carbon sequestration

Fire + Merkley Summer 2019

Status Update: The Barlow Ranger District on Mt. Hood National Forest released a Scoping Letter for the new Grasshopper Timber Sale. The project area spans several forest types from high elevation, moist, mixed-conifer to low elevation pine and oak forest, beginning east of Boulder Lake, bordered by the Badger Creek Wilderness to the north and by the Rocky Timber Sale to the south, ending near the Bonney Crossing campground. The public comment period on project scoping is open until 8/15/19. 

Project Details: The US Forest Service states their objectives are to: “enhance and restore forest diversity, structure, and species composition including pine/oak habitat and riparian reserves; maintain a road network that provides for public and firefighter safety; enhance restore and protect wildlife habitat; and provide forest products in alignment with the Forest and Northwest Forest Plans.”  With an area of 5,658 acres proposed to receive “treatment” (Forest Service double-speak for “logging”) they plan to produce 15-20 MMBF (unit: one million board feet) of timber. 

Action Alert: The public comment period is currently open through August 15, 2019! As part of the NEPA process, submitting your substantive comments regarding the negative impact of this proposed action can result in changes to the Forest Service’s proposal. Comments can be submitted via email to: comments-pacificnorthwest-mthood-barlow@fs.fed.us or via snail mail to Ashley Popham, Barlow Ranger District 780 NE Court Street, Dufur, Oregon 97021. 

Visit the Area: Bark has organized a campout for August 2019 that will survey the Grasshopper proposed units, as well as evaluating the area for its potential in the restoration of beaver populations in the watershed. Join us in groundtruthing this area!

Bark’s Concerns: The project area contains Critical Habitat for northern spotted owls, a National Recreation Area (around the popular Boulder Lake), and Late Successional Reserves (instruction to manage for old-growth dependent species). The Scoping document suggests that “past management activities have created highly dense, closed-canopy conditions... contributed to the mortality of trees...[and] slowed the development of new age classes and structural variety that would have occurred with natural disturbance in the past” however almost 70% of the planning area includes riparian reserves, unroaded, previously unlogged, and designated wildlife habitat, while less than a third of the area is described as previously or recently logged. Bark will begin groundtruthing the area in August 2019 to document conditions on the ground to compare to the Forest Service’s descriptions.  

The Forest Service stated in its Scoping notice that past management resulted in conditions where “densely stocked stands are creating continuous ladder fuels” and that the “majority of proposed areas for treatment in the Grasshopper planning area… have missed one or more natural fire events and now contain unnaturally high fuel situations”. While the Forest Service acknowledges that prescribed fire creates conditions that allow fire to perform its natural ecological function, the agency proposes prescribed burning only as a follow up activity after logging and “fuels reduction” activities such as increasing the spacing of the tree canopy, which are counter-productive. Opening the forest canopy increases wind and temperatures, creating a local drying effect.   

Roads: Bark believes the agency should evaluate the current roads system and impacts to assess future needs for access in this project area, while actively looking at how to reduce the oversized road network forest-wide.   

We are deeply concerned that the Grasshopper project currently includes 213 acres within what the Mt. Hood Forest Plan designated as “Unroaded Areas”, in addition to 272 acres of logging within a National Inventoried Roadless Area. Both land use allocations were designed to retain their roadless condition, and should not be entered for logging using “temporary” road-building as part of this project. 

Wildlife: The pileated woodpecker and pine marten are two management indicator species that are supposed to be protected by the Mt. Hood Forest Plan.  The Grasshopper timber sale includes 541 acres of their important habitat. Furthermore, the Grasshopper area includes significant acres of Critical Habitat for the northern spotted owl, and at least three owl nests have been previously located there. 

 

Here is the map of the National Recreation Area within Grasshopper and a map of Northwest Forest Plan Land Use Allocations.

map of Grasshopper Timber Sale area overlap Mt. Hood National Recreation AreaCheck back to see Flickr page updated with photos taken within the project area.

 

 

 

Project Status: 
Proposed
General Information
District: 
Barlow Ranger District
Total Acres: 
5,658.0
Watershed: 

Threemile and Boulder Creeks are the primary subwatersheds included within the planning area, and as a whole the entire planning area lies with the White River Watershed.

Habitat & Species
Habitat & Species: 

The Grasshopper area includes significant acres of Critical Habitat for the northern spotted owl, and at least three owl nests have been previously located.

Prescriptions
"Purpose & Need": 

"The goal of the Grasshopper Project is to implement vegetation treatments through a variety of methods across approximately 7,660 acres of the Mt. Hood National Forest, restoring the landscape to conditions more consistent with natural disturbance regimes and species compositions.  Treatment types could be, but would not be limited to, sapling thinning; commercial plantation thinning; variable density thinning from above and below; and shelterwood cutting.  Treatment would occur across a variety of stand types and stand ages to meet stated objectives."

Driving Directions: 

Driving directions to Grasshopper Timber Sale can be found here.

Base Camp is next month!

August 24th through September 7th in Mt. Hood National Forest.

Bark wins on biomass!

Portland and Multnomah County say NO to biomass from public lands…
 

Volunteer at the People's Forest Forum!

Calling all volunteers!

 

The People’s Forest Forum for the Future of Mt. Hood is happening this Saturday, April 15th and we need some helping hands to make sure all goes smoothly!

 

If you can help with any of the following tasks, please let Courtney know!

 

• Picking up snack donations around town (8:30-10:30am April 15th, car necessary)

Biggest Timber Sale Ever!

