The Gorge holds federally protected status as a National Scenic Area called the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area and is managed by the Columbia River Gorge Commission and the US Forest Service.
ABOUT THE 2017 EAGLE CREEK FIRE – it burned in the Gorge for three months, consuming almost 50,000 acres. It reached 100% containment on November 30, 2017, but was not yet completely out. The Columbia River itself was also closed to all marine traffic for 20 miles, from mile marker 126 to 146. The I-84 corridor from Troutdale to Hood River, continued to be an active evacuation zone into September.
The community of Cascade Locks was the first to experience mandatory evacuations, with 283 structures, including 15 businesses, being threatened by the fire. Salmon hatcheries at Cascade Locks were forced to release 600,000 fish six months earlier than expected. The fire also threatened historic structures as well as the Multnomah Falls Lodge, which was saved by water tenders.
Oregon State Police had obtained cellphone video footage from one of the teenagers who had watched while a 15-year-old Vancouver boy threw a smoking firecracker, igniting the Eagle Creek Fire. A witness reported seeing a group of teenagers recording the fireworks being lit and thrown into the Canyon.
The teen was sentenced in February 2018 to five years of probation and 1,920 hours of community service with the U.S. Forest Service. He also was ordered to write apology letters to 152 people trapped on the Eagle Creek trail because of the spreading flames, the city of Cascade Locks, the Forest Service, Oregon State Parks, the Oregon Department of Transportation, the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, the Columbia River Intertribal Fish Commission and many others.
On May 21, 2018, a judge ordered the 15-year old to pay more than $36 million in restitution, which includes more than $21 million on behalf of the U.S. Forest Service, $12.5 million to the Oregon DOT, more than $1.6 million to the Oregon State Fire Marshal, more than $1 million to Union Pacific Railroad and varying amounts to Oregon State Parks, Allstate Insurance and a woman who lost her home in the fire. In his sentencing, Judge John A Olsen stated that the terms of the repayment were for a payment plan lasting for ten years, provided that the offender completed five years of probation and did not commit any crimes in the ten-year period. (I was curious – upon further research, it appears this amount has not been reduced).