Public Engagement

Public Engagement
Marty Hughley, Kevin Gorman, Ka'ila Farrell-Smith, Kim Stafford, and Jane Hirshfield discuss the intersection of art and conservation at The Old Church concert hall in Portland, March 27, 2019. (photographer: Brandon Davis)

Building a large and diverse cross-section of public support across the Pacific Northwest is critical to sustaining Friends of the Columbia Gorge's efforts to preserve the Gorge for future generations. Ensuring the Gorge remains a vibrant, living place—wondrous, wild, and open to all—is at the core of what we do. A large cross section of public support is critical if we are to preserve the Columbia Gorge for future generations. To meet this challenge, Friends seeks to strengthen community support for key conservation initiatives, expose local youth to the Gorge’s wonders, and illustrate the Gorge’s significance as an icon of the Pacific Northwest and national treasure.

We regularly lead guided Gorge hikes and outings; organize programs in partnership with local schools to expose hundreds of students from Washington and Oregon to the Gorge’s wonders; and work with community partners to create opportunities for members of the public to come together and discuss pressing challenges facing the Gorge. A vital tool in our broader engagement efforts is the thousands of dedicated Friends members, volunteers, and activists who live in and around the Gorge. Friends works to develop innovative and creative strategies to effectively educate and engage the public in efforts to protect, preserve, and steward the Gorge.

Youth Education & Community Events


Outdoor Youth Education Programs

Outdoor Youth Education Programs

Educating the public about the importance of protecting the Columbia Gorge is part of Friends' mission.

Gorge Webinar Series

Gorge Webinar Series

During the COVID-19 pandemic we engaged the public with the Gorgeous Wildlife series and other webinars; view a playlist.

Fire Forums

Fire Forums

After the 2017 Eagle Creek fire Friends organized a series of community forums about fire ecology and recovery.

Outdoor Access for All Webinar

Outdoor Access for All Webinar

Friends hosted a virtual panel discussion, exploring opportunities and challenges in ensuring equitable access for all on public lands.

Outdoor Programs & Public Education


Hike With Friends

Hike With Friends

Friends offers educational, guided hikes and outings to discover the wonders of the Columbia Gorge.

Ready, Set, GOrge!

Ready, Set, GOrge!

Friends is a community partner in this initiative aimed at improving the visitor experience in the National Scenic Area.

Trail Ambassadors

Trail Ambassadors

We are part of this collaborative effort to engage with Gorge visitors around safety and ethical use of public lands.

Find a Hike

Find a Hike

Search our customizable trail database to plan your next Gorge outing.

Community Partnerships


ChĂșush: Water for Warm Springs Campaign

ChĂșush: Water for Warm Springs Campaign

Friends is in a conservation community partnership with Warm Springs Tribal groups to restore access to and infrastructure for clean water.

Eagle Watch

Eagle Watch

Friends works with partner organizations and agencies to produce pandemic-safe programming about this threatened species' annual wintering in the Gorge.

Friends and Maryhill Museum's Plein Air Partnership

Friends and Maryhill Museum's Plein Air Partnership

In 2019, Friends and the museum located in Goldendale, Washington, began collaborating on public engagement initiatives.

Caretakers of the Gorge

Caretakers of the Gorge

A collaboration between Friends and Swanson Studio pays tribute to the resilience of the Gorge in the aftermath of the Eagle Creek fire.

Festival of Flowers

Festival of Flowers

A partnership between Pioneer Courthouse Square, architectural firm Walker Macy, and Friends brings the Gorge to downtown Portland.

Engagement Through Art


Friends' Annual Photo Contest

Friends' Annual Photo Contest

Friends has held an annual photo contest since 2015, showcasing the Gorge's beauty, wonder, and vibrancy.

Gorge Haiku Challenge

Gorge Haiku Challenge

The challenge was launched in spring 2020 to stay connected virtually and celebrate the Gorge's wonders safely from home.

Conservation in Verse

Conservation in Verse

The intersection of art and conservation was explored at this sold-out 2019 event co-sponsored by Friends and Terrain.org.