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Be a Part of the Gorge Trails Recovery Team

Posted by abredl at Oct 17, 2017 05:18 PM |

There is no question as to why the Gorge is seen as a gateway to all outdoor adventure. Over the past month this beautiful place has been devastated by intense wildfire. Now is the time to rebuild! Learn how you can help be apart of the trail restoration efforts in the Columbia River Gorge.

The iconic Columbia River Gorge, marking the border of Washington and Oregon, is seen as a gateway to many forms of outdoor adventure. Not many places can match the Columbia River Gorge’s abundance of forests, sweeping views, mountain peaks and fast flowing waters that make for some of the most picturesque waterfalls in this region of the country.

It's a beloved area for locals and visitors alike, which is just one reason summer wildfire season has been so devastating: fires have caused major destruction to the local communities. The wildfires also badly damaged forest and soil structures, leaving many of the popular trails closed for an unknown amount of time.

30086221536_578306d60a_z.jpgTrails line both sides of the beloved Columbia River Gorge. Photo by Jessica Tanner

The hiking community watched more than 75 square miles of forest burn this summer. The Eagle Creek Fire in particular, caused serious damage to some of the most popular hikes in the Gorge including: Angel’s Rest Trailhead, Eagle Creek Trailhead, Multnomah Falls, and the Oneonta Gorge.

Many believe that it could take years for the local recreation economy to bounce back, and trail restoration will play a vital role. Since the fires started burning, we've heard from hikers and volunteers who want to help with the effort.

Build Skills while helping the gorge

To help facilitate those volunteers interested in learning about restoration recovery, Washington Trails Association has partnered with the Mt. Hood Chapter of the Pacific Crest Trail Association, Trailkeepers of Oregon, Friends of the Gorge, and the Forest Service to form the Gorge Trails Recovery Team. As a collective we have put together a series of fall classes to prepare volunteers for the work to come. While the Oregon side remains closed for now, our efforts will be focused on the Washington side, which is in demand of much needed attention and will provide as an excellent learning environment for the future restoration efforts.

Our friends at Pacific Crest Trail Association have launched a series of classes and work parties that will run into November and beyond.

“These classes are intended for 2 types of volunteers," says the PCTA. "Novice trail maintainers, and those with some experience who are interested in becoming crew leaders.”

  • Find a list of upcoming trainings and work parties (including some this weekend) with our friends at PCTA, all of which are good opportunities to get involved with the recovery efforts of the Columbia River Gorge.
  • Additionally, you can volunteer at any one of WTA’s upcoming trail maintenance work parties in the southwest region. Come join us on the trail all winter long, and learn some trail maintenance techniques that allow you to give back to the places you love to hike! No experience is needed.
  • Interested in working on the Oregon-side trails? Work will likely begin in summer of next year, after the full extent of the damage has been better assessed. Trailkeepers of Oregon have upcoming work parties and workshops posted both in and around the Gorge for you to further gain skills needed when the time comes.

7158174477_7a155d2347_z.jpgVolunteers show off their work on to reroute and restore the Little Maui Trail near Coyote Wall on the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge. Photo by WTA staff.