, says the Washington Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council did not take the right steps to make sure migratory and endangered wildlife would be kept safe.
PRESS RELEASE: New poll - Oregonians oppose coal exports through the Columbia Gorge
Portland, June 27, 2013 - In a new poll of 725 Oregon voters, a six-point statewide plurality initially opposes coal exports through the Columbia River Gorge, and opposition grows to a double-digit majority as voters hear more information on both sides of the issue.
Army Corps says no to broad review of coal exports
June 18, the Oregonian - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will not conduct an all-encompassing review of the three coal export projects proposed in the Northwest, rejecting requests from Oregon and Washington's governors and project opponents.
Judge blocks rezone on White Salmon River
June 10, the Columbian - A Clark County Superior Court judge has blocked the rezoning of more than 1,000 acres of land along the White Salmon River, handing a victory to environmental groups who had challenged the move because they say it threatened a sensitive watershed.
PRESS RELEASE: BNSF Railways, coal shippers sued in federal court for water contamination violations
Seattle, June 5 - Today, the Sierra Club, Friends of the Columbia Gorge, and its partners filed suit against Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Company (BNSF) and several coal companies for violations of the federal Clean Water Act.
Oregon regulators issue first draft permits for coal export from the Northwest
May 31, the Oregonian - Oregon regulators Friday issued the first draft permits needed to allow coal export from the Northwest, giving an initial nod to Ambre Energy's plans to build an export terminal at the Port of Morrow along the Columbia River.
Kinder Morgan drops plans to build coal terminal at Port of St. Helens
May 8, the Oregonian - Terminal developer Kinder Morgan will not go forward with a proposal to export coal to Asia from the Port Westward industrial park on the Columbia River, a company spokesman said this morning.
Gorge wind farm project headed for high court
May 1, the Columbian - More than a year after its approval, a proposed wind farm in the Columbia River Gorge remains in legal limbo, headed for a date with the Washington Supreme Court.
Blumenauer, DeFazio call for EIS on Ambre coal export project
April 22 - In a strongly-worded letter to the Army Corp of Engineers, U.S. Represenatatives Earl Blumenauer and Peter DeFazio of Oregon called for the preparation of an environmental impact statement for the proposed coal export facility sited in the Port of Morrow.
PRESS RELEASE: Friends and partner groups file intent to sue notice over coal dust in waterways
Seattle, April 2 - The Sierra Club and its partners sent a 60-day notice of intent to sue to Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway (BNSF) and several coal companies for violations of the federal Clean Water Act.
Port's coal project grinds to a halt
April 1, Coos Bay World - A project aiming to ship U.S. coal to Asia through the Port of Coos Bay is dead, after an exclusive negotiating agreement between the port and a California terminal operator expired Sunday.
OPINION: I hear the (coal) train a comin'
March 31, the Oregonian - Columnist Steve Duin issues a strong rebuke to what he sees as buck-passing by Gov. John Kitzhaber (OR) and Gov. Jay Inslee (WA) on coal exports.
Coal exporter Ambre Energy faces 5-month delay on Oregon permit
March 14, the Oregonian - Ambre Energy, the company trying to be first to export coal through the Northwest to Asia, has reluctantly agreed to a five-month delay of a decision on its Oregon permit.
Friends of Columbia Gorge offer "Flower Frenzy" hike
March 1, The Dalles Chronicle - Friends of the Columbia Gorge Spring Hiking series has added two new twists this year: Flower Frenzy, a wildflower challenge to educate hikers on the flowers of the gorge and Play & Stay, five weekend packages to encourage gorge hikers to lodge overnight in gorge communities.
Travel Oregon gives money for sustainable tourism
February 28, Sustainable Business Journal - The most ardent tourism booster in Oregon is giving money to state communities working on sustainability related opportunities.
PRESS RELEASE: Spring Hikes offer wildflower challenge, overnight stays
February 20 - Friends' Spring Hiking series has added two new twists this year: Flower Frenzy, a wildflower challenge to educate hikers on the flowers of the Gorge and Play & Stay, five weekend packages to encourage Gorge hikers to lodge overnight in Gorge communities.
Sightline Institute: Ambre Energy "barely qualifies as coal company," has "deeply troubled finances"
February 13 - A report by Seattle-based environmental think tank Sightline Institute calls into question the financial viability of the Australian company seeking approval for two coal export proposals in the Pacific Northwest.
OPINION: Coal transport comments needed now
January 11, Hood River News - Hood River resident and Friends of the Columbia Gorge board member Polly Wood urges citizens to participate in public comment period for coal export proposals.
Coal export opponents dominate Vancouver hearing
Wednesday, December 12, Oregon Public Broadcasting - Close to 700 people turned out Wednesday night for a public hearing on the Gateway Pacific Terminal, which could be built near Bellingham, WA. The people who oppose the Gateway Pacific coal export terminal greatly outnumbered those who favor the plan.
PRESS RELEASE: Hazardous coal dust plagues Gorge residents
Wednesday, December 12 - Columbia Gorge residents are reporting that coal from coal trains is regularly blown off of open-top coal cars, pelting anyone near the railroad tracks, creating hazards for people driving on Washington Highway 14 and polluting environmentally sensitive areas.
Oregon DEQ fields questions about coal export proposals at Portland hearing
Friday, December 7, Oregon Public Broadcasting - The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality fielded questions about coal exports from a room of about 800 people in Portland on Dec. 6. The agency held the last in a series of informational meetings on the air and water quality permits Ambre Energy needs to build a coal export terminal at the Port of Morrow in Boardman.
