Exploring opportunities for change

Exploring opportunities for change

As you know, Bark works to protect the forests, waters, and wildlife of Mt. Hood by scrutinizing the Forest Service’s management activities. What began as a project to protect Barkers’ favored recreation sites has evolved into an effort to hold the Forest Service accountable, not only to recreation interests, environmental law, and science, but to the long-term viability of the ecosystems that support us all. Now, as the climate changes, our commitment to changed individual and collective action will determine how well we cope.

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Seventy-two inch diameter tree in Grasshopper Timber Sale.

The Forest Service has decades of research on PNW climate and forests, carbon, fire, water, wildlife and economies, but policy changes are needed to put this knowledge into action on the ground. While Bark and the public have called for assessment of the impact of commercial logging on carbon cycles, the agency can conveniently side-step these concerns by deferring to the 30-year-old Mt. Hood Forest Management Plan, which mentions neither carbon nor climate change. The current Forest Management Plan allows the agency to continue to act as if the climate isn’t changing even as the window closes for us to pivot and avoid the worst of the projected climate scenarios. 
 
As climate change lengthens the wildfire season and periods of drought, reduces the winter snowpack and glacial ice, and transforms ecosystems and habitats, the Forest Service needs to change its goals for Mt. Hood. Instead of seeing the forest as a timber crop, it needs to be recognized as a climate refuge for native species and the invaluable source of community drinking water. Management strategies need to change from favoring commercial timber stands to intentional management of a wide range of ecological settings. Wetlands and meadows don’t produce timber, but they do support native pollinators, provide for wildlife, and build up water resources. Fire can destroy some commercial timber, but in doing so it benefits timeless values like rare habitat, culturally important plants, and enriched soil carbon. Bark needs your support to push for management that makes the most of beneficial change, wherever possible.

Donate before the end of the year to support our work to engage the agency and communities in support of new management goals for Mt. Hood!

Next week, Bark is hosting our 3rd annual People’s Forest Forum: Exploring Change to share what we’ve learned and to foster community conversations about this turning point. Please visit our Facebook events page to learn more and share. Register here! As with all Bark events, this public program is offered for free thanks to our donors and volunteers.

Thank you for all you do,

     Courtney Rae, Bark Associate Director

P.S. For our final Ecology Club of the year we’ll be discussing the impacts of the Riverside Fire and what Bark’s work in the area will look like in the future. Register here or find the event on our Facebook page.