Take steps to leave the Columbia River Gorge better than you found it
Everyone can take steps to help protect the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Here are some ways that you can show your love of the Gorge and be a steward of this place we all treasure.
- Leave no trace by packing out your trash and picking up litter you find. Make sure you return home with everything you brought, including sandwich bags, wrappers and other debris. Better yet, carry a trash bag with you and use it to pick up litter you find along the trail. This, along with other Leave No Trace Principles, is a simple way to have a huge impact.
- Protect vital habitat by staying on designated trails. Shortcuts and side trails can be very inviting, but veering off-trail is damaging to the forest floor, causing erosion and creating an eyesore on the landscape. Stay on designated trails. Also, avoid widening trails by stepping aside when you encounter other users on the trail.
- Stop the spread of invasive species by using a boot brush. Noxious weeds are overly aggressive and difficult to manage, and can be carriers or hosts of serious insects or diseases. In most cases, noxious weeds have a direct, negative impact on native plants. Historically, humans have been the chief vector (transmitter) of noxious plants. The U.S. Forest Service, Friends of the Columbia Gorge and the Skamania County Weed Board have installed boot brushes at numerous trailheads around the Gorge. Please check them out and use them before and after using the trail. Take the pledge.
- Support a local nonprofit, or better yet, volunteer. Encompassing 293,000 acres, the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area is home to dozens of nonprofits that are working to protect the public resources we love. These resources include U.S. Forest Service trails, state parks, national wildlife refuges, Native American cultural resources, historic structures, scenic viewpoints, Wild and Scenic rivers and more. Here’s a great article written by Laura Foster, author of Gorge Getaways, about nonprofits in the Gorge.
- Stay a while – Get to know the communities of the Gorge. While you can explore part of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area in a day, you would be missing out on countless experiences to be had in the area’s 13 hospitable towns. From the historic downtowns of Stevenson and The Dalles to the waterfront parks of Cascade Locks and Hood River to the farm stands, wineries and galleries spread throughout the region, there’s so much to see and do that you’ll want to stay a few days. Use the resources on this page to plan your trip, or pick up a copy of Gorge Getaways.
- Do you know a Gorge Hero? Please share your pictures and stories of Gorge stewards on social media by tagging your post with #readysetgorge.
Photo: Friends of the Columbia Gorge stewardship volunteers celebrate a day of removing invasive plants along the trail to Angels Rest. This trail remains closed to the public due to safety concerns.