Bark Alert: Keeping Pace with Climate Change

Why is the Forest Service lagging behind?

bark logo with howling woof that reads defending & restoring mt hood next to a banner that reads bark: to make known by persistent outcry

Over the years, you’ve heard a lot about Bark’s work to restore watersheds across Mt. Hood National Forest. We’ve always advocated for decommissioning thousands of acres of crumbling, old logging roads, improving fish passage, and protecting water-rich riparian areas from unnatural disturbance. Recently, we've deepened our strategy to include restoring beaver habitat. We’re responding to the best available climate studies’ projections about impacts to water quality and quantity by ramping up our work to restore watersheds - in 2019, Bark surveyed 60 potential beaver restoration sites to support this keystone species thriving again across Mt. Hood National Forest!

We are also striking at the root of the problem: Mt. Hood National Forest’s Management Plan is 30-years old and designed to provide a perpetual supply of commercial timber, not to restore forest ecosystems in the face of climate change. The Free Mt. Hood campaign is challenging the Forest Service to bring its fundamental goals and practices into the 21st century; to revision the role of this federal agency as protecting ecosystems, not exploiting them to produce commodities.

And it seems like every day a new scientific study is released affirming the critical role of forests in regulating atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. For at least two decades, the Forest Service has studied this issue, finding that our National Forests sequester and store vast amounts of carbon, provide climate refugia habitat, regulate stream temperatures, drinking water availability and quality, and mitigate extreme drought and flood events. Yet, even for the National Forests of the PNW, which have some of the highest carbon-storing capacity in the world, management priorities have not changed to incorporate these findings, and activities on the ground are not designed to respond to climate change.

How quickly can we change these priorities? That depends on how much the Forest Service invests in doing so. Last year the agency began a Climate Vulnerability Assessment for Mt. Hood, and the initial data indicates that the most vulnerable ecosystems are also the sources of our drinking water. The Forest Service does not have to wait until this Assessment is complete to begin managing for greater climate resiliency.

Send a letter today urging them to act now!

I think you would agree that the Forest Service should take immediate, informed, and aggressive steps to protect water, biodiversity and the ecological structures that allow the forest to endure and adapt to the changing climate. Will you write a letter today letting these public officials know that you want to see climate resilience prioritized above all else in their management decisions?

Thank you for speaking up for the forest,

Courtney Rae, Bark Associate Director

P.S. Check out our schedule of events: Radicle workshops, hikes, book club and much more! Bark is able to offer all of our public programs for free thanks to your donations! Thank you for supporting this work!