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Bark February Field Trip to Mill Creek Timber Sale

The February Monthly Bark Field Trip was to the Mill Creek Timber Sale, located about 15 miles south of Hood River, a few miles east of Highway 35.
Sandi Scheinberg, Bark Hike Leader
Sandi Scheinberg, Bark Hike Leader
Studying animal tracks; these are deer tracks
Studying animal tracks; these are deer tracks
Hare tracks
Hare tracks
a prism of Ponderosa Pine
a prism of Ponderosa Pine
Ian discussing a local lichen
Ian discussing a local lichen
scene demonstrating ravages of past management practices
scene demonstrating ravages of past management practices
remarkable thickness of tree bark and fire resistant qualities
remarkable thickness of tree bark and fire resistant qualities
Red Belted Conk-one of many kinds of conks in the ara
Red Belted Conk-one of many kinds of conks in the ara
abundant beauty, abundant inspiration
abundant beauty, abundant inspiration
Nature'sa condominium
Nature'sa condominium
Clumped growth provides USFS with an excuse to manage for timber production
Clumped growth provides USFS with an excuse to manage for timber production
Twenty seven people attended the Hike, which was led by Sandi Scheinberg, Executive Director of Bark. Besides discussing this particular timber sale, Sandi talked about endangered species, the importance of snags to wildlife, the impact of roads on species, and throughout the hike, pointed out and identified various animal tracks. Among these were deer, snowshoe hare and bobcat.
This audio file contains excerpts from the Mill Creek hike. Sandi start out by defining Bark, as a "forest conservation group, whose mission is to preserve the forests, waters and wildlife of Mt. Hood National Forest." The timber sale is defined and the theme of the hike, "which is endangered species. There are a number of endangered species which inhabit this area. We have a winter run of steelhead that come up in the Northfork.............we have the northern spotted owl, and we have some other critters which haven't been actually spotted out here, but they could be present out here if real good surveys were done, or if the area were managed real well in the future, this might be a good place for them to find a home."
"One of the things I want to focus our attention upon while we're around and about is our natural surroundings. Look up at the sky, check out the weather, notice the trees, look down at the ground, see if you see any tracks in the snow," The day was a perfect blend of sun, snow, even of sun and snow simultaneously. The snow pack was unusually shallow for this time of year, so shallow in fact that snow shoes were unnecessary, the deepest snow we encountered being only about 4 inches deep.
Throughout the hike Sandi discussed various aspects of forest ecology, and how the timber sale could impact individual animal species and the diversity of species whose delicate balance of complex components accounts for the "forest" as we experience it. For instance, roads cut an impenetrable swath through the landscape that often will sever populations of small animals, who will not venture out into the openness of the road bed for fear of predators. Logging also opens up large patches of the forest which create much the same problem. A deer can cross the road, a salamander or insect may not.
Another subject of conversation was the many dead standing trees called snags, which provide a multi tiered habitat for a variety of insects, fungus and the larger animals, such as birds, who feed off this abundance of life. These snags are an important part of the total rhythm, but unfortunately, many of those who set our forest policy don't understand these complexities of forest ecology. "I've heard, actually our politicians when I've sat down with them, say that we have to get all that dead and dying wood out of the forest....it's a mess, the forests are a mess." Another opportunity for citizens to step forward, take the initiative and educate those whose concepts and ideas of Nature are outdated.
The day went quickly and too soon we arrived back at the cars, ready for the long drive off the mountain, returning to the city and the fast paced surge of traffic, of stop and go signs and list of things to do. But, we take a piece of Mother Earth back with us, a scrap of knowledge here, an insight there, a growing awareness that, despite her great power, Mother Nature is being needlessly harried and hurried and harassed for the profit of a few, and to the detriment of us all. A 20 minute audio file:
Mill Creek Field Trip

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