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Environmental Analysis of Election

In this alert, Bark will assess how five races: President-elect Barack Obama, Senator-elect Jeff Merkley (claimed victory today!), Congressman-elect Kurt Schrader, Oregon treasurer-elect Ben Westlund, and Oregon Secretary of State-elect Kate Brown, could change the future of Mt. Hood and America's other National Forests.
Serene Lake seen from crest of Roaring River Wilderness trail,
Serene Lake seen from crest of Roaring River Wilderness trail,
Mt Hood seen from Ramona Falls trail
Mt Hood seen from Ramona Falls trail
Proposed Palomar Pipe Line crossing of the Clackamas River
Proposed Palomar Pipe Line crossing of the Clackamas River
Mill Creek Field Trip, east side forests
Mill Creek Field Trip, east side forests
Solo Tree sit,, Bark 2005 Botany Hike
Solo Tree sit,, Bark 2005 Botany Hike
Road damage along Road 4610, No Whiskey Timber Sale Hike, 2005
Road damage along Road 4610, No Whiskey Timber Sale Hike, 2005
Will timber continue to be primary goal of the Forest Service? Or will these new leaders begin the long-overdue reconstruction of the Forest Service to an agency that meets the needs of Americans and the land we depend on--protecting our drinking water, providing recreational opportunities, and restoring ecosystems?

Bark's experience with Mt. Hood National Forest and strong relationships with surrounding communities puts us in a strong position to bring new ideas to these new leaders. Please support a new direction for Mt. Hood by donating today.

President-elect Barack Obama: Will first 300 days set new direction for the Forest Service or simply undo Bush-era policies?

Senator-elect Jeff Merkley: Will Merkley be a follower or leader? Will he re-align National Forest management with American priorities?

(Congressman-elect Kurt Schrader: In the best position to put Oregonians to work restoring Mt. Hood National Forest.

State lands board: Secretary of State-elect Kate Brown and Treasurer Ben Westlund determine fate of the Palomar Pipeline.

President-elect, Barack Obama
First 300 days will determine extent of recovery from Bush-era attacks on forests; cabinet-level appointments will forecast the future direction of national forest management.

Authority: Enforce laws passed by congress, make Executive Orders, appoint cabinet (E.g. Secretary of Agriculture and Interior) and other executive branch positions (E.g. Undersecretary of Ag., who oversees Forest Service), and set tone of governance through executive branch policy.

Election platform on national forests: Supports Roadless Rule, will "repair the damage done to our national parks by inadequate funding," and "emphasize the protection and restoration of our National Forests."

Prediction: Barack Obama's strong statements on National Forests will be tempered by his energy policy and the recession. Bark will be on the forefront of this potential conflict as biomass and geothermal energy production become new drivers for logging Mt. Hood National Forest, adding to the damage done by the traditional timber sale program.

Reason for hope:
The mandate for reversing Bush-era attacks on national forests is clear after a landslide win. Obama will replace former timber industry lobbyist, Mark Rey, with a new Undersecretary of Agriculture. This appointment will set a new tone for the Forest Service.
Geothermal and biomass development in Mt. Hood National Forest is cost-prohibitive and likely to remain small without massive taxpayer subsidies.
The recession provides Obama an opportunity to expand his proposed "Green Job Corps" to include training and job creation for family-wage jobs restoring watersheds through road removal and infrastructure improvements, replacing timber jobs that have a negative effect on our watersheds.

U.S. Senator-elect Jeff Merkley.
National Forests like Mt. Hood are more important than ever for clean water, recreation, and wildlife. Will Oregon's first democratic duo in the U.S. Senate since 1967 bring the Forest Service in-line with 21st century demands?

Authority: Represent the people of the State of Oregon in passing laws in the United States Senate.

Election platform on National Forests: Supports protecting Oregon's old-growth and roadless forests and will focus on "thinning young stands and restoration to improve water quality and habitat for fish and wildlife."

