Protecting Freshwater Resources on Mt. Hood National Forest: Recommendations for Policy Change

The attached report was produced from a partnership between Bark and Pacific Rivers Council, with generous support from Bullitt Foundation and Wilburforce Foundation grants. Executive Summary: The purpose of this white paper is to provide recommendations for the next revision of the Mt. Hood National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan (Forest Plan) to ensure protection and retention of the Forest’s water resources, including municipal supplies and riparian and aquatic species habitat. Mt. Hood National Forest (MHNF) has positioned itself ahead of some of its counterpart units in the National Forest System (NFS) by proactively closing and decommissioning roads and developing watershed restoration and prioritization strategies. Forest staff and stakeholders should rightly be pleased with this progress while continuing to follow through on landscape-wide restoration.

This white paper provides recommendations that acknowledge and capitalize on these accomplishments, while encouraging all who work in the Forest and all who depend on water from the Forest to continue to pursue further restoration and protection of this resource. Adopting the protective policies MHNF already implements and building on them in the next revision of the Forest Plan will enable the Forest’s legacy of ecologically sound and socially conscious water management to continue for perpetuity.

The recommendations provided in this paper urge the Forest Service to go beyond minimal or merely adequate compliance with statutory mandates and policy directives. Instead, these recommendations offer substantial protection for streams and riparian areas such that natural restoration processes can fully occur. This paper contains sections providing important background information about MHNF, impacts and stressors on the Forest’s watersheds, the current management scheme and the scientific rationale for our recommendations.