Coal port debate packs Squalicum High School
October 27, Bellingham WA - The first of seven public hearings regarding a proposed coal export terminal attracted 1,800 concerned citizens. Under the proposal, 18 additional mile-and-half long uncovered coal trains per day would travel through the Columbia River Gore.
PRESS RELEASE: Skamania County Decision Leaves Thousands of Acres of Land Unzoned and Unprotected
September 20, Stevenson, WA - Conservation groups Save Our Scenic Area and Friends of the Columbia Gorge have filed suit challenging a Skamania County Commission decision to lift a development moratorium from thousands of acres of unzoned land in Skamania County.
PRESS RELEASE: Friends of the Columbia Gorge unveils Fall Hikes
August 29 - On September 8, Friends kicks off its seven-week season of 36 outings including hikes, bike rides, stewardship work parties and driving tours. In addition, this is also the final push for the Waterfall Wanderlust Hike Challenge, which ends October 31.
Friends and allies hold press conference on coal exports; Portland Commissioner Amanda Fritz to introduce resolution
August 28, the Oregonian - At an anti-coal rally today in front of the Portland office of the Army Corps of Engineers, City Commissioner Amanda Fritz said she will bring a resolution to the City Council Sept. 19 "to oppose coal trains coming through the city of Portland."
Friends responds to Gorge Commission director's report on open space logging
August 21 - Friends of the Columbia Gorge sent a letter today to the Columbia River Gorge Commission responding to the report prepared by the Gorge Commission's executive director regarding the logging that took place earlier this year on lands zoned as General Management Area (GMA) Open Space. Logging is prohibited on lands designated as Open Space. The Gorge Commission Director’s report does acknowledge that logging is prohibited on Open Space lands, but did not objectively investigate the Commission staff’s role in allowing the logging to go forward. The report is contradicted by public records showing that Commission staff advised county and state agencies that the logging was allowed, even though Scenic Area regulations prohibit logging in Open Space. The Commission staff’s actions could lead to more logging on the most treasured landscapes in the Columbia Gorge.
Sen. Wyden hears concerns of citizens, activists about coal exports
August 13 - Over 400 citizens and activists of Friends of the Columbia Gorge and coalition partners were present as U.S. Senator Ron Wyden held a listening session to discuss the impact of the Trans Pacific Partnership on the Pacific Northwest economy, including energy exports like coal.
Three members join Columbia River Gorge Commission
August 9 - The Columbia River Gorge Commission has announced the appointment of three new members: Janet Wainwright, Bowen Blair, and Gorham Blaine.
Opposition to coal exports grows
July 25 - This month, a statement signed by 130 physicians was released opposing proposed coal export facilities. The statement cites serious health concerns in five major areas:
Gorge Commission director's report on clearcut furthers concerns
July 25 - Five months after being notified that illegal logging was occurring on lands zoned as Open Space, the most protective zoning in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, the Gorge Commission executive director has issued a written public report "investigating" the illegal logging.
Friends files appeal against development along White Salmon River
July 2, Oregon Public Broadcasting - Conservation groups are suing Klickitat County over potential development they argue could damage sensitive habitat along the White Salmon River.
Friends advocates for enforcement of laws after Gorge clearcut
June 26, Daily Journal of Commerce - When a tree falls in the forest, it can make a lot of noise regardless of who is around to hear it, especially when zoning codes are called into question post harvest. That’s the story behind a 110-acre clear cut near the city of Mosier that is causing some rumblings among citizens who believe the land was logged illegally. But whether those complaints are accurate is open for debate and interpretations vary widely.
Illegal Logging Destroys Gorge Landscape
The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and SDS Lumber Company have clearcut 110 acres of forest on steep slopes near the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail. The clearcut reaches from top of the ridge to within 200 feet of the trail, creating a tremendous scar on the landscape visible from four designated key viewing areas in the Gorge.
Anti-Coal Rally Draws Hundreds to Downtown Portland
May 7 - Prominent environmental lawyer and advocate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. addressed a rally today at Portland's Pioneer Courthouse Square, urging people of the Northwest to fight coal exports. "Opening up Oregon and Washington to coal trafficking is insane," said Kennedy. "Coal is the dirtiest fuel on Earth and our nation is counting on the Pacific Northwest to do the right thing."
Advocacy groups challenge wind farm approval
April 5, The Columbian - Two advocacy groups this week filed a legal challenge against the Whistling Ridge Energy Project, hoping to block the Skamania County wind farm approved by Gov. Chris Gregoire last month.
PRESS RELEASE: Appeal Challenges Washington Governor’s Approval of Controversial Wind Energy Project
April 5 - Yesterday Friends of the Columbia Gorge and Save Our Scenic Area filed a petition for judicial review in the Thurston County Superior Court, challenging Washington Governor Christine Gregoire’s approval of the Whistling Ridge Energy Project, the most controversial wind energy project ever proposed in Washington State.
Localite TV Interviews Friends' Executive Director Kevin Gorman
July 20, 2011 - Kevin speaks on his time at Friends and the history and successes of 25 years of the National Scenic Area Act.
Friends and Allies Secure PGE Boardman Closure, Pollution Controls, $2.5 Million Restoration Fund
July 19, 2011 - The groundbreaking agreement assures the end of coal-burning at the Boardman, OR plant by 2020, as well as major reductions in haze-causing pollutants before then.
Columbia Gorge Scenic Area Protection Marks 25th Anniversary
June 20, 2011, Portland Examiner - The Gorge might be dotted with McMansions, resorts, marinas, casinos and trailer parks if it were not for federal legislation enacted 25 years ago.
Grant's Getaways: Columbia River Gorge 25th Anniversary Video
May 5, 2011 - KGW's Grant McOmie pays tribute to 25 years of Gorge protection with this beautiful and entertaining video.