National Scenic Area Fund of Gorge Community Foundation Changes Name to Honor Kate Mills

The National Scenic Area Fund of the Gorge Community Foundation is pleased to announce that it has changed its name to the Katharine Leadbetter Mills National Scenic Area Fund in order to honor the memory and legacy of Kate Mills and all she did in her life to advocate for protection of the Gorge.

For 60 years, Kate was a fearless and untiring champion of Oregon’s natural beauty, most especially the Columbia River Gorge and Hood River Valley. As her friend and fellow Gorge advocate Bowen Blair wrote, “Kate, along with a handful of other Gorge residents—many recruited by Nancy Russell, including Kate McCarthy and Barbara and Bob Bailey—were worried that development would soon transform the Gorge.

So they spoke out. They persevered. And Kate, with her legion of friends, gentle manner and hard backbone, was a particularly effective advocate. She recruited friends, raised and donated money, wrote letters, and testified, time after time—frequently in hostile environments where her statements were often drowned out by boos and worse.

Every successful movement, especially contentious ones like protecting the Gorge, relies upon people being willing make sacrifices, work hard, lose friends, and risk being ostracized in their communities. And Kate Mills was one of the best. Without people like her, the Columbia Gorge would be a very different place today.”

The Katharine Leadbetter Mills National Scenic Area Fund is an endowed Designated Fund of the Gorge Community Foundation. It is dedicated to using its annual distribution to support conservation, climate change action, education and outreach programming and services for historically excluded or vulnerable individuals in the Columbia River Gorge’s National Scenic Area to protect its scenic, natural, recreation and cultural values and to support the economic vitality of Gorge communities.

Contributions to the Fund may be made to: Gorge Community Foundation, PO Box 1711, Hood River, OR 97031 or online at