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PORTLAND, OR – Friends of the Columbia Gorge announced a $10,000 today to support the launch of Oregon's Kitchen Table's "Be There for The Gorge" campaign. The planned six-week crowdfunding effort seeks to gather funds to help the U.S. Forest Service rebuild trails between Multnomah Falls and Angel's Rest damaged in the 2017 Eagle Creek fire.
"The Eagle Creek fire struck the heart of the Gorge," said Kevin Gorman, executive director of Friends of the Columbia Gorge. "Multnomah Falls and Angel's Rest trails are two of the most treasured recreation areas in the Pacific Northwest. Our gift today is a way for Friends' members to play a leadership role in an ambitious community effort to help to take back some of what was lost in the fire and seize the opportunity to make some of these cherished places even better than before," Gorman added.
"This contribution from Friends of the Columbia Gorge on behalf of its members is a wonderful demonstration of how meaningful it is for all Oregonians -- and people from around the world even -- to have a chance to come together and give back to this wonderful place," said Wendy Willis, director of Oregon's Kitchen Table. "The crowdfund provides an opportunity for all of us to give what we can and share with one another what the Gorge and these trails mean to us. It will take all of us to restore these trails and be good stewards, and we're grateful to have partners like Friends of the Columbia Gorge helping make sure that happens through this crowdfund," Willis noted.
According to U.S. Forest Service and partner experts, post-fire hazards seen during initial trail assessments have included smoldering stump holes, standing dead trees weakened by fire, and rock fall and debris flow across trails. Funds raised by the crowdfunding campaign will help in mobilizing the needed experts and highly trained volunteers -- including from groups such as Trailkeepers of Oregon -- to work with federal and state agencies to repair trails in burned areas.
"I have walked several of the Gorge trails that have succumbed to the flames and it will take a collective of dedicated land managers and partners backed by a supportive community to see those trails restored," said Steve Kruger, executive director of Trailkeepers of Oregon.
"Witnessing the fire's damage has been powerful, but it pales in comparison to what we can accomplish together in the response. Angel’s Rest was Trailkeepers' first official trail work party, back in 2008. Our volunteers have come back every year since, and we look forward to again hitting the ground and working with the Forest Service to restore these trails that we love and know so well," Kruger stressed.
Friends of the Columbia Gorge has teamed up with Oregon’s Kitchen Table, a statewide platform for engaging Oregonians and fundraising for public projects across the state. The group has led numerous crowdfunding efforts over the past four years, including efforts to a help build a footbridge on Portland's Forest Park's Wildwood Trail. Members of the public seeking to contribute to the "Be There for The Gorge" campaign can do so online at: oregonskitchentable.org/gorge
Update, March 12, 2018: Today, Friends made an additional $20,000 gift to the campaign, which ends on March 15