We’re deep in the west Cascade wilderness, standing among a few sparsely scattered trees in a clearing otherwise void of life. We climb over loosely packed piles of twigs and needles – the dried remains of Douglas and noble fir that once flourished in this recently logged patch of forest.
We’re at ground zero, and depending on how you look at it, it’s either a heartbreaking scene of destruction or a stage set for rejuvenation.
The height of the Northwest’s timber wars may be a distant memory, but a fierce debate over how publicly owned forests should be managed rages on.
The U.S. Forest Service says active management of national forests, including some logging, is necessary for forest health, restoration and the benefit of the public and local economies.
Forest watchdog groups say these restoration projects are nothing more than timber sales thinly veiled as restoration, and when logging operators move in, they often cause more harm than good.
Are these restoration projects helping or hindering America’s beloved national forests? Both sides have studies, scientists and other experts backing up their claims.
To get an on-the-ground understanding of this debate, Street Roots invited the Forest Service and an environmental group with a history of suing it to join us on a field trip into Mount Hood National Forest to see how this modern-era timber war is playing out in Portland’s backyard.
But before we venture any farther into the woods, it’s important to understand how we got here in the first place.
Forest management today
Two significant changes to forest management rose out of the jobs-versus-environment debate of the early 1990s.
For one, President Bill Clinton unveiled the Northwest Forest Plan in 1994, creating rules for managing 24.6 million acres of federal land in northern spotted owl territory spanning Oregon, Washington and northern California. Since then, lawsuits have been fewer and logging in national forests has decreased drastically. Timber cut from Mount Hood National Forest in 2014 was 12 percent of what it was in 1990.
In forest management, the rules are dense, the terms many and the politics complicated. To follow along on our field trip, understanding a few basic principles is necessary.
When the Northwest Forest Plan was enacted, the 19 national forests in its jurisdiction amended their individual forest plans accordingly. Under the updated rules of Mount Hood National Forest’s plan, timber harvest for producing wood products can occur only in areas designated for “timber emphasis.” When logging does occur in those areas, the Forest Service must follow hundreds of standards and guidelines put in place to protect wildlife, water quality and scenery.
Logging can occur in areas designated as reserves, but the rules governing those areas are even stricter; timber can be removed only to specifically benefit the forest and dependent species. These reserves include “late successional reserves,” which either contain old growth or have been selected to evolve into old-growth forest, and “riparian reserves,” which are areas adjacent to waterways, including rivers, wetlands and seasonal streams.
Forest plan revisions now underway may put these protections at risk because the Forest Service has indicated it wants to do away with the regional plan.
RELATED ARTICLE: Protections at risk as Forest Service revises regional plans
Also stemming from the timber wars decades ago was the establishment of collaborative groups. Their purpose is to bring together timber interests, environmentalists, elected officials, citizens and the Forest Service to come to a consensus on whether a restoration project or timber sale should move forward. Ultimately, however, it’s the Forest Service that makes the final decision. There are 26 collaborative groups in Oregon.
Earlier this year, members of 19 environmental groups spanning the U.S., including two in Oregon, issued a statement claiming their voices are ignored at these collaborative-group meetings, and the “over-riding goal has become economic return to local communities and/or the timber industry.”
Most stated they were withdrawing from the collaborative process altogether, a move that will likely lead to an increase in the lawsuits these groups were created to avoid.
Mount Hood National Forest watchdog group Bark signed the statement, but it hasn’t given up entirely on the collaborative process.
Bark frequently files objections to proposed Forest Service projects when it finds the Forest Service strays from governing forest plans.
In cases where Bark believes the Forest Service is outright breaking the law or that logging activities will significantly harm protected areas, it takes the Forest Service to court.
Since Bark’s formation in 1998, it has sued to stop projects 10 times, winning half of those lawsuits.
Foray into Mount Hood National Forest
Accompanying Street Roots on the Sept. 25 field trip were two Bark staffers, attorney Brenna Bell and Forest Watch Coordinator Michael Krochta, and two Forest Service employees who work in the Mount Hood National Forest, District Ranger Jackie Groce and Silviculturist Glenda Goodwyne.
Goodwyne prescribed the restoration projects on our field trip agenda. As a silviculturist, it’s her job to evaluate each stand, or grouping, of trees in a proposed project and decide how it should or shouldn’t be managed.
She said when she went to work at the Estacada station in 1989, it had 175 employees, and another station 26 miles away had 200 employees, plus seasonal help. But that station closed, and when she took a position at the Forest Service Region 6 office about 18 months ago, she left just 34 permanent employees behind her.
“Before the major cuts came in 2002, there were 13 people in the silviculture shop,” she said, but after those cuts, she was doing the job of “six or seven people.”
The increase in workload stifled her ability to be as thorough as she would have liked, “but at the end of the year, you have targets to meet,” she said.
Forest Service targets include reforestation, wildlife and fisheries projects – and timber sales.
According to its 2014 annual report, Mount Hood National Forest was able to fund numerous maintenance and restoration projects with money earned from selling commercial timber. Last year, timber cut from Mount Hood National Forest earned the Forest Service $2.2 million. In 2013, timber cut yielded $3.1 million.
“One thing we’re doing is trying to make sure the communities we serve have wood so people can work,” Goodwyne said. “It’s not always about money, but I’m not going to lie and say that it’s not, because that’s what we’re mandated to do, by law.”
But this reliance on timber sales to pad its budget, Bark argues, is causing the Forest Service to have a bias when it comes to restoration.
“To get the restoration benefits,” said Bark attorney Bell, “you pretty much always have to tie (restoration projects) to some timber revenue or timber output.”
