The Columbia River Gorge is a spectacular river canyon, 80 miles long and up to 4,000 feet deep, cutting the only sea level route through the Cascade Mountain Range. It is more than a natural wonder; the Gorge is a critical transportation corridor and is home to 75,000 people, resource dependent communities, farms and schools.
For many years there was concern about who should manage the Columbia River Gorge and in what way. A turning point was marked on Nov. 17, 1986. President Ronald Reagan signed into law an Act creating the 292,500 acre Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. This date does not mark the end of concern over management of the Gorge. Instead, it signals a beginning of new opportunities.
The National Scenic Area Act does not create a wilderness or park. Instead, it allows for existing rural and scenic characteristics to be retained, while it encourages compatible growth and development within urban areas.