On a clear day, from the top of Angel’s Rest there’s a panoramic view of the Columbia River Gorge – sky blue water scattered with islands, fragrant fir trees, and distant mountains. This summer I was lucky enough to hike that trail twice.
But today is not a clear day. Our skies are still thick with smoke. A forest fire rages in the Gorge, threatening not just forests and wildlife, but homes and livestock.
We each have memories of the Gorge — hiking the trails, boating on the river, or cooling off at the base of a waterfall to escape the city heat. It’s a hard reality that parts of this landscape will be altered for decades.
While it won’t be the same as before, for this ecosystem, it is a new beginning. Restoring it will take time and effort. Trees must be replanted. Hiking trails must be cleared. One day soon I hope to again hike to Angel’s Rest to enjoy the beauty of the Columbia River Gorge.
Our hearts go out to the people in the path of the fire – our neighbors and friends who had to quickly pack and evacuate. I hope that each in our own way can find ways to reach out and help.
It’s amazing to watch the brave men and women working to fight this blaze and ensure public safety. While others evacuated, they attacked the fire, building fire lines, guiding water drops, rescuing stranded hikers, and defending structures.
Their effort is a wonderful example of seamless collaboration, as National Guard troops and local fire districts worked side-by-side with natural resource agencies like the BLM, the Forest Service, and the Oregon Department of Forestry.
We owe these fire fighters heartfelt thanks for taking a personal risk to protect the historic Multnomah Falls Lodge and natural resources in the area. I urge each of you to take the time to say thank you to these local heroes who give their all for the rest of us.