It's been a rough couple of weeks with Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma and over 35,000 acres of Oregon's Columbia River Gorge are still on fire. The saddest part is the fire could have been avoided. A group of teenagers went into the woods and threw fireworks into a ravine immediately sparking a fire. They walked off doing nothing about it, but luckily they were seen and caught. Ash coming from over an hour away, has covered all of Portland. Even though we are known for our rains here in Oregon, we have very dry summers where fires can start on their own. With all the natural disasters happening right now, lots of people are in disbelief that something deliberate like this has happened.
Since the influx of people moving here to Portland, I've seen our gorge attract lots of new visitors to it like a playground. Sadly, I've also seen our nature spots being treated like a dumping ground too. The trails where you would rarely saw someone, now have parking issues and crowds of people. Some trails are still low traffic but the popular trails have some trouble with trash. I've seen leftover piles of garbage left at trailheads, soaked "pee" napkins left near where cars were parked, diapers shoved in crevices of hillside rocks, beer cans in the river, dog poo bags left on the side of the trails and cigarette butts everywhere near where people have parked. It's sad.
Littering begets littering. It's everyone's responsibility to take care of our planet. The teenagers who thoughtlessly tossed fireworks into a dry forest, know better. Most of the people on the trails are adults and know better. Let's teach our children well - taking care of nature is important for us and future generations. Here are some helpful tips about "Leave No Trace" when you are in nature at wilderness.org . If you would like to help by donating or volunteering, you can at gorgefriends.org/firfaq