Roads

The White River Watershed, located in the east of Mt. Hood National Forest, contains approximately 555 miles of roads. In 2010 the Forest Service released a draft proposal to decommission approximately one-third (200 miles) of the unneeded and minimally used roads in order to improve terrestrial and aquatic habitat, and reduce road maintenance costs. Although this proposal fell significantly short of meeting the Forest Service’s stated goal of a 50 percent reduction to the existing road network, it was a big step in the right direction.

Unfortunately the final plan did not arrive and in winter 2013 the road decommissioning increments were put on hold, stalling analysis for Increments 3 and 4, as well as implementation of all increments.

Bark was quite excited when we were told the White River Decommissioning analysis would soon begin again – that is until the Forest Service released a new scoping letter in May of 2014 for Increment 3. This most recent proposal would decommission a mere ten miles of roads throughout the White River Watershed. This is less than two percent of the road network in the watershed (remember- the Forest Service says they will eventually need to remove half of the roads) and it a huge step back from the plan the agency initiated in 2010!

The public can submit comments to the Forest Service on this proposal until May 30th, 2014. Send your comments to:

Casey Gatz, Hood River Ranger District
Mt. Hood National Forest
6780 Hwy 35, Parkdale, Oregon, 97041
Fax: 503-352-7365
Email: comments-pacificnorthwest-mthood-hoodriver@fs.fed.us

Background on the Incremental Road Decommissioning process- 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 and recreation and conservation allies 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.  Increments 1, 2a and 2b completed analysis for the removal of 334 miles of roads throughout 3 sub-watersheds.

 

Project Status: 
Restoration
General Information
District: 
Barlow Ranger District and Hood River Ranger District
Watershed: 

White River Watershed

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.

Bark worked with the Clackamas Stewardship Partners, a collaborative group in the Clackamas Ranger District to influence the Forest Service to focus restoration funds on an area in the Upper Clackamas Watershed to complete a pilot project that would include a full inventory of the existing road system and use the data to implement a full road decommissioning and aquatic restoration plan for the watershed.

Increment 1 will result in 113 miles of road closures in the Upper Clackamas Watershed. Bark continues to work with the Forest Service to see this work implemented. We hope that this will create a model for forest-wide travel planning for all roads.

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

Upper Clackamas River Watershed

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

Deconstruction in process

Decommissioning old Forest Service roads in the Mt. Hood National Forest benefits plants, wildlife, humans

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Congress Passes $50 Million for Watershed Restoration

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