Not-So ‘Crystal Clear’ Lumber Plan

Over the past month, the US Forest Service has started the process selling off logging rights in the Mt Hood Wilderness on over 13,000 acres of mostly old-growth forest land.  Just off of highway 26 between Government Camp & Bend, this is a chunk of forest roughly the size of Manhattan.  Taking a page out of a terrible 90’s marketing book that our current president may have skimmed, they’re cleverly calling it the “Crystal Clear Restoration Project” as a guise for preventing future forest fires.  ‘Clear’ because of neighboring Clear Lake, ‘Crystal’ because of it’s association with clean, sparkly and cool, and ‘Restoration’ because that just makes it sound like a good thing.

…are you swindled yet…?

 

If you look at the facts though, not sure this decision is so ‘crystal clear’.  Forest fires in the area are rare, as it’s high-elevation moist forestland, and the historical records that the USFS has provided show that the few numbers of fires started have been caused by man…so if they were serious about preventing forest fires, you’d think that they would maybe increase restrictions on fire use in the area?  Increase enforcement of current laws, increased fines, right?

…nah, that makes too much sense.

 

 

 

 

The area is mostly old-growth forest to the southeast of Mt Hood that has never been logged, and is set in the watersheds of the White River, Beaver Creek & Deschutes River, with multiple tributaries running through the section planned for logging.  Although riparian sections around these streams are mapped, the historical use (and likely planned to be used here) of herbicides to prevent shrubs from taking over before replanting has been shown to damage fish stocks in neighboring waterways.

Sooo thats cool for anyone who likes to fish.

 

In addition to being part of the critical habitat areas for the northern spotted owls, this is also one of the few areas where Wolves have been recorded making a comeback after nearly being eradicated from western Oregon decades ago.  Wolves are a keystone species in western ecosystems, and if you’ve followed their reintroduction in Yellowstone, you can understand the benefits our wild lands would see from having more wolves around.  Furthermore, these ancient forests aren’t only a great habitat for all kinds of wildlife diversity, but they serve as a major carbon sink that helps reduce the effects of climate change, and this rich carbon load helps stabilize local atmospheric moisture & temperatures that results in more consistent snowfall, rainfall and waterflows.

 

 

 

 

The list goes on and on, but the bottom line is this:  It’s 2017 – we should know better.  Yes, things are crazy right now, yes our president is a _____ and doesn’t believe in climate change, yes we may all get bombed by North Korea next week, but damnit – this is our future.  We can learn from the mistakes of our past and use scientific fact as a guide to secure a better future for us all, so we can keep enjoying this awesome part of the world.  We’ve gotta keep nature neat.

 

 

 

 

 

What can I do?

Glad you asked!  The comment period for the scoping phase of this project has ended, but you can still send your comments directly to the USFS for consideration.  There will be another public comment time coming soon, but until then, feel free to hit up Casey Gatz at the following mailing address:

 

Casey Gatz, Team Leader – comments-pacificnorthwest-mthood-barlow@fs.fed.us

Barlow Ranger District

Mt. Hood National Forest

780 NE Court Street

Dufur, OR 97021

 

Let them know how you feel about the project, why it’s important to you & our future, and why you think this project should be rethought and ideally, scrapped.

 

For more information on the project, check out what our friends at BARK have put together about the Crystal Clear Restoration Project and it’s recent developments.

 

– Ross @ Rime