"The warm summer days and nights. The beauty of the soft colors of the dry lands, and sage-scented breezes. . ." Even fifty years later, Bill Pressly remembers what first drew him to the Gorge. Bill and his wife, Carole Douglass, each have a long history of loving the Columbia Gorge. Carole grew up on ranger districts in the Pacific Northwest where her father worked for the U.S. Forest Service. One of those places was Trout Lake in the 1950s. She holds vivid memories of visits to Celilo Village as a girl to purchase fish, and of traveling the old Historic Columbia River Highway from Hood River to The Dalles to buy groceries.
Bill's introduction to the Gorge came in college in the 1960s, when he would spend countless days hiking and fishing in the Gorge. He recalls that he could board a freight train at Wishram, out past Lyle, that would cross the Columbia near where Celilo Falls had been until it was flooded in 1957. "You could request a drop off point up the Deschutes River," Bill recounted recently, "then after several glorious days of fishing for steelhead, flag down a returning train at night with a flashlight, and return to Wishram."
Watching development spread and seeing the loss of places like Celilo Falls gave Carole and Bill both a passion for preserving or restoring lands to their natural state. They live out these values on their 62-acre property in North Plains, Oregon. For years, they managed their land as a Christmas tree farm, then six years ago, they began transforming it back to native forest and meadow.
Bill and Carole joined Friends 17 years ago to support an organization that carries out the values they hold as individuals. As members, they learned more about the rich human and geologic history that shaped the lands of the eastern Gorge that they both loved in their youth.
Carole Douglass and Bill Pressly chose to include Friends in their estate plans because they are devoted to keeping the Gorge in its natural state for future generations, and they hope to see further restorations take place. They recognize the power of having access to nature and understand that a seemingly simple thing like a sage-scented breeze can inspire a lifetime of conservation.
Thank you, Carole and Bill!