Mount Hood and the wild forests that surround it provide clean drinking water for over a million Oregonians. It is a place where hikers, campers, hunters, anglers, skiers, birdwatchers, mushroomers, climbers and others can revel in their pursuits. It provides clean air and water, wilderness and old-growth forests, and a refuge for endangered species.
Lewis and Clark navigated their expedition through several spectacular and dangerous cascades in the Columbia River Gorge. Celilo Falls, The Dalles and the Cascades are now covered by the stagnant slackwater reservoirs created by the lower Columbia River dams. But 200 years ago these narrow channels, some as narrow as 45 yards, presented real obstacles to the expedition. William Clark was concerned about "the horrid appearance of this agitated gut Swelling [water], boiling & whorling in every direction" as they neared the end of their journey to the Pacific Ocean.
In the 200 years since the Corps of Discovery first experienced the Gorge, tremendous amounts of wildlife habitat have been lost and California condors, wolves, grizzly bears and native coho salmon are no longer found in the Gorge.
Two hundred years after Lewis and Clark, the Columbia River Gorge is still a special place. Its natural, scenic, cultural and recreational resources all merit protection from further loss. Rare wildlife species such as the bald eagle, peregrine falcon, Larch Mountain salamander and western pond turtle still populate the Gorge in small numbers.
The diverse climate of the Gorge supports nearly 1,000 native species of wildflowers. Sixteen species can be found only in the gorge and nowhere else on Earth.
Salmon, icons of the Pacific Northwest, are dwindling in numbers. The Columbia River was once home to runs of more than 16 million wild salmon and steelhead. Now annual runs number under 1.5 million adults, only 250,000 of which are wild.
Photo, top: The Narrows on the East Fork of the Hood River are up for protection as a Wild & Scenic River. Photo courtesy Jason Rackley, www.oregonkayaking.net.
Photo, bottom: The North side of Mt. Hood framed by the fall colors of the most-productive pear farming valley in the United States. Photo courtesy Darryl Lloyd, www.longshadowphoto.com.
For more information about the Sierra Club's Lewis and Clark campaign or to find out how you can help, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.