Going out to see east 5 mile after not being there for a year was like seeing an old friend who has undergone some incredible surgery. Last time I was there was in the winter of 2003. I and three other had made a commitment to ground truth as many of the 18 units on East Five mile and just as many on West Five mile. The eastern part of this sale is on land that is quite different from the West side of Mt. Hood. It has a climate that is much more dry and seemingly delicate. There is a larger quantity of Ponderosa Pines, Old White Oak and Larch. It is obvious that these units have been logged before due to the large lichen covered stumps that one Bark ground truther estimated at 80 - 100 years old; that was just the stump.
On this particular trip many emotions came up while walking through Unit 8, Anger, sadness and guilt among many others. On the surface it seems the Forest service is making money from partially cutting these units for the health of the overall forest. Under the surface of what we see there is the lingering question of: Why are they taking BIG trees 26"+? The units prescription in the EA described a process of removing standing DEAD trees, 15-30% of the canopy thus decreasing the overall fuel loads in these areas... And When I see bleeding stumps and large diameter trees laying in piles, I worry. It is also disheartening to see these units adjacent to old Clear cuts.
Mostly what troubles me is the efforts with which we try and change these "healthy forest" practices seems similar to that old metaphor about tossing the starfish back in the sea after coming across a beach-load full of them... It is a discouraging experience seeing masses of new cut trees waiting for the mill. We did see new growth and that at least reassures me that the forest will continue to grow, and heal from these new cuttings.