Places We Protect
Over 37 million years ago tectonic plates slammed into each other on the west coast of current day Oregon and Washington, marking the beginning of the complex geologic history of the Cascade Mountain Range. The pressure of the plates pushing and pulling resulted in the land above being heaved upwards, creating what we now know today as the Cascade mountain range and the volcanoes for which it is famous.
37 million years of geologic clamor and volcanic eruptions has created a diverse landscape that is as beautiful as it is rough and as fertile as it is rugged. It is home to hundreds of plants and animals found nowhere else on earth. The Gifford Pinchot Task Force is dedicated to protecting and restoring the ecosystems of the Cascade Range - our work to protect this region spans across two states, four national forests, 20 federal wilderness areas, and climates varying from alpine to temperate rainforest.
The beauty of this land is hard to imagine. In the Columbia River Gorge, moss and trees cling to steep walls of black volcanic basalt as nearby waterfalls plunge over 100 foot cliffs. Each individual stream in the gorge is such a unique microclimate that they can harbor mosses and lichens that grow nowhere else. Further south in the Salmon-Huckleberry wilderness south of Mt. Hood, the damp edges of meadows create rare habitat for Alaskan Cedar trees, and black bears find shelter from harsh winter weather in the area’s rugged canyons. In the far north of the Okanagan-Wenatchee National Forest, climbers on the Mary Green Glacier on Mount Bonanza walk past deep crevasses which dazzle the eye with an aquamarine glow and provide a window into the glaciers which make the areas rivers so clean and cool.
People who visit the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument get the treat of looking into the crater of the Cascade’s youngest and most active volcano, one of the most active volcanoes in the world. The devastation of the eruption in 1980 has provided the opportunity to study how ecosystems recover from natural disasters, knowledge that continues to become more valuable in our shifting climate.
Unfortunately, these beautiful places with such compelling natural history have suffered from human impact over the last two centuries. Logging, grazing, development, unnatural fire control, and a host of other human factors have destroyed immense amounts of the natural ecosystems of the Cascades, but there is good news – the volcanic and turbulent history of the Cascades has produced ecosystems that are nothing if not resilient. Your support can help us restore Northwest ecosystems so that they once again support thriving fish, wildlife, and plant populations while also supporting our communities and providing clean water and recreation.
Protecting and restoring the ecosystems of the Cascades is not an easy job, but it is surely rewarding. Seeing water and fish move freely where there was once a dam, seeing young wildflowers grow where there was once a road, seeing a young deer and its mother roam where a parking lot was to be built – they are all beautiful sights that warm the heart. We invite you to join us in this effort, donate or volunteer with us today and help us restore the Cascades for the next generation.