Bark Alert: What is a Forest?

The ways that we connect to the natural world are ever-evolving, and in this pandemic I imagine we're all finding unique ways to interact with and advocate for the places we each hold dear to our heart. Like many, I first joined Bark as a volunteer. It wasn't until I had the opportunity to explore Mt. Hood National Forest with experienced advocates that I began to understand the contradictions between the agency and the public's response when asked: "what is a forest?"

I visualize trees stretching to the horizon—biodiverse ecosystems, rich in natural and cultural history, iconic wildlife, unique plant communities, and free-flowing rivers and streams. As a Bark supporter, you may share this vision.

However, our perspective is not being represented in the way Mt. Hood National Forest is managed. The US Forest Service and current Administration view the forest as individual “units” and “land allocations” finely outlined on a map. The culture of forest management sees these forests as segments of a tree farm, not as an interconnected and vast ecosystem.

These forests are resilient, but until the narrative changes, they are under threat.

Your support keeps us resilient advocates for this vision. 

Bark sees the forest as a living ecosystem where every part is tied to one another, including our surrounding communities whose health and livelihood rely on clean water, air quality, and recreation opportunities. We are not separate from the ecosystems that surround us, even those of us in the heart of the Portland metropolitan area.

The vast, largely intact ecosystems on Mt. Hood National Forest act as strongholds for clean water, wildlife habitat, and our cultural and economic future. Management priorities need to be refocused and centered around climate resilience, protecting drinking water sources, enhancing wildlife habitat connectivity and climate refugia, and safeguarding cultural values and carbon sequestration potential.

We need to redefine what a forest is.

Each day, Bark works to shed light on the many misconceptions of what makes a forest healthy. Sharing Bark's vision of a forest where natural processes prevail is at the center of our work. With your support, we will continue to educate our community door-to-door and over the phone with our Outreach Team and activate our supporters through our free monthly hikesEcology Club, and Rad◦i◦cle activist training program.

We can do this together!

This #GivingTuesday choose to invest in our activist community—together we have the power to shape a new tomorrow for Mt. Hood National Forest. If you have the means, we ask you to please donate to support this work.

We also recognize that support can take many forms, from hosting a fundraiser on your social media, attending our virtual meetings and workshops, or sending a quick “you rock” email to our hard-working staff—we value it all.

Thank you for taking action with us.

With gratitude,

Briana Villalobos, Bark Development Director

P.S. Join our first online Rad◦i◦cle Training: Intro to Forest Policy on Thursday, May 7th to learn more about the history of forest management and agency function.