25th Anniversary of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area

December 2, 2011

The Trust for Public Land is proud to have been at the forefront of conserving this iconic landscape. On November 17, 1986, the Columbia River Gorge was permanently protected by the National Scenic Area Act. The Act created an 85-mile long, 290,000-acre protected area full of natural, scenic and cultural wonders. The Trust for Public Land is proud to have conserved 17,000 acres of this spectacular landscape.

Key to this effort was Nancy Russell—her efforts to protect The Gorge are legendary. Nancy’s vision, leadership and determination to permanently conserve this unique, ecologically diverse landscape supporting five major ecosystems is unparalleled. Nancy worked closely with TPL, for a time as a board member, provided funding for many land purchases, and also bought more than 30 parcels of land on her own.

Imagine what could have happened—the scenic overlooks that attract about 2 million people from across the country and around the world every year could have been owned by a few with little public access. The Nancy Russell overlook (dedicated in her memory in 2011) on the Cape Horn Trail is a great example. The area had been purchased by Rim View Estates for development, and one large home was built before The Trust for Public stepped in and purchased the property. (The home has since been removed.) Read more in "Return to Cape Horn," Land&People, Spring/Summer 2009.

Looking forward, The Trust for Public Land is actively setting the vision for the Willamette Valley and Central Oregon so that economic development and conservation can coexist. Interested in learning more? Call Geoff Roach, Oregon State Director, at 971-244-4103.