Asit Rathod knows Mount Hood.
Activists with the environmental group Bark, who call themselves the “defenders of Mount Hood,” are challenging a 3,000-acre timber sale planned for the north side of the mountain.
Bark has been fighting the Forest Service over the logging of public lands for more than a decade, with a focus on Mt. Hood National Forest, the million-acre swath of land that includes watersheds, wetlands, and wildlife as well as the mountain at its center. The group was instrumental in blocking past timber sales on the north side of the mountain back when opposition was high to a proposed expansion by Mt. Hood Meadows around the Cooper Spur Ski Resort. The Cooper Spur expansion died when Meadows began work on the long-delayed Mt. Hood Land Exchange, but one of the nearby logging plans has now been revived.
The property lies about 10 miles south of Parkdale, in the vicinity of US 35, the East Fork of Hood River, Tilly Jane Ski Trail, Cooper Spur and Elk Meadows. Here’s a link to a map.
The Forest Service’s stated reason for the Polallie-Cooper Timber Sale is “to reduce the fire hazard in order to protect life and property and to restore forest to conditions that are more resilient to wildfire on National Forest System lands.” The proposal calls for 1,900 acres of “Recently Unmanaged Stand Thinning,” 440 acres of “Plantation Thinning” and 620 acres of “Sapling Thinning.” The Forest Service also proposes building eight miles of new roads to facilitate logging.
Bark disputes the notion that the logging of Polallie Cooper will create a forest more resilient to wildfires. The group is sending volunteers door-to-door in Portland to raise support and collect donations to stop the logging. A Bark organizer stopped by my house just the other night, and we chatted for a while, although I wasn't working at the time so I never got his name. He was handing out info, collecting signatures and trying to raise money in inner Northaest Portland.
Polallie Cooper is one of three planned timber sales for the northern portion of the Mt. Hood National Forest. The two other sales are Red Hill (east of Lost Lake) and Lava (near the site of the 2011 Dollar Lake Fire). The three sales could combine for more than 7,000 acres of logging on the north side of Mount Hood, according to Bark's research.
I am curious to take a trip out to the area that would be thinned, to take some photos and have a closer look.