Bark Alert: Cooper Spur Land Exchange

Dear Friends of the Forest,

"The main thing I'm feeling is the irony of it. We spend hundreds of hours fighting because they're trying to log in riparian reserves and build roads in listed salmon habitat. To have the same agency adding layers and layers of protection seems disingenuous."

That's the quote from Bark’s staff attorney, Brenna Bell, in Monday’s Oregonian article about the Cooper Spur Land Exchange.  In 2009, the U.S. Congress mandated a land exchange to prevent a ski area on the north slope of Mt. Hood, protect wetlands, and create additional protection for forests currently threatened by the Polallie Cooper Timber Sale. The Forest Service was required to complete the exchange in 16 months. Six years later, the process is indefinitely stalled.

While this issue has many complicating factors, Brenna’s quote showcases the simple fact that the Forest Service has little regard for protecting environmental resources until they can use it to stop projects they don’t like.

The Cooper Spur Land Exchange was a result of a decade of collaborative work by stakeholders from the Hood River area, Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Resort, and environmental groups (including Bark) working together for a landmark settlement. Oregon’s Congressional delegation recognized the importance of such a rare moment of consensus but the Forest Service refuses to implement it.   

Earlier in the month, Sen. Ron Wyden, Sen. Jeff Merkley, and Rep. Earl Bluemenauer sent the Forest Service a strong letter warning Mt. Hood National Forest that it would face a lawsuit for failing to complete the land exchange. This week, the Hood River Valley Residents Committee filed that suit.   

Bark will keep you posted on this developing issue. Meanwhile, we’ll continue working to stop the North Slope Logging Assault, which includes the current Polallie Cooper Timber Sale. The Forest Service has proposed twelve miles of roads and heavy logging in this untrammeled forest. The public comment period could start in the next few weeks. We expect the Forest Service to use the same level of reverence for environmental impacts that they’ve claimed for the land exchange when it comes to logging our forests.

 

Sincerely,

Amy Harwood
Interim Executive Director

P.S. As you can imagine, balancing the monitoring and response to the many diverse threats to Mt. Hood’s forests and rivers takes a lot of engagement from our staff and volunteers. You can ensure that we’ll still be there to hold the Forest Service accountable with a contribution today. Thank you!