Airstrip Timber Sale--Court Report



This morning Bark was in US District Court protecting Clackamas River forests...

I just got back from court, where Bark challenged the Bureau of Land Management's decision to log ancient dead trees, or snags, in direct conflict with its own wildlife standards. Huh?!

Do you have this feeling lately that our government is, hmm... backward?

Well, today made me so thankful that I work with a community of people who are responsible, dedicated, honest, real, and know the difference between right and wrong.

It is this Bark community that watches and protects the forests of Mt. Hood--including this small corner of the Clackamas River watershed threatened by the proposed Airstrip Timber Sale.

Bark's legal challenge to the Airstrip Timber Sale is to simply enforce the BLM's own management plan, which sets a minimum level of snags that it must protect for wildlife habitat. The proposed Airstrip Timber Sale takes a forest already under the standard and continues to log more snags.

Brenna Bell (Bark's staff attorney, pictured in court today) stated it perfectly today when she told the judge, "When you're already under [the standard], you can't go any lower."

In court Bark is represented by one person, but our success is dependent on hundreds of volunteers, like Matt Mavko (pictured leading a hike to Airstrip below), a member of Bark's volunteer Forest Watch Committee for eight years.

I asked Matt why this forest is so important, "The fact that these snags don't come across trees like this anymore. They're huge and rare."

"Snags are like the gateway to diversity in our forests. They provide homes for cavity-nesting animals like squirrels, woodpeckers, and bats, store water during the summer, and they release critical nutrients for the next generation of forests."

"The fact that Bark takes the data that I and other volunteers collect, and uses it to challenge irresponsible proposals like the Airstrip Timber Sale, is why I continue to be involved." 

Today the BLM's attorney attempted to defend the agency's decision to ignore its own management plan, "It has the authority to postpone particular goals." And that is exactly why this case is so important.

The judge's ruling on this case will determine whether the BLM  can just "postpone" meeting its own ecological standards on an ad hoc basis.

You know Bark as the watchdogs for Mt. Hood National Forest, but our work frequently influences management of national forests throughout the region.

A victory in court would result in a positive change for Mt. Hood forests and beyond.

As with every project in Mt. Hood National Forest and surrounding BLM land, you can find maps, environmental assessments, photographs, and even legal briefs, about the Airstrip Timber Sale on Bark's website.

But please, after you have pored over the project file and become an expert yourself, make a generous tax-deductible donation to Bark today.

Prefer not to give online? You can mail us at: Bark, PO Box 12065, Portland, OR, 97212.

You can also call us at (503) 331-0374.

And yes, if you are near Portland you can even visit us and we'll tell you more about the Airstrip Timber Sale. Our office is at 205 NE Grand Ave, Suite 207.

Thank you for being a part of the growing community of people who care about Mt. Hood's forests.

Alex P. Brown, Executive Director