Fundraiser seeks to open Multnomah Falls trails in 2018
Ten miles of trails surrounding Multnomah Falls could open later this year — if Oregonians are willing to help chip in.
Nonprofit organization Oregon's Kitchen Table hopes to raise $525,000 by March 15 to re-open three Columbia River Gorge trails clogged with rocks and fallen trees scattered by the Eagle Creek Fire.
Big-hearted nature lovers can get started by attending a kickoff campaign party today from 4 to 8 p.m. at Double Mountain Brewery's Portland location, 4336 S.E. Woodstock Blvd., with $2 from every beer purchased going to the crowdfund.
The Forest Service says its priorities are the Wahkeena Falls Loop east of Bridal Veil, plus Angel's Rest Hike and the first section of the Larch Mountain Trail, which is the formal name for the winding set of switchbacks that lead to the top of Multnomah Falls.
"In many ways, they're probably the most popular trails in the scenic area, but they're also pretty heavily damaged by rockfall," noted Rachel Pawlitz of the Forest Service. "For Larch Mountain trail, 90 percent of that segment is covered in rock."
A number of donor rewards are being offered, including patches, hats, blankets and growlers emblazoned with the cause's motto, "Be There for the Gorge." Givers with $5,000 to spare can attend a special nature photography workshop, or dine out at Multnomah Falls Lodge for $2,000.
As of Wednesday, Jan. 31, the crowdfunding campaign has raised $28,000, $10,000 of that kicked in by Friends of the Columbia Gorge, another nonprofit group. All donations are tax-deductible and can be made at www.oregonskitchentable.org/gorge.
"I grew up here, I spent a lot of time on the trails in the Gorge and — just watching the fire happen, many people felt very powerless," commented Wendy Willis, executive director of Oregon's Kitchen Table. "This is our chance to give back."
An offshoot of the National Policy Consensus Center at Portland State University, Oregon's Kitchen Table has lead successful civic fundraisers for a bike path in East Portland, an oral history of Vanport and a pedestrian footbridge on Burnside Road near Forest Park.
Hundreds of would-be volunteers have flocked to organizations like Trailkeepers of Oregon in the aftermath of the human-sparked wildfire that scathed more than 48,000 acres and closed 121 miles of nature trails in the Gorge.
But while some volunteers will be needed eventually, the Forest Service believes much of the restoration work is technical and likely needs to be handled by paid contractors or federal foresters.
"People who give will see something come of it," promised Pawlitz.