Lessons learned from the 2017 Eagle Creek fire have led to programs and policies intended to strengthen long-term resilience in the Columbia Gorge.The Eagle Creek fire was part of a 2017 wildfire season that was one of the worst in recent Pacific Northwest history. In Oregon alone, over 1,000 fires were recorded. The Eagle Creek fire had a dramatic impact on the Gorge, burning over 48,000 acres of forest and shuttering miles of beloved trails and state landmarks. It also inspired a remarkable public outpouring of support for protecting and stewarding the Gorge.
Shortly after the fire’s start, Friends of the Columbia Gorge launched a special initiative to assist community partners, educate the public and advocate for the policies and programs needed to rebuild trails and aid the forest’s natural regeneration. Many of our Eagle Creek response programs, in turn, drew and built upon Friends' efforts to protect and enhance the outstanding resources and communities of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area over the past three decades. These efforts will continue to be necessary as according to numerous studies, the Northwest will see increasingly drier summers in future decades due to climate change.
The Gorge is an interconnected place, where trails and recreation intersect with communities and the wilderness. It is also a resilient place. And building on the efforts launched in the aftermath of the Eagle Creek fire, Friends will continue to advance the programs and policies needed to strengthen long-term resilience and steward the Gorge in an age of increased wildfire danger.
Living With Fire Resources
Friends' Membership Coordinator Sophia Aepfelbacher reflects on her experience as one of the 153 hikers trapped on the Eagle Creek trail at the time the fire began.
Friends and partners created a land stewardship program to stop the spread of invasive plants in burned and non-burned areas.
Friends launched an advocacy campaign to stop the Walden clearcut bill and other proposals that could weaken Gorge protections post-fire.
Friends and partners started a program to place friendly volunteers at popular trailheads in the Gorge and Mt. Hood areas.
Since the fire, Friends and partners have explored new approaches to reduce congestion and help local communities.
Watch videos of presentations by fire ecologists at community educational forums about the effect of wildfires on forest ecosystems.
View an archive of all fire-related news and analysis generated by Friends since the outbreak of the Eagle Creek fire.
Our partner Ready, Set, GOrge! offers an up-to-date list of open trails and recreation areas.
Friends received an increase in donations after the fire. Here's how we are using the public's fire-related gifts.
Friends and collaborator Swanson Studio produced a portrait and interview series of people representing a cross-section of Gorge resilience.