Last week, amidst a short-lived government shutdown, the U.S. Forest Service released an assessment of the trails damaged by the Eagle Creek Fire. The results were bleak.
Because of the many hazards now plaguing the trails in the 35,000-acre fire's path—including still-smoldering stump holes, standing dead trees and rock slides—it's unclear when shuttered routes will be re-opened.
To accelerate the restoration process, the USFS has had to enlist the help of outside volunteers and work overtime during winter months.
In an effort to fund that work, a local organization, Oregon's Kitchen Table, has set up a crowdfunding campaign called "Be There for the Gorge."
Specifically, money raised from the six-week long campaign will go towards restoration of popular trails between Multnomah Falls and Angel's Rest—an area Kevin Gorman, executive director of Friends of the Columbia Gorge, calls "the heart of the Gorge."
Friends of the Columbia Gorge was the first large donor to the fundraising effort, having just donated $10,000. Gorman calls the donation an "effort to help to take back some of what was lost in the fire and seize the opportunity to make some of these cherished places even better than before."
To be sure, there is a massive amount of work to be done before severely burned trails can be re-opened.
"Witnessing the fire's damage has been powerful," says Steve Kruger, executive director of Trailkeepers of Oregon. "I have walked several of the Gorge trails that have succumbed to the flames and it will take a collective of dedicated land managers and partners backed by a supportive community to see those trails restored."
The crowdfunding campaign will be open until March 15.
"If we can raise $525,000," the campaign page reads, "we could all enjoy the Falls and the surrounding area later this year."