The Eagle Creek fire has closed most trails from Wyeth to Troutdale.

DC Crowdfunding Startup Works With Friends on Preserve the Wonder Campaign

DC Crowdfunding Startup Works With Friends on Preserve the Wonder Campaign
At Cape Horn Vista, one of the seven Preserve the Wonder properties. (photographer: Debbie Asakawa)

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Encompassing the second oldest national scenic area in the U.S., the Columbia Gorge was struck in 2017 by a devastating fire that started near the Eagle Creek trailhead. Conserve With Us, a DC-based, crowdfunding startup, is working with Friends of the Columbia Gorge—an Oregon-based conservation group—to help complete an ambitious land conservation campaign to protect over 400 acres along the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge. Friends recently announced it had crossed the $5 million mark in its $5.5 million Preserve the Wonder campaign.
 
"I'll never forget the first time I visited the Columbia Gorge. We left Portland and stopped at the Vista House. I was struck speechless and grateful that such an incredible landscape was just beyond the city limits," said Conserve With Us cofounder Ian Rinehart. "About every three days, land the size of Manhattan is lost to development across America. We're creating technology to help people and communities protect the land, water, and wildlife they love, before they disappear. We're proud to be building tools that help Friends in its campaign to help permanently protect over 400 acres of land in the Columbia Gorge," Rinehart stressed.
 
Gaining headlines around the nation, the 2017 Eagle Creek fire ultimately scorched over 48,000 acres on both sides of the Columbia River, which separates the states of Oregon and Washington. The last fire to jump the Columbia and burn forest on both sides of the Gorge was the 1902 Yacolt Burn.
 
Friends is collaborating with Conserve With Us to combine the latest tools from the crowdfunding world with proven land-conservation strategies in an effort to engage people across America in the effort to help protect the Columbia Gorge for future generations. Two Friends donors have offered to match all public donations, dollar-for-dollar, raised by Friends to help complete the crowdfunding campaign.
 
"The Columbia Gorge is a national treasure and icon of the Pacific Northwest. But as the Eagle Creek fire demonstrated last year, it's also a natural treasure we can't afford to take for granted," Friends Executive Director Kevin Gorman added. "Every year millions of people from across America travel here to the Pacific Northwest to enjoy the Gorge. Collaborating with the Conserve With Us team is a great opportunity for us to reach a much broader audience in our efforts help ensure the Gorge remains wild and beautiful."
 
Launched by Co-Founders Ian Rinehart and Dylan Lewis in 2017, Conserve With Us is an online matchmaking platform designed to engage millions of Americans in a national movement to support regional land conservation initiatives. Conserve With Us was recently selected as one of eight tech startups to participate in the Georgetown-based Halcyon Incubator for social entrepreneurship.
 
Friends' Preserve the Wonder campaign is the culmination of over a decade of planning to identify properties with the most scenic landscapes, crucial wildlife habitat and best recreational opportunities for potential conservation. Long-term benefits of the effort include opportunities such as increasing salmon resting habitat near the Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge and enhancing trails systems supporting the Gorge's majestic Cape Horn Vista.
 
Members of the public interested in making a gift to the campaign can do so online via Conserve With Us' crowdfunding platform at: conservewith.us/GorgeFriends. As part of the matching-gift pledge, all public donations to the Preserve the Wonder campaign will be matched, until Friends reaches its $250,000 goal—giving Friends the final $500,000 needed, in total, to complete the $5.5 million campaign. The campaign is expected to end by June 30.
 
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Conserve With Us is a conservation crowdfunding platform that helps people and communities connect with conservation nonprofits known as land trusts to conserve land, water, and wildlife. Conserve With Us’ goal is to democratize conservation fundraising by making it easier and more inclusive. Learn more at conservewith.us

Friends of the Columbia Gorge is a nonprofit organization with over 8,000 members dedicated to protecting and enhancing the scenic, natural, cultural, and recreational resources of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Friends maintain an office in Portland, OR as well as in two Gorge towns: Hood River, OR and Washougal, WA. 

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