Polallie Cooper Planning Delayed Until 2016

Along with spending much-needed downtime with friends and family, we have another special reason to celebrate the holiday season this year. Under pressure from Bark, Oregon Wild, and Wild Earth Guardians the Forest Service has committed to wait until 2016 to begin their public comment period for the controversial Polallie Cooper Timber Sale.

In the past, the Hood River Ranger District of Mt. Hood National Forest has had a practice of releasing public notices of large logging proposals during the holidays. These are times when most people are less focused on responding to such projects. This strategy has resulted in low levels of public input on these timber sales, something that makes it easier for logging to move forward relatively unchallenged. The fact that Forest Service staff often take vacations during the holidays means that sometimes the “responsible official” for a logging proposal, who is supposed to be available to answer questions about the project, is unreachable.

But this year is different. Sensing that the agency would pursue their tried-and-true holiday formality, Bark implored them to consider how much this excludes community involvement. The response was positive.

 “I like to think we’ve learned from our Lava experience 2 years ago and allow everyone a worry free holiday season,” said Hood River District Ranger Janeen Tervo, who is overseeing the project’s planning phase. What she is referring to is the Lava Timber Sale, a nearby logging project which had a comment period overlapping with two holidays, inciting dissent among the public who found it difficult to engage with the comment deadline.

One anonymous commenter wrote “By arranging to have almost no public involvement in the give-away of public resources to private corporations by hiding the Lava Timber Sale announcement in the holiday hubbub, almost nobody is going to oppose these deplorable activities.”

Now, Bark is celebrating Tervo’s commitment to delay the comment period, along with our continued effectiveness of holding the Forest Service accountable to meaningfully engage with the public.

A Draft Environmental Assessment for the Polallie Cooper Timber Sale will likely be released sometime in January 2016. Along with a 30 day comment period, the Forest Service will also be scheduling an open house where individuals can learn about the project, and voice their concerns. Stay tuned to learn about how to get involved in helping Bark push the Forest Service to protect clean water, wildlife and recreation in this special part of the forest.