Week 34 - Molly Whitney



For the 34th week of "7 QUESTION SUNDAY" we shine the spotlight on another influential individual from the PNW. She’s Pacific Northwest born and raised in Oregon, an avid adventurer and the executive director of the Cascade Forest Conservancy. This is Molly Whitney!


4EVRGRN: Hey Molly, tell us a little about yourself.

MW: I'm a born and raised Portlander. I grew up in a suburb south of town, went to a small Portland private school for K-12th grade and college at Linfield in McMinnville, OR. I truly love this state. When you get to grow up somewhere so amazing it makes it really hard to leave... I have more nature at my fingertips that I could ever fully explore in a lifetime! The landscape of the PNW has shaped me and given me my passion for life - and for my profession. In college I earned a Bachelors of Science in Environmental Science and took that degree to work at the PNW office of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for 9 years where I worked on the Columbia Basin Water Transactions Program. From there I became the Development Director at WaterWatch of Oregon and just recently, about 6 months ago, joined the Cascade Forest Conservancy as their Executive Director. In my spare time I can be found out on the trail with my dog, paddling a local waterway, working in my yard, refueling at one of Portland’s newest foodie destinations, or volunteering as the Board President for the Tualatin Riverkeepers. 


4EVRGRN: Tell us about your work!

MW: The Cascade Forest Conservancy (CFC) works to protect and sustain forests, streams, wildlife, and communities in the heart of the Cascades, mainly the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in SW Washington, through conservation, education, and advocacy. The GPNF is a special place, a true gem - we have a volcanic monument, 3 mountains (St. Helens, Rainier and Adams), complex old growth forests, unique habitat for fisher, marten and other wildlife and we still have a community where locals live and work… there aren’t many places left in the world like this and works to make sure that it thrives in a natural, successful, wild and beautiful way. One of the most pressing issues that my organization is working on, which we are all really passionate about, is protecting a beautiful river valley just a dozen miles from Mt St. Helens from a dangerous mining proposal. The Green River valley is a source of drinking water for downstream communities, as well as habitat for wild steelhead and lots of other wildlife. One can read more about the No Place For A Mine Campaign at https://cascadeforest.org/our-work/mining/



Here's How Molly answered our 7 questions... 

1. Best PNW childhood memory? Each Thanksgiving my family would take the train from Portland to Boise. It was a long ride by my parents would bring lots of holiday arts and crafts, books and toys to keep me occupied. I loved looking out the window and seeing the countryside roll by... I don't think I appreciated it all that much when I was younger - I was mainly excited about the toys and crafts - But as I got older and looked forward to seeing my family at the other end of the rail I often found myself looking out the window daydreaming and taking in the dramatic changes in scenery through the gorge, into Eastern Oregon and Western Idaho. There's nothing like a beautiful PNW landscape. I hear they may bring this route back - I sure hope they do. I'll happily ride it and relive the memories. 

2. Favorite PNW season? Autumn - I love any excuse to wear flannel! Plus, the colors on all the trees and falling leaves is glorious... there's nothing like taking a walk, soaking up a crisp autumn day, hearing leaves crunch underfoot, smelling what can only be characterized as autumn air. Plus, the mushrooms are great this time of year... chanterelles are my favorite!

3. Wildest PNW experience? I don't know if it was a wild experience or poor planning... either way, I'll never forget it. My dad and I were X Country skiing up on Mt Hood. We went fairly often and my dad was pretty experienced from his time living in Fairbanks, AK. That particular day we decided to connect between two groomed areas and went off trail. We had a map and knew where we were going, or at least thought we did... Just around the time we were supposed to reach the second groomed area near where our car was parked at the end of the day the sun was setting... but there was no groomed trail, or any trail, in sight. We kept skiing and luckily found a trail. It was dark by this time but we thought we were saved and began to follow the trail to what we thought would be the car. We kept skiing and skiing into the night. Based on the map, we both knew we should have made it back to the car fairly quickly but there were no markings for the trailhead or snowpark. As we kept skiing I began to think that some of the scenery looked familiar. But it was dark, and we were only skiing by moonlight, so I wasn't sure. I decided to draw a big smiley face in the snow... hoping that I wouldn't see it again. About 30 min later, there it was, a smiley face in the snow. We had been going in circles! We took a look at the map and agreed that we were in a general area. We decided that if we skied in a particular direction long enough we should hit the main highway. So off we went for our last hope... Luckily in about 15 minutes we heard the airbrakes of a truck. The highway wasn't far! We finally made it out to the highway and then followed it for a few miles back to our car... so thankful to have made it! Next step was to call mom from the nearest payphone before she sent out a search party looking for us. She was so happy to hear from us and made sure we never went skiing again without extra food, water and headlamps.

4. Best misconception you’ve heard about the PNW? That it rains ALL THE time... it really doesn't. Granted there are grey, overcast and misty days especially in the west - but it doesn't downpour often. And that's only part of the PNW - most of Oregon, Washington and Idaho is sunny and often dry!

5. One thing you want the world to know about the PNW? The distance from the cascades to the coast makes it possible to ride your board or skis down a slope in the morning, grab lunch in a main urban city like Portland, Bend or Seattle and end the night with your toes in the sand on the coast... How many other places can you do that!? 

6. Favorite random PNW fact? The smallest park in the world, Mills End Park, is in Portland... right on Naito Parkway and only about 2 feet across!

7. One thing every PNWer does that you refuse to do? Wait in line for brunch... don't get me wrong, brunch is amazing and one of my favorite meals but there are so many amazing restaurants that you don't need to wait in line to get an AMAZING meal!

Want to know more about Molly? Want to know more about the CFC? Here’s how you can follow along: @cascadeforest