Mt. Hood National Forest Supervisor, Chris Worth, has withdrawn the 2,000 acre Jazz Timber Sale in response to an administrative appeal by Bark, the Portland-based environmental non-profit. Bark's appeal centered around two primary concerns. First was the plan to re-open twelve miles of previously decommissioned roads to facilitate logging of the Jazz Timber Sale. Second, evidence gathered by Bark indicates that Best Management Practices (BMPs) designed to protect water quality during timber operations, are not being implemented throughout the Clackamas River Watershed. In its appeal, Bark asserted that the decision on the Jazz Timber Sale falsely assumed implementation of BMPs. This appeal was the culmination of 600 hours of volunteer groundtruthing of the Jazz Timber Sale and community organizing efforts that resulted in 3,000 public comments opposing the sale.
Bark Program Director, Olivia Schmidt, comments "The withdrawal of the Jazz Timber Sale is a huge victory for the forest and the public. Had this project moved forward as planned, the Forest Service would sink more than $300,000 into the re-opening of roads that public funds have already invested in decommissioning. Re-opening those roads would have un-done the important restoration work implemented in the area to protect water quality of the Clackamas River Watershed which provides drinking water to Clackamas County residents."
Regarding the implication of the withdrawal, Ms. Schmidt says "We are heartened by Forest Supervisor Worth's move to withdraw the Jazz Timber Sale. The Forest Service proposes thousands of acres of logging in Mt. Hood National Forest every year and that number is growing due to a federal mandate to increase logging on public lands by 20%. Much of the logging on Mt. Hood is controversial 'restoration thinning,' a practice Bark has consistently challenged as counter to the needs of our forests and watersheds. Our opposition to this practice heightened when we discovered that BMPs, used by the Forest Service to mitigate the water quality damage inherent to logging operations, were not being implemented. Forest Supervisor Worth's withdrawal of Jazz validates Bark's position that logging posed as 'restoration' is in fact harming our public forests."
The Collawash River is a primary tributary of the Wild & Scenic Clackamas River, providing drinking water to over 300,000 Clackamas County residents. The Collawash River Watershed is the "most geologically unstable" in Mt. Hood National Forest, according to the Forest Service, and is home to many clean-water dependent animals including threatened Chinook and coho salmon, steelhead, and the rare Columbia dusky snail. Logging in the Jazz Timber Sale would have impacted 30 square miles, covering the entire watershed.
Bark will continue monitoring proposed logging projects in Mt. Hood National Forest, communicating our ongoing work to monitor the implementation of Best Management Practices to the Forest Service and stakeholders involved in proposals on our public lands. We are hopeful that exposing the impacts of 'restoration thinning' will move management of our public lands away from commercial extraction and toward improving quiet recreation access, clean drinking water, and healthy wildlife habitat.