Roads

46 local businesses and organizations call for Mt. Hood National Forest to Prioritize Restoration and Recreation

Today,  a coalition of local businesses and organizations, representing farmers, recreation groups, business owners, religious interests and conservations groups across the Mt. Hood region, called for Forest Supervisor Lisa Northrop to shift the focus of land management in Mt. Hood National Forest from logging to watershed health and recreation.

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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.

What will become of Waucoma Ridge?

About a 30-minute drive from Hood River, OR on the east side of Waucoma Ridge and south of Mt. Defiance you will find a vast and “stunningly beautiful” part of the forest that hides a network of old roads meandering through a diverse mosaic of forest types. This area has caught the eye of many local explorers including back country hikers and bikers, skiers, and trail runners. The Waucoma area is a recreation treasure, but according to Mt.

OR-25To hear the powerful howl of a wolf on Mount Hood is an event that many will diagnose as a sign of an ecosystem in true recovery. Many will also be chastised by the reappearance of a species unmatched in resilience and in it it’s long, intimate history with humanity, where subjugation and destruction have defined our role. Places like Wolf Camp Butte, Black Wolf Meadows, and Wolf Peak tell us that wolves have been part of the identity of Mt. Hood even in their absence.

Last year, wolf tracks were confirmed by wildlife agencies in the White River area of Mt. Hood National Forest for the first time in over fifty years. Scientists speculated that the wolf may have been traveling through, as no sightings or collar signals were documented. Early in 2015 OR-25, a lone 2-year old male wolf was confirmed roaming throughout the national forest and Warm Springs reservation. Wolves in Oregon are traveling hundreds of miles in search of new habitat that could support their return. Bark is humbled to have them trying out the forests we love. These wolves, seeking their rightful place in the landscape, represent why we fight to keep these forests standing.

The presence of dispersing wolves in the north Cascades begs the question - Is there suitable habitat to sustain a wolf population on Mt. Hood? With more than 4,000 miles of roads and logging occurring in thousands of acres of wildland every year, a paradigm shift will be necessary to keep wolves around.

OR-7The Forest Service’s outdated and politically girdled management plan fails to achieve ecological restoration, endangered species protection, watershed stability, or habitat recovery, instead prioritizing commercial logging.

Mt. Hood’s eco-tourism industry has an enormous opportunity, but it needs a partner in the U.S. Forest Service. Will it manage for people and wildlife? Or will it continue to manage for timber production?

The pending ODFW decision (November 9th, 2015) on whether to retain Endangered Species protections for wolves in Oregon and the upcoming revisions to the state's Wolf Conservation Management Plan and public lands management decisions present huge challenges as well as opportunities for the future of these animals. Sign up here to recieve notifications from ODFW about wolf sightings, policy, and public engagement opportunitites!

Contact us at (503) 331-0374 to get involved!
 

Project Status: 
Restoration
Habitat & Species
Habitat & Species: 

Kingdom:Animalia Phylum:Chordata Class:Mammalia Order:Carnivora Family:Canidae Subfamily:Caninae Tribe:Canini Genus:Canis Species:C. lupus

From 1900–1930, the gray wolf was virtually eliminated from the western USA and adjoining parts of Canada, because of intensive predator control programs aimed at eradicating the species.

Height: 26-32 inches at the shoulder
Length: 4.5-6.5 feet from nose to tail-tip
Weight: 55-130 lbs; Males are typically heavier and taller than the females.
Lifespan: 7-8 years in the wild. 12 years or more in remote or protected areas.
Mating Season: January or February.
Gestation: 63 days
Litter size: 4-7 pups

{Credit Defenders of Wildlife}

Prescriptions
Bark Comments: 

Wolves play a key role in keeping ecosystems healthy. They help keep deer and elk populations in check, which can benefit many other plant and animal species. The carcasses of their prey also help to redistribute nutrients and provide food for other wildlife species, like grizzly bears and scavengers. Scientists are just beginning to fully understand the positive ripple effects that wolves have on ecosystems.

Wolves eat ungulates, or large hoofed mammals, like elk, deer, moose and caribou, as well as beaver, rabbits and other small prey. Wolves are also scavengers and often eat animals that have died due to other causes.

Restrictions
Restrictions: 

Protection Status:

Endangered Species Act (Federal)

Alaska: Gray wolves are not listed as endangered in Alaska
Northern Rockies: Gray wolves in Idaho, Montana, and parts of Washington, Oregon and Utah were stripped of Endangered Species Act (ESA) protection in an unprecedented act by Congress in 2011. Gray wolves were delisted from the ESA by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) in Wyoming in 2012.
Great Lakes: Gray wolves are not listed as endangered in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Gray wolves are listed as endangered west of hiways 385, 78, and 95 in Oregon.

Gray wolves are considered endangered in any other part of the continental United States.

Endangered Species Act (Oregon)

Gray wolves are protected by the Oregon Endangered Species act througout the state as of November 1, 2015. Though this listing is currently being challenged by ODFW.

Oregon Wolf Conservation Management Plan

http://www.dfw.state.or.us/Wolves/docs/Oregon_Wolf_Conservation_and_Mana...

Maintaining Recreation Sites and Protecting the Watershed

A concerted effort is underway to shift the focus of land management in Mt. Hood National Forest (MHNF) from logging to watershed health, wildlife habitat and recreation.
 
The tip of the effort’s spear is Russ Plaeger, program director at Bark, of Portland.

