Increment 2 Collawash Road Decommissioning

The Forest Service has issued its decision to decommission 170 miles of unnecessary roads in the Collawash Watershed, in the Clackamas River Ranger District. This project is designed to decommission 39% of roads in the watershed. The original proposed action by the Forest Service would have decommissioned 255 miles, or 58%, of the roads in this watershed in recognition of the severe impacts these roads are having on aquatic habitat and in line with the agency's 1999 Access and Travel Management Plan that identified 49% of Mt. Hood National Forest's road network as unneeded.

While this project will improve fish and wildlife habitat as well as drinking water quality, we are disappointed that the Forest Service has significantly scaled back the restoration work as initially proposed, especially in the Collawash Watershed that has experienced decades of intensive logging and road building.

More on Incremental Road Decommissioning: Bark has a long advocated for Mt. Hood National Forest to reduce the size of its enormous system of roads, mostly remnants from the heyday of logging, which cause significant impacts to fish, wildlife, and water quality. Public pressure from Bark along with recreation and conservation allies secured congressional restoration funds, which contributed to the creation of the incremental road decommissioning process (deconstructing roads to remove them from the landscape) under former Forest Supervisor Gary Larson in 2008. The agency embarked on this restoration by analyzing sub-watersheds throughout the forest to identify and decommission unneeded, problematic roads within these areas, including this proposed action in the Collawash Watershed.

Project Status: 
Restoration
General Information
District: 
Clackamas River Ranger District
Watershed: 

Collawash River Watershed

Road Comments: 

The Final Decision calls for closing 170 miles of unneeded roads in the watershed, falling short of the original proposed action to decommission 255 miles of road.

Damage to road in Mt. Hood National ForestClimate change is projected to bring about significant shifts in the pattern of precipitation across the Pacific NW. Decreased snowfall and increasingly warm average temperatures will result in more winter flooding and summer drought. This new precipitation pattern combined with the 4,000 mile network of roads crumbling, old logging roads represent the greatest threat to the health of rivers and streams and the availability and quality of drinking water generated in the forest. Bark works to ensure the Forest Service is prioritizing the work of decommissioning these old roads, by first digging up and decompacting the soils, then replanting. Removing these roads will help to reduce sedimentation into streams as well as discouraging illegal and destructive human activities in these sensitive and damaged areas.

Looking forward, Bark seeks to restore natural systems' capacities to mitigate the worst impacts of climate change on watersheds and drinking water sources. With reduced glacial melt and annual snowpack, summer flow, stream temperatures, and water quality will be diminished. Across the arid west, land managers are turning to nature's original hydrological engineers to help store water through dry periods, recharge aquifers, and protect aquatic habitat. A keystone species, beaver have always had a powerful impact on the landscape, but for nearly 200 years, they have been largely removed from their ecosystem. In 2018 Bark began a concentrated effort to help restore beaver to Mt. Hood National Forest in the hopes that their return will bring greater resilience to the forest ecosystem in the face of climate change.

Every year, the Forest Service proposes a suite of restoration projects to address the damage of these roads and historic logging practices ranging from the creation of in-stream fish habitat to decommissioning unneeded and ecologically harmful roads. You can find project details of current, proposed, and past restoration work in Mt. Hood National Forest at the link below.

Contact Courtney Rae, courtney@bark-out.org, to find out how you can help restore Mt. Hood!

 

Click here to view Restoration Projects

Project Status: 
In Progress

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Road decommissioning in the Collawash River Watershed

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