Scenic Columbia Gorge Property Protected

A 159-acre property in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area in Washington, has been protected, the Trust for Public Land and U.S. Forest Service announced today.

The announcement finishes the acquisition of 1,963 acres of forest land in Klickitat County in the Major Creek drainage, which runs into the Columbia River.

The Trust for Public Land bought the land from Plum Creek Timber Company and sold it to the Forest Service in two parts over three years.  The Forest Service said protection of the land was a priority because it was an inholding, which means it had been privately-owned land within the federally protected area.

Kristin Kovalik, The Trust for Public Land senior project manager, said, “We have worked to protect land in the Columbia Gorge since 1979.  This latest project helps protect public access and great scenery, along with an important migration corridor for wildlife.”

Ms. Kovalik added, “Since we began working in the Gorge, we have protected more than 17,200 acres, in more than 65 projects. Some of our best projects were the Cape Horn scenic outlook and the 6,000-acre Dalles Mountain Ranch at the eastern end of the Gorge.”

The $1.89 million needed to buy the entire 1,963 acres came from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which comes from money paid by oil companies to drill for oil and gas offshore.  The LWCF program is strongly supported by Sens. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Maria Cantwell, D-Wash..

“Washington residents take great pride in our state’s tremendous natural beauty,” said Sen. Murray. “Whether it’s the wildlife, waterfalls, or wildflowers, I believe the health of these natural resources is an important component to long-term economic growth in our state.  And I’m proud to have joined with local leaders to protect and preserve the Columbia River Gorge for generations to come.”

“Washington state’s diverse natural treasures are a key component of the quality of life we all enjoy and help attract world-class talent and tourists that boost our economy,” said Sen. Cantwell. “I am a strong supporter of the Land and Water Conservation Fund that helps ensure special places like the Columbia River Gorge can be preserved for future generations.”

Lynn Burditt, Columbia River Gorge National Scenic area manager said, “The Major Creek drainage is a vitally important wildlife corridor between the Columbia River and the uplands above the Gorge Walls.  The entire Major Creek drainage has a land use designation given only to the most sensitive landscapes within the Scenic Area.  It is a wild, undeveloped area of steep canyons, old growth trees, creeks and springs, and an abundance of wildlife.  This was a very desirable land acquisition for the American public, and we appreciate the role that the Trust for Public Land played in making it a success.”

The Columbia River Gorge runs for 85 miles along the border between Oregon and Washington and includes more than 290,000 acres of diverse terrain. It is visited more than two million times each year.  These visitors spend tens of millions of dollars in the area supporting businesses and the local economy.

In the 1960s and ’70s, a surge of growth and development in the Portland-Vancouver, Washington area inspired a coalition of Northwest citizens and congressional leaders to provide federal protection for the region.  The Columbia Gorge Scenic Area Act passed Congress in 1986 and was signed law by President Ronald Reagan.

The Trust for Public Land is a leading national land conservation which protects land for people.  The Trust for Public Land is the leader in creating parks and playgrounds in cities across the country.  Since it was founded in 1972, The Trust for Public Land has completed more than 5,200 conservation projects, protecting more than 3 million acres in 47 states.