Prediction: Unseating the right-wing "bi-partisan" juggernaut, Gordon Smith, by a narrow margin will make the junior U.S. Senator cautious and likely only to play a supportive roll in existing efforts to protect roadless and old-growth forests.

Reason for hope: Oregonians are focused on the economy and rising unemployment. At the same time America's natural capital, like clean drinking water, is being damaged by a crumbling National Forest infrastructure. Translation: If Merkley wants to put Oregonians to work, he has the perfect opportunity to create family-wage jobs planning and implementing infrastructure improvements in our National Forests, including removing thousands of miles of unnecessary roads.

Mt. Hood National Forest, which provides drinking water to one-third of Oregon residents AND contains 2,000 miles of road deemed "unnecessary" by the Forest Service, is the perfect place to start such a program.
In addition, Merkley is likely to join a growing call for stopping LNG development and expanding protected Wilderness areas in Oregon.

U.S. Congressman-elect Kurt Schrader
The fifth congressional district contains nearly half of Mt. Hood National Forest, including the threatened Clackamas River watershed. Kurt Schrader is perfectly positioned to put Oregonians to work restoring this national gem.

Authority: Represents residents of Oregon's fifth U.S. congressional district in passing laws in the United States House of Representatives.

Election platform on National Forests: "Right now, wildfires are wreaking havoc in our forests and releasing vast amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere." He supports thinning forests and harvesting the resulting biomass to produce energy.

Prediction: Statements on Schrader's website indicate that he believes current federal forest policy is not working. As of yet, it is unclear who he will look to for advice on "fixing" the Forest Service, although Schrader's official platform statements mirror those of timber industry groups like American Forest Resources Council. No clear predictions here.

Reason for hope:
Clackamas County represents the future of National Forests.

Logging private timber lands remains important in Clackamas County, but logging Mt. Hood National Forest does not.
In 2002, Clackamas County produced 81.6 million board feet (mmbf) of timber1, of which approximately 6.9mmbf came from Mt. Hood National Forest2.
In 2007, the timber market soared because of housing, and Clackamas County responded by producing 130mmbf of timber1, while only 6.2mmbf came from Mt. Hood National Forest2.
Industry consolidation and increased mechanical efficiency has led to fewer jobs created by increased harvest levels. In 2002 Clackamas County employed 1,075 timber-related jobs but in 2007, when the harvest increased by 60%, only 36 more timber-related jobs were created3.

Meanwhile, high quality of living in the County has led to population growth, a phenomenon best illustrated by the Clackamas Tourism Development Council's "Mt. Hood Territory" campaign, which highlights the reasons for visiting a county that contains such natural wonders. Schrader is perfectly positioned to make Clackamas County a major beneficiary of a Forest Service reorganization: putting Oregonians to work fixing Mt. Hood National Forest's crumbling transportation infrastructure, securing clean water and healthy fish runs, and creating a world-class recreation destination.

Oregon State Lands Board
The Oregon State Lands Board, comprised of Governor Ted Kulongoski, Secretary of State-elect Kate Brown, and State Treasurer-elect Ben Westlund, has authority over the permitting of the Palomar Pipeline, which would clearcut 40 miles across Mt. Hood National Forest.

Authority: The Oregon State Lands Board oversees the leasing of state land, which includes lands needed for the building of Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) terminals and the Palomar Pipeline.

Election platforms on LNG:

"I'm not convinced the LNG (liquefied natural gas) pipeline meets my goals of moving toward reducing our dependence on foreign fuel and reducing our dependence on fossil fuels," Kate Brown said in an October interview with Capital Press.

Ben Westlund expressed a willingness to remain open to LNG in Oregon to the Oregonian and Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Prediction: Governor Kulongoski, Secretary of State-elect Brown, and State Treasurer-elect Westlund will stop LNG from threatening our state, our safety and our livelihoods.

