The bridge went up, but Russell's efforts paid off in another way: In 1986, the Columbia River Gorge was declared a National Scenic Area, the nation's first. That legislation promotes economic development in 13 existing urban areas in the Gorge while establishing a set of land-use regulations intended to protect the natural and scenic resources in the rest of the area.
Last fall, The Conservation Fund recognized Russell's hard work with the American Land Conservation Award and $50,000 from the Catto Charitable Foundation. Nonetheless, the fight to protect the river goes on, and Russell notes that there's "still constant pressure to weaken land-use protection."
To nominate a "citizen conservationist" for the American Land Conservation Award, go to www.conservationfund.org, or call 703/525-6300.
Contact Friends of the Columbia Gorge at www.gorgefriends.org or 503/241-3762.