The National Forest Foundation (NFF), the nonprofit partner of the U.S. Forest Service, has created an opportunity for interested citizens to donate to public lands recovery efforts in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area (CRGNSA) stemming from the Eagle Creek Fire.
At the Eagle Creek Restoration Fund website, donations will be accepted to fund high-priority, post-fire recovery projects, including reopening hiking trails, restoring wildlife habitat, and planting new trees. The NFF will work with the Forest Service to match funds and allocate donations to local partner organizations or local contractors.
“This has been a particularly bad fire season across the Pacific Northwest with many active fires burning in forests and near communities,” said Patrick Shannon, the NFF’s Pacific Northwest Director.
The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area is a special place for so many people and we want to create a way that individuals and businesses can contribute to help recovery efforts once the fire is finally out.
The Eagle Creek Fire started on Sept. 2 and has grown to more than 35,000 acres, encompassing some of the most iconic and beloved recreation sites on the CRGNSA, including Eagle Creek Recreation Area, Multnomah Falls, and the historic Columbia River Highway. The fire has forced evacuations and has closed Interstate 84 through the Columbia River Gorge.
“The Forest Service is using all available resources to put out this fire so evacuated residents can return home and businesses can reopen,” said Pacific Northwest Regional Forester Jim Peña.
We deeply appreciate the outpouring of support from the public as we work with partners and volunteers to begin the restoration effort. So many communities have been impacted by fire across the region, so organizations stepping up in this way adds critical capacity to our ability to respond to the needs of not only the Gorge, but other communities as well.
Fighting wildfires continues to consume significant portions of the Forest Service’s annual budget, and this season is proving especially costly. Those expenditures reduce funding for post-fire recovery and other forest management efforts that reduce fire risk, protect watersheds, improve wildlife habitat, and provide accessible recreation opportunities to the public.
“There will be a lot of hard work to come, but we know many people are anxious to help,” said Columbia River Gorge Commission Executive Director Krystyna Wolniakowski. “We are very supportive of this opportunity to engage companies, organizations, and individuals to assist the Forest Service in clean up, restoration, and other priority projects.”
“Post-fire recovery efforts often comes long after the fire is put out and the media stop covering the story,” explained the NFF’s Shannon. “By offering this opportunity now, we hope to provide an accountable and legitimate way for interested individuals and businesses to help this area recover in the coming months and years.”
As the non-profit partner to the U.S. Forest Service, the NFF is a 501c3 organization and all contributions are tax deductible. For every $1 that is donated, $0.85 will go to on the ground restoration efforts.
Updated information on the Eagle Creek Fire can be found on Inciweb.