Reason for hope:
The Oregon Department of Energy's March, 2008 report stated that Oregon does not need foreign-based LNG to meet consumer demands. This provides the Oregon State Lands Board with enough evidence to not issue leases to LNG developers.
Furthermore, NO LNG activists from Astoria to Coos Bay helped elect John Kroeger as Oregon's next Attorney General, who has publicly stated his opposition to LNG, and Jeff Merkley as U.S. Senator-elect, who has also raised concerns about LNG in Oregon.
Put these factors together: lack of need, overwhelming public opposition, and elected officials who listen to their constituents, and the message is simple: Oregonians Agree, NO LNG!

(Now is a good time to contact these elected officials and let them know your priorities concerning the environment. They need to hear from us right out of the gate how much we value clean air, clean water and recreation.) 1 USDA Forest Service Timber Products Output Mapmaker Version 1.0;

2 USDA Forest Service, Mt. Hood National Forest Cut and Sold Report FY02, FY07

3 Oregon Department of Employment: Covered Employment and Payroll Clackamas County

homepage: homepage: http://www.bark-out.org


Timber the primary goal of the Foerst Service..... Pleazzzzzzzzz 08.Nov.2008 22:11

Are you real?

How can anybody think the that Timber is the primary goal of the Service

What you see is an inept organization that is more focused on their own feel good bureaucracy than providing any sound forest management for the long term sustained services the forest can provide.

The Forest Service is a noneffective bureaucracy

Let-Burn Program 09.Nov.2008 22:00

Mtn_high

For 8 years, the eco's AND the Bush Administration have been united in forest destruction, by imposing this illegal, unnatural and morally-bankrupt program of letting wildfires roam "free range" without required NEPA studies and public input. You can bet Obama will NOT "change" this program. Mega-firestorms have already been mapped out. Even though last season was a mild year for fires, the Forest Service fire budget was zeroed out with a month left to go in the fiscal year, so they stole money from other resource fundings, instead.

Are you ready for an estimated 320,000,000 tons of greenhouse gasses to spew into our upper atmosphere during the first 4 years of Obama? Are you ready for vaporized topsoil? How about crispy-fried spotted owl nests? How about old growth turned into brushfields? Should archeological sites be torched at high intensities? And just what "resources objectives are being accomplished" in these let-burn projects. How are the forests being benefitted from high intensity fires being "monitored" by Forest Service personnel?

When I was a firefighter in the early 80's, we'd always say "Black forests mean greener wallets". That means so much more in today's Forest Service.

Thank you for this great analysis 10.Nov.2008 08:27

StevetheGreen

While it should go without saying that an Obama presidency is hardly a panicea for curing the greed of the multi-national corporations (whose interests and whose agenda always seem to supercede those of people and the planet), there is some tangible evidence to suggest the next several days (and indeed the next several months) could provide alot of opportunity to make substantial headway in protecting what limited old growth remains in this state. That is not to say that the Democrats will suddenly do an about face and stop serving their corporate masters, they won't. But with enough pressure from citizen activist groups in this critical point in time, we might be able to push them toward opposing the latest of the precious resource grabs.

Consider the differences between an Obama appointed secretary of the interior and secretary of agriculture versus the Mark Rey and Gail Norton's of the past. Consider an emboldened Kulongowski who will find many more allies in opposing LNG and protecting BLM lands threatened by WOPR. Consider the difference between a Gordon Smith and a Jeff Merkley forest management agenda.

We need to hold Obama's feet to the fire right out of the gate.

Throw out the past, focus on the future 24.Nov.2008 09:54

Mtn_high

We have what we have in our forests. What will Obama do to save and restore ecosystems to their former grandeur? What will he "change"? What will he keep? What is his plan?

If climate change were magically fixed tomorrow, our forests would still be in dire straights. Again, he BARELY even mentioned forests despite MILLIONS of acres dead and MILLIONS of tons of GHG's going into our atmosphere.

What "can" be done and what WILL be done?? Can even one person answer?

America is waiting!