On Sunday, November 18th, 40 people converged on the Solo Timber Sale in the Mt. Hood National Forest for a workshop and hike focusing on identifying protected species of lichen and moss.
The crowd was diverse, hailing from Northern California up to Olympia, Washington, and including some visiting high school students from Colorado.
Morning began with an amazing (and educational) workshop on lichens, moss, and old growth ecology. Specimens of rare lichens were passed around during a lesson in how to report your finds to the Forest Service.
As afternoon, and cold winds, rolled in, folks re-arranged themselves into three groups. One group began upper canopy surveys for rare lichens and moss, while two other groups split off to hike parts of the sale in search of the same.
The geographic diversity of the crowd highlighted the importance of dispersal of lichen and moss survey techniques to the grassroots activists protecting our public forests.
Currently, species surveys are one of the most effective ways to protect special areas on our public lands in the Pacific Northwest. Under the Survey and Manage Lawsuitócertain species are required to receive special attention - at times even large buffer zones. Often, the USFS does not do as thorough a job as they could on their surveys. For example, many rare lichens and moss in old growth forests are canopy dwellers. Often surveys for these species are done on the ground. By going up in the canopy to search for these species, we can possibly protect certain trees or parts of ecosystems.
One example of a survey success story is the Clark Timber Sale. There, the discovery of Red Tree Vole nests have resulted in the cancellation of over half the Clark or Fall Creek timber sale, where tree sitters have defended the area for over 3 years. Red Tree Voles are small, red, furry mammals that live in the tree tops of old Douglas fir trees. They are a favored feast of the Northern Spotted Owl.
With the flood-gates about to open on unimaginable numbers of old growth timber sales, from the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in southwest Washington, down through the Cascade and Siskiyou ranges, species surveys have become an important line of defense.
Learning to survey for these species, or just to be aware of them while hiking, can help protect our public forests.
SOLO TIMBER SALE: The Solo timber sale will essentially clear-cut 216 acres of mature and old growth forest in the Oak Grove Watershed, off of Highway 57 (to Timothy Lake). The auction date for this beautiful forest may not be far away. Currently, parts of the sale are on hold due the discovery of a 'survey and manage' species, the Malone Jumping Slug. However, attempts are underway to re-classify the slug, allowing the sale to move forward.
PHONE CALLS: Call Mt. Hood Forest Supervisor Gary Larsen at (503) 668-1700 and demand that the Solo timber sale be cancelled. Call Senator Wyden at (503) 326-7525 and urge cancellation of the Solo timber sale, and end to the commercial timber sale program (which gives us sales like Solo and Eagle Creek), and demand immediate cancellation of all 'replacement volume' sales!
TO GET INVOLVED: For more information on Solo, the commercial timber sale program, or getting involved in lichen and moss surveys contact the Cascadia Forest Alliance: (503) 241-4879 ,www.cascadiaforestalliance.org or BARK: (503) 331-0374, www.bark-out.org