Earlier this month, the Forest Service released their 30-day public comment period for the largest single timber sale we've ever seen in Mt. Hood National Forest. The "Crystal Clear Restoration Project (CCR)" includes 13,271 acres (nearly the size of Manhattan) of commercial logging, much of which is in mature, never-logged forest southeast of the mountain.

Free Mt. Hood Campaign Committee

This volunteer committee meets monthly to advance the campaign

Litigation Update: In September 2018, Bark, Cascadia Wildlands, Oregon Wild and WildEarth Guardians brought a lawsuit in federal district court to halt the Crystal Clear timber sale for violations of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), National Forest Management Act (NFMA) and the Travel Management Rule. 

 
On May 7, 2019, District Judge Michael Mosman ruled against Bark and the other plaintiffs on all claims, but did not file an opinion. Read more about Bark's response to the court's actions. Bark, Cascadia Wildlands and Oregon Wild are appealing the lower court's decision to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Bark’s staff attorney, Brenna Bell, will be arguing the case in front of a 3-judge panel for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on December 10th in Seattle. We are hoping to have a decision from the court by June -  the beginning of the 2020 logging season.
 

Project Details: Along the eastern shoulder of Mt. Hood National Forest (MHNF) lies a complex forest: diverse in species composition, elevation, forest type, past management, and fire history. Overlaying this diverse forest is a mantle of protection − designated critical habitat for the iconic northern spotted owl, a federally threatened species. This forest diversity expresses itself in many ways.  In the higher elevation, moist mixed conifer forests where fire is an infrequent visitor and commercial logging has not altered the landscape, multiple tree species grow together providing high-functioning habitat for northern spotted owl and other threatened and sensitive animals and plants.  Interspersed in these older forests are areas logged decades ago, where a sparse overstory of elder trees shelters a new understory of young conifers.  Head east, down the mountain, and the forest changes.  Here, fire was a more common visitor, regularly clearing the forest underbrush to nourish pines and other fire-adapted conifers.

Across this ecologically important and diverse forest, MHNF planned its largest timber sale in over a decade, including plans to log almost 3,000 acres of mature and old growth forest.  Under direction from the Forest Service Regional Office, MHNF used Timber Sale Pipeline Restoration Funds to plan a sale the Regional Office expected to produce 100,000 CCF of timber (approximately double the timber volume produced annually on the entire Forest).  Encompassing 11,742 acres, the “Crystal Clear Restoration Project” is the result.

Crystal Clear is proposed in the White River watershed in Mt. Hood National Forest just north of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs boundary. This area is home to spectacular winter and summer recreation opportunities accessible along Highway 26, and also plays the significant role of sequestering and storing carbon, which is critical to mitigating the projected effects of climate change.

The White River Watershed contains approximately 555 miles of roads, making it high priority for reducing road density within habitat for sensitive species impacted by vehicular traffic and road-related erosion.  The Crystal Clear Timber Sale will build or re-open up to 35.8 miles of "temporary" road, and only decommission 0.7 miles.The Crystal Clear project area also includes the McCubbins Gulch OHV riding area, one of three designated Off Highway Vehicle riding areas in Mt. Hood National Forest.

In 2014, wolf tracks were confirmed by wildlife agencies in the White River area of Mt. Hood National Forest, and within the Crystal Clear project area. The two-year old male wolf that made its way to our forests this year is collared OR-25 from the Imnaha Pack in eastern Oregon. In the winter of 2017 ODFW trail cameras documented a pair of wolves in the area and in August of 2018, the pair was confirmed to have at least two pups.

Instead of pursuing activities which degrade native forest, Bark believes that the Forest Service should prioritize decommissioning roads which are currently damaging to the ecosystem, restoring wildlife such as beavers which can bring further recovery of the watershed, and promoting the natural and invigorating role of fire on the eastside of Mt. Hood.

In 2017, Bark was able to convince the Forest Service to reduce the sale area from 13, 271 to 12,069 acres in order to protect valuable spotted owl habitat. Then, after Bark submitted our pre-decisional objection on this project in 2018, the Forest Service proposed some changes to the project addressing a few parts of our objection. Among other changes, Bark has sucessfully advocated for a total of 1,531 acres dropped from this sale. The FS said they believe these changes should “partially resolve” some of our concerns, and issued a Final Decision in 2018. Despite these modest changes to the project, Bark's key legal concerns - focused around logging mature and old growth forest in spotted owl critical habitat - remained.

 

Project Status: 
Proposed
General Information
District: 
Barlow Ranger District
Total Acres: 
11,742.0
Watershed: 

The project includes parts of the White River, White Horse Rapids-Deschutes River and Beaver Creek watersheds within the Lower Deschutes River sub-basin.

Habitat & Species
Habitat & Species: 

Northern spotted owl (threatened), Oregon spotted frog (threatened), redband trout, & historically habitat existed for beaver, pine marten, fisher, wolverine.

Prescriptions
Total Acres: 
11,742.0
"Purpose & Need": 

From the project's scoping letter: "The purpose of the Crystal Clear Restoration Project is to provide forest products where there is an opportunity to restore resiliency to forested areas and reduce the risk of uncharacteristic
wildfire behavior."

Bark Comments: 

Despite the stated purpose of this project, Bark has heard this project described by the Forest Service as a "straight-up timber sale", funded by borrowed money from the regional Timber Sale Pipeline Restoration Fund, which they must pay back at a rate of 130%. This is by far the largest timber grab Bark has seen in recent years.

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