Wildlife and Recreation Vs. Logging

The Mt. Hood National Forest (MHNF) is planting a mistaken footprint on our Mountain.
 
A shift is now required from focusing land management for logging, to watershed health, wildlife habitat and recreation opportunities.

Why you should be worrying about roads

Quick question:

What do you think poses the biggest obstacle both to ecosystem health and recreation access in our forests?

In case you hadn’t guessed it from the title, the answer is roads.

Believe it or not, Mt. Hood National Forest is caught in a web of roadways that, placed end to end, would stretch all the way to Miami, Florida—a good 3,000 miles away.

In October 2014, Mt. Hood National Forest officially launched its Travel Analysis Process (TAP). In December of the following year, the agency released it's conclusion to this process, the Travel Analysis Report (TAR).  This report outlines existing the road system and identify opportunities to achieve a "more sustainable system of roads," as defined by the Forest Service. This travel analysis report is part of nationwide requirement involving national forests across the country, but it is questionable how strictly the recommendations in this report will be followed. Read more about Bark's response to the report here.

The report is not a decision document—instead, it provides a non-binding analysis of where the existing road system is today. All future road-related projects will involve more opportunities for public input and engagement. Additional documents and information relating to this process are available here.

What is the Travel Analysis Process (TAP)?

The TAP is a nationwide project of the U.S. Forest Service to analyze the road networks in each of our public forests. The point of TAP is to determine what roads are needed for access in our forests, and which roads can be removed. The TAP is not only open to public participation — it requires widespread public input if it is to be successful in correcting the ecological and economic harm currently being wrought by the overblown road system in our National Forests.

If you only had the budget to maintain 15.8% of the roads in Mt. Hood, which ones would you keep?

This is exactly what the Mt. Hood Forest Service is asking itself as it launches its TAP. Do we keep the roads people need for recreation in the forest? Or do we keep as many old logging roads as possible so the timber industry can mow down trees whenever they please?

It’s up to us to provide the answer. The time has come to shift priorities in Mt. Hood and remove unneeded & ecologically damaging logging roads for good.

Read Bark's recommendations on Mt. Hood's Travel Analysis Process here!

Why remove roads?

Recreation access
It may seem counter intuitive, but less roads means more access to recreation areas. How so? Because the Forest Service has a limited budget for road maintenance. When total road miles exceed the maintenance budget, roads deteriorate, making access more difficult and in some cases impossible. By removing roads that are not needed for public access, such as old logging roads, the road maintenance budget can be focused to greater effect upon roads used most by forest visitors. Local economies Recreation generates five times as much revenue as the timber industry. And yet the Forest Service spends nearly twice as much on logging as it does on recreation. The Forest Service needs to get with the times. Modern forest jobs increasingly exist in harmony with the environment, and promote peaceful recreation.

Job creation
Recreation jobs outnumber logging and mill jobs by five to one. And as more and more visitors frequent rural towns surrounding recreation hotspots, more restaurants, boutiques, hotels, and lodges spring up, in turn providing further employment opportunities.

Water quality
Have you ever thought about what a road does when you’re not driving on it? It just sits there, right? Actually, most of it just sits there. But bit by bit, it starts to sit in other places too. What kind of other places? Mostly nearby stream and river beds, harming water quality and damaging fish habitat. In fact, according to the Forest Service, sediment from roads is greater than sediment from all other forest management activities combined. There’s only two ways to stop a road from doing this — provide frequent and costly maintenance, or remove it altogether.

Salmon and aquatic life
Sediment in waterways harms fish in several ways. For one, sediment tends to bond with toxic chemicals (often from passing cars), which the fish ingest or inhale. With increased sediment, oxygen levels in the water decrease, making it harder for fish like salmon to swim upstream to spawning grounds. When sunlight collides with particles in the water, it disperses into heat energy — so the more particles of sediment in the water, the higher the water temperature gets. Changes in water temperature can have drastic effects on what types of creatures can live there. Bottom line is, fish — especially salmon — like clear, cool streams. That means the best fishing spot is the one with only one road leading to it.

Wildlife habitat
Improved water quality doesn’t just mean healthier fish populations, it means the whole ecosystem begins to thrive. All living things benefit from clean water, and removing old logging roads is one of the best ways to keep our streams fresh and our rivers clear.

Forest diversity With fewer roads, more areas can recover from decades of logging. By removing old logging roads, we can give our public lands a chance to grow into the lush forests they were always meant to be.

Help Bark promote clean water, healthy habitats, and peaceful recreation in Mt. Hood!

We need passionate activist like you to provide comments on the Forest Service’s website, attend events, and contact decision makers to demand that recreation takes precedence over logging.

There has never been a more urgent time for our forests.

Click here to pitch in!

Project Status: 
Restoration

ACTION ALERT: Stop logging roads from limiting recreation

What if you could improve Oregon’s water quality, recreation access, and economy without spending a dime?

Mt. Hood National Forest is in crisis. Though it supports a $50 million tourist economy, the Forest Service can only aford to maintain 15.8% of its 3,000-mile road network. Most are old, disused logging roads that dump sediment into our waterways and damage salmon habitat. And with road maintenance budgets spread thin, even roads to popular recreation areas are crumbling.

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Sandy Post: Mt. Hood Forest office site of protester's efforts

“The timber sale program in our national forest is broken... We’re here to change what’s happening in our own backyard.”

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