The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area is the largest in the U.S., covering more than 80 miles of forest, hills and bluffs in Oregon and southwest Washington. Friends of the Columbia Gorge is a conservation nonprofit that was instrumental in getting the federal government to declare the region a National Scenic Area 40 years ago, and has worked to protect its scenic resources which draw roughly 2 million people a year to recreate there. The organization is also spearheading an ambitious effort to connect communities throughout the gorge in a 200-mile trail loop. The Gorge Towns to Trails initiative aims to “promote alternative transportation options,” reduce congestion at popular trailheads and introduce hikers to less-visited areas of the gorge.
Gorge Towns to Trails project manager Renée Tkach joins us to walk a bit of the trail and talk about its progress so far. D’na Chase, a Cherokee Nation tribal member and land trustee with Friends of the Columbia Gorge, also shares her vision for engaging the gorge’s many Indigenous communities in projects like Towns to Trails.
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