Mel Hinton's reverence for the outdoors comes from a unique perspective. After graduating from Oregon State University, Mel became a Navy pilot then, after leaving the service, flew for the airlines for 27 years while living in San Diego. From the sky he saw how humans were shaping the environment. Seeing the Great Plains consumed by agriculture, and the polluted waters of the Mississippi River pouring into the Gulf of Mexico left a strong impression on him, and solidified his environmental ethic.
Mel became more active in local environmental efforts when he retired in 2000. For years he was very involved with the San Diego Audubon Society, serving as President, Vice President, and Treasurer over his tenure.
When his wife passed away in 2012, Mel wanted to return to the Pacific Northwest. He settled in Vancouver and joined a men's hiking group where he quickly found camaraderie and a shared love of the outdoors on their weekly hikes. In no time, Mel had hiked nearly every trail in the Gorge and when an old friend and hike leader introduced him to Friends of the Columbia Gorge, the mission to protect the Gorge and educate the public immediately spoke to him.
Mel decided to include Friends in his estate plans because he doesn't want to see the Columbia Gorge suffer the same fate as so many of the places he saw in his career. He hopes that the Gorge will be preserved for future generations, and that people will continue to learn about these special places-an effort he carries on by taking his grandchildren to his favorite trails and waterfalls.
Thank you, Mel for investing in the Gorge for future generations!