Action Alert: Zigzag Timber Sale Comments are Due Next Monday

Action Alert! Speak up now for forests in Zigzag!

The Mt. Hood Forest Service is again under pressure to meet rising timber volume quotas by logging forests in the headwaters of the Sandy and Salmon river watersheds. Approximately 2,013 acres would be logged to meet the goals of the "Zigzag Integrated Resource Project". The Forest Service is accepting public comment on the project’s draft Environmental Assessment (EA or PA) until August 10th (next Monday!). 

This particular area of forest has inspired me ever since I first visited it early on when I started working with Bark. While groundtruthing with volunteers in 2012, I explored a unit of the Horseshoe Timber Sale. It was unlike forests that I had seen proposed for logging elsewhere. It was dynamic and diverse. There were big trees and small—alive and dead, standing and fallen. Water percolated the ground. Prehistoric-looking skunk cabbage and tall devil’s club plants surrounded me. To get there, I drove along the upper Sandy River and followed signs for Ramona Falls and the Top Spur trail. I was taken aback that this mosaic of forest was targeted in a logging proposal under the Obama administration's increase in Forest Service timber targets. Thankfully, that project was canceled in 2013. Unfortunately, history repeats itself. 

The value of a forest is much more than any quota.
Please write a comment today!

Large trees in a forest surrounded by many generations of trees, bushes, and mosses.

Proposed logging unit 33 on the SW slope of Last Chance Mt. above the Sandy River.

In recent years, the Forest Service invested millions of public dollars restoring the Sandy and Salmon River watersheds to protect vulnerable fish including steelhead trout, Chinook, and Coho salmon. Now, they're proposing hundreds of acres of a "mechanical harvest" on steep slopes above the same streams in areas at high risk for flooding and erosion.  

The impacts of removing the forest canopy above sensitive watersheds are intensified by the changing climate—snowpack and glaciers that keep summer water temperatures cool enough for salmon will soon become unreliable. The intact, never-been-logged forests surrounding these rivers and their tributaries are ever more important to shade the waters and keep them cool. Unfortunately, the climate change analysis included in the Zigzag EA is copy & pasted from past agency planning documents, lacking any specific analysis of the climate impacts of this proposal. 

It is crucial that the public examine the actions and motives of the Forest Service and we've provided the tools you need right here.

Writing comments to the Forest Service has an impact—especially if your experience of Zigzag is firsthand.

A legacy tree recently protected for red tree voles (and Misha)!
Earlier this year, Bark encouraged the agency to protect large trees which are habitat for rare species like red tree voles. We were grateful to find out that the Forest Service had recently located nests of red tree voles in the Zigzag project and dropped the timber units they were in from the proposal, protecting the species.
View of proposed unit 182 from Trillium Lake. Photo by Sarah Wald.

Thanks to volunteers and commenters, we have been able to change the project for the better. But, there is still work to do! There are important features and habitat that need to be buffered from the impacts of logging. And the Forest Service needs to hear from you—what management priorities do you want to see as opposed to timber quotas in the Zigzag area manged? 

Click here to comment on the Zigzag Timber Sale right now!

If you have a few more minutes to spare, please consider personalizing your comment.

Thank you,

Michael Krochta, Bark Forest Watch Coordinator

P.S. Tonight, our staff attorney Brenna Bell will be leading a comment writing workshop focusing on the Forest Service's weak analysis of climate impacts in this proposal. Click here to register!