Friends of the Columbia Gorge raise enough to buy and protect seven prized parcels in gorge; campaign also elicits donation of eighth site.

COURTESY FRIENDS OF THE COLUMBIA GORGE - Visitors on the Oregon side of the Columbia RIver Gorge peer out at Cape Horn, one of eight sites on the Washington side of the gorge now owned by the Friends of the Columbia Gorge after its successful Preserve the Wonder campaign. The Friends of the Columbia Gorge have successfully completed their Preserve the Wonder campaign, raising $5.6 million in donations to buy 470 acres of land on the Washington side of the gorge.

The land-preservation campaign enabled the advocacy group to permanently protect eight different properties adjacent to the national scenic area, including seven purchased with donations and an eighth that was donated in response to the effort, the group reported in a press release.

The Preserve the Wonder campaign was formally launched last year but is the culmination of over a decade of planning, including identification of lands deemed worthy of protecting. More than 1,600 people donated, with contributions ranging from $50 to $1 million. The properties were selected to protect scenic beauty, native forests and savannas, enhance wildlife habitat and create new hiking trail connections.

One donor contributed 50 acres of Douglas fir woodlands near the Duncan Creek area.

"I'm awestruck by the response to this campaign," stated Kevin Gorman, Friends of the Columbia Gorge executive director. "One of the most impressive aspects of the Columbia Gorge," he said, "is its uncanny ability to bring together so many people — from across the political spectrum and from around the Pacific Northwest — in a united effort to conserve and protect one of our nation's natural wonders."

Properties protected as part of the Preserve the Wonder campaign include:

• Steigerwald Shores, 160 acres

• Upland Oaks, 55 acres

• Lyle Peak, 25 acres

• Cape Horn Vista, 58 acres

• Turtle Haven, 64 acres

• Coyote Meadow, 10 acres

• Good's Woods, 50 acres

• Duncan Creek, 50 acres

Now that the fundraising is over, the group will work to enhance wildlife habitat and build new trail connections.

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