Fire

Fire + Merkley Summer 2019

August Ecology Club: What is the Future of Fire in the Cascades?

In August, we're excited to invite Andy McEvoy to present his research on forest fire in the Cascade Range. Andy is a Masters student at Portland State University in the Department of Environmental Science and Management. His research focuses on modeling future fire activity in west-side Cascade forests and he is eager for his work to help communities better plan for future conditions.

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.

Fire is Native to Oregon

Large scale commercial logging is a newcomer to this land, while the forests have burning as long as there have been forests. Much of this burning was intentional, as the indigenous Chinook, Kalapuya, Molalla, Wishram & Wasco 

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Lawmakers strike deal on wildfire spending

A long-term plan to pay for the rising cost of wildfires came back from the brink of collapse and was set to be included in an omnibus spending bill today, congressional and forest industry sources said.

Fear, Fire and Fact in Mt. Hood

Bark taught me the truth about fire

Last month, I attended Bark’s Staff Attorney Brenna’s presentation on Fire Policy. It was great!

After the Smoke Clears: Troutdale Fire Forum

Wednesday, November 29
McMenamins Edgefield, Blackberry Hall, 2126 SW Halsey St, Troutdale

After the Smoke Clears: Hood River Fire Forum

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After the Smoke Clears: PDX Fire Forum

An educational forum on the Eagle Creek fires, their impact on the Columbia Gorge, and how you can help with the recovery.

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