Environment, Gales Creek, News

Gales Creek resident joins Columbia Riverkeeper board

Longtime Gales Creek resident Sue Vosburg needed a break after retiring about four years ago from the tax and accounting industry, leaving her tax preparation business that she owned and operated since 1977.

But when the Columbia Riverkeeper came calling, she answered, joining the Hood River-based nonprofit’s board of directors as treasurer. 

“The level of integrity and just effectiveness of their organization has always impressed me,” Vosburg said in a phone call with the Gales Creek Journal. 

Many Gales Creek residents will be familiar with the Columbia Riverkeeper; the nonprofit aided a coalition of Gales Creek residents in beating back the placement of a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) pipeline down the middle of the Gales Creek Valley.

A company called Oregon LNG was created to build a $6 billion LNG terminal in Warrenton near the mouth of the Columbia River and a pipeline stretching from there to Molalla. Initial efforts to build the pipeline and terminal began in 2004. 

It would have cut straight through the Gales Creek area. 

Vosburg was among those who jumped in to stop the pipeline, donating time and money in an effort that saw local residents unite against the pipeline plan over environmental concerns, land use rights, and safety issues. 

A no LNG pin from Gales Creek. Photo: Chas Hundley

The final death knell for the project came in April 2016, when the company announced it was shutting down. 

She lives with her family on a 32-acre plot on Gales Creek near Clapshaw Hill Road. Formerly the site of a nursery, Vosburg said they sold the nursery business in 2003 and replanted it with trees, becoming one of the many small woodland owners dotting western Washington County. 

Vosburg joined the board in December along with a slate of other new faces, according to a press release issued by the Columbia Riverkeeper. The nonprofit says it has over 16,000 members and supporters that help the group work “to protect the water quality of the Columbia River and all life connected to it, from the headwaters to the Pacific Ocean.”

Vosburg noted the nonprofit’s four-star rating from Charity Navigator, an organization that rates the cost-effectiveness and overall health of a charity’s programs.

In addition to Vosburg, the board saw Emily Washines take the reins as board president, and added Marta Yera Cronin, Alanna Nanegos, Brett VandenHeuvel as board members

“As an organization that unites communities to protect the Columbia, we are fortunate to have a diverse board of community leaders from across the region,” said Lauren Goldberg, executive director for Columbia Riverkeeper. “Emily Washines is an inspiring leader and educator. I’m excited to work with her and our incredible board of directors, staff, and members to tackle the pressing environmental justice and climate issues along the Columbia.”

“I appreciate the vote of board members to lead the organization,” said incoming board president Emily Washines in a press release. “As the board continues our mission to take necessary steps to protect the water, I see how these actions parallel the time-honored traditions about the resources I was raised with.”  

“Columbia Riverkeeper has a proud history of working in solidarity with Tribal Nations and bringing together river communities to fight for what they love. Under Emily’s leadership, I’m confident Columbia Riverkeeper will continue to secure victories for clean water, salmon, and the communities that depend on them,” said outgoing board president Rudy Salakory.

More information can be found at www.columbiariverkeeper.org.

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Chas Hundley is the editor of the Gales Creek Journal and sister news publications the Banks Post and the Salmonberry Magazine. He grew up in Gales Creek and has a cat.

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