Helping Friends of the Columbia Gorge Navigate Disaster

June 2016 Mosier, OR Oil Train Derailment
September 2017 Eagle Creek Fire

Founded 1980, Friends of the Columbia Gorge has served as protector of the natural beauty of the Gorge and encourages the public’s enjoyment of this Pacific northwest jewel. Their team came to us needing a new site that would allow for them to showcase the beautiful images of the Gorge, and ultimately be more visual and less text-heavy than their previous site. Additionally, because their small team is stretched thin, they needed an intuitive and flexible CMS that allowed for easy updates. “The great thing is if you work with the right people, like Cascade, and they are willing and motivated to improve their work when you come across something that doesn’t work as well as you’d like, the solution is...we go to them and talk about ways to make it better.” Stan Hall, Digital Content Strategist • Friends of the Columbia Gorge
The website built on Evergreen provided the perfect solution, with a new site that includes a news feed, donation portal, tourism information, event guide and a robust “Find a Hike” section which offers multiple search preferences including distance, difficulty and activities such as family friendly, birdwatching, historical or trails with waterfalls. From a technical standpoint, the Friends team needed a scalable platform and a way to streamline third party integrations like MailChimp, SalesForce, and other CRM systems.

The site launched shortly before the devastating Mosier oil-train derailment in June of 2016, which created an environmental and public safety emergency. It was quickly put to the test as a resource for up-to-date news on the accident and environmental impacts as well as a portal for donations to aid with the recovery efforts. The site provided tools for the team to deploy critical information without the need of technical assistance by Cascade. 

The solution was futher tested during the Eagle Creek fire in September 2017. The Friends site quickly established itself as the go-to resource for objective information as the situation unfolded. It also allowed for efficient donations to support the entire region. In support of the ongoing fire recovery efforts, the Find a Hike section has a map overlay that shows which trails are open or closed.

The site wasn’t developed to just handle crisis, we were able to integrate five different 3rd party software programs to maximize the performance of the database, social media channels and other tools like forms and calculators. The new site allows better access to analytics that tie to key performance indicators and goals that can be tracked and easily reported to the client.  

While the site is robust enough to handle rapidly changing news during times of crisis, it’s also an ongoing source tourism and conservation efforts to preserve the beauty of the Gorge for years to come.

Check It Out

See what we've been able to do in partnership with the Friends of the Columbia Gorge to help them promote the beauty of the Gorge.

View the Friends of the Columbia Gorge Site

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