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Clear cut causes road closure.

For two years, Hult Road has been closed, causing concern to rural residents.
For almost two years, Hult Road, which connects Colton to Beavercreek Road, has been closed due to a massive land slide. The slide occurred after a homeowner obtained a permit from Clackamas County to clear cut his property. It was shocking to drive through that area just after the cut and to be certain even without a degree in geology that very soon, after the rains came, there would be serious erosion taking place. That is just what happened. The land slumped right over Hult Road and continues to move down the steep valley.

The county did 'repair' the damage once, at a cost of $150,000, but the repair did not hold. The road was open for about a month before being closed once again. Now, according to Cindy Fama who writes for the Molalla Pioneer, there is a crack in the center of the road now, and a large undercut beneath the downhill side. Ms. Fama also mentioned that she spoke with several people living along this road who now have to drive extra miles to do their shopping, pick up children from school, and get their mail in town. People delivering newspapers suddenly have to drive at least seven miles out of their way to make their circuit since this closure. There are mail delivery difficulties, the fire department has to change routes, and all persons commuting to Oregon City and beyond have extra miles added to their drive. All of this adds to the carbon footprints of people in this area.

I contacted the Clackamas County Commissioner's Office to see what was going to happen next, and Don Ehrich, Road Operations Manager, wrote saying, "We are wrestling with this road closure and trying to formulate a strategy for dealing with the current subsidence in a cost effective manner. We are aware of several slides along Hult Road that have been active off and on for many years and are trying to analyze what future activity may take place before we commit anymore public funds to temporary repairs of the current problem area."

What I still want to find out is how a permit could have been issued for such a drastic timber cut by a county who claims it does not permit clear cutting. I have lived in this area for nearly 30 years and did not observe the active slides mentioned in Mr. Ehrich's note, but would have assumed that once each and every tree and shrub is cut off of a steep hillside, that slides would occur.

Now it is time for the citizens out here to stand together like those in St. Helen's have done regarding the tire burning proposal in their city. Though we live in rural areas, most of us participate in and learn from actions in Portland. I will keep you posted about this small community and its big road problem.

Clear Cuts Cause Landslides 06.Jul.2007 18:56

me

I wonder just how prevalent this problem is. I would think it's probably a huge issue, that is just being kept quiet by counties that still try to live off timber revenues. I see huge swaths of land clear cut on the road out to the coast, too. And I wonder about the homes at the bottoms of the steep, clear-cut slopes. What is wrong with people that they don't recognize the danger?

I think the people who cut the timber should have to pay for all the damage and destruction. Why should the rest of us be subsidizing their foolish profits? They should have to pay for the landslides, the erosion, the loss of water filtering, the degradation of streams and rivers, the loss of clean air, the release of carbon into the atmosphere, the damage to the ecosystems....

Clackamas county is pro extractive 08.Jul.2007 22:09

Ned

It doesn't surprise me one bit about the Hult road situation. I live on Beavercreek road and have seen over the last ten years dozens of clearcuts arise where there was once old forest. After the initial destructive phase, usually the landowner is encouraged to plant mono-culture doug fir tree farms. This practice of growing trees on short rotations involves heavy fertilizer and pesticide use. Most of the creeks that feed into Milk Creek and the Molalla River are designated water quality limited by the DEQ. When I called the state a few years ago about water quality, they basically said we don't have the money to test the streams and ascertain where the toxins are originating from.It is apparent that the state and county have a laissez faire type attitude with the ag and logging industries in the county. The county and state govts. know where their bread is buttered. Unfortunately, when a failure happens do to their lack of environmental stewardship, the small landowners usually pay for their mistakes. One measure 37 claim off of Beavercreek road calls for the entire drainage of Little Cedar Creek to be clearcut, roaded and then subdivided into Mcmansions. Avison lumber owns like 900 acres in the watershed and threatened the county with a 20 million dollar bill if they couldn't develop the watershed. Obviously, the county green lighted the whole stinking procedure with little or no public input. Little Cedar creek was the last fairly intact watershed in the Milk creek drainage. It is surrounded by a sea of X-mas tree monoculture. It is truly tragic to see so much greed ooze from some of our fellow citizens. How much money does one person or company need to make to be happy. In the case of Avison, they have cut trees for decades to stay in business and also mine aggregate at their quarry. One would think they have made their fair share of profits, but now they want to destroy our rural way of life.

Clear cut not completely to blame 23.Aug.2007 18:51

Dick

I am a resident imediately adjacent to the clear cut. What is not readily known is that the clear cut is not the only contributing factor to the slide and subsequent road closure. The individual responsible for the clear cut received permits not only from the county, but ultimately from three different governmental agencies. What he didn't get approved was one of the biggest contributing factors to the slides. After the trees were gone he took in heavy equipment and began to dig. This disturbed the soil to a great extent. He was after the large underground boulders. It seems that landscaping companies are willing to pay a significant amount for these. After the boulders were removed and the soil replaced, it was only a matter of a little rain before the steep hillside collapsed.