After driving southeast from the ranger station on Highway 224, and then up a series of logging roads, we arrived at the Jazz Thin, or as Bark calls it, the “Jazz Timber Sale.”
Bark made headlines when it sued to stop this project in 2013. Bark lost, and now logging is underway.
We were about to explore one of the smallest units of the Jazz Thin. It’s about the size of two soccer fields, and is located within a section of forest that was clear-cut then uniformly replanted, creating a tree plantation. All the fir trees are mid-size, about 30 to 60 years old.
Each “unit” in a timber sale is an isolated section of forest, selected by Goodwyne, for logging. In Jazz, the units vary greatly in size, ranging from 1 to 65 acres. Each unit is surrounded by forest that will remain untouched, aside from roads running through to access scattered logging units.
“There’s 82 units in Jazz spread out over about 30 square miles,” Bell said. “The very nature of the sale makes it much harder to have eyes on the ground in every unit. Often it’s just the timber operators, who obviously have a profit motive. Even if the Forest Service has planned for this to have a restorative impact, the people that are logging them are coming from a different mindset.”
Nine of the 2,053 acres slated for thinning in Jazz are allocated for timber emphasis.
“Much of Jazz is within a reserve, either a riparian reserve or late successional reserve,” said Bark’s forest watch, Krochta.
We parked the white Forest Service Jeeps we arrived in and walked past a steel guardrail that Bark said should have been blocking the road. Our group speculated members of the public probably moved it aside, with ease, so they could access this part of the forest.
Before logging began, Bark photographed the roadway. It was closed in the 1990s and had become densely overgrown, with trees growing in its bed.
“The road was impassible,” Bell said. It had to be completely rebuilt for loggers to access the unit we were visiting, and now it opens the way for people to illegally access an area of forest that used to be closed off completely from human activity.
“People do everything up in these back roads,” Bell said. “Dumping, shooting, off-roading,” adding she’s seen people dump everything from TVs to mattresses.
Goodwyne said the Forest Service typically instructs timber companies to close roads with the same means with which they were closed before – in this case, the same steel guardrail that was placed there in the 1990s.
“We get guardrails taken out by the public every day,” Goodwyne said. “We have strong gates that are vandalized by the public every day. No matter what we do, it can be undone.”
We walked up the road to see what a recently thinned stand of trees looks like.
As our destination came into view, Bell was visibly distraught. It was her first time to the Jazz Thin since logging operations began.
The tree stand appeared more cleared than thinned. A few Douglas firs were sparsely scattered across the expanse. This area had been prescribed a moderate thin, meaning approximately 65 to 75 trees left standing on each acre.
This 2-acre unit was a short walk from four larger units – the largest was 51 acres – that had been thinned in a similar fashion.
Surrounded by dense, dark forest, this opening was flooded with sunlight. The ground was covered in logging slash – thick piles of brittle branches and brown pine needles – that covered nearly every inch of earth. The slash snapped, giving way beneath our feet as we hiked into the clearing.
A couple dozen cut and stripped tree trunks remained stacked by the landing, an area clear-cut to make room for logging trucks. In the Jazz Thin, landings account for 27 acres. These trees, I was told, had been abandoned.
Tractors had cut grooved patterns into the compacted soil throughout the seemingly post-apocalyptic scene.
“If you look at this stand,” Goodwyne said, “for the person who doesn’t know what they’re looking at, it can look like homemade sin – or it can look like something wonderful.”
She explained the remaining live trees would grow faster and with greater girth now that they had less competition. Additionally, with the arrival of sunlight into this tightly packed area of forest would come new plant species to offer a diversity often lacking in tree plantations where Douglas and noble fir were the primary species replanted.
“The pioneer species will come, the bracken fern will come, because that’s what this was created for. Not to create snags and downed wood – we’ve got it here, we’ve got it over there,” Goodwyne said, pointing to areas of forest beyond the perimeter of the thin. “When I come in to do a prescription, I look at everything around it, too – otherwise, you just cut willy-nilly.”
Three of the trees left standing had visible scarring. Scars are places on the tree trunk where sections of bark were ripped away during logging operations.
“When people think of logging,” Bell said, “they think of a guy with a chainsaw in the forest. That’s not how it happens in many places. You have a tractor coming in here; that’s what’s banged into the trees.”
Goodwyne pointed to one of the scarred trees.
“See the scar on that tree? I come out, and I’m driving by, and if I see a lot of scarring – I see gouges in trees – well that’s not exactly what I want to happen, so I immediately pull over, and I talk to the operator,” she said.
Goodwyne said the tree in question will “grow into a beautiful tree.” She said it had already compartmentalized the scar, sealing it off. “If it’s at the base and it’s gouged in, we’re going to have problems.”
I pointed to a remote tree, rooted nearby. It was scarred at the base and gouged in. “What about the scar on that tree?” I asked.
We walked over for closer look.
“When you have a small canopy on a tree and you do this,” Goodwyne said, pointing up the trunk to the crown of the fir, “nine times out of 10, you’re going to lose that tree. This tree right here? No problem.”
The gouge cut through the bark and into several layers of trunk, but Goodwyne said it wasn’t so deep the tree wouldn’t survive. But, she said, it won’t grow as quickly now that it’s been damaged.
“That’s slightly ironic,” Bell said, “because the whole point of some of this is to grow bigger trees.”
Goodwyne replied: “Exactly. I don’t come out here and prescribe these treatments for nothing.
“This is a leave tree – you want it to be healthy.”
Best management practices neglected
In many cases, cutting down trees is not Bark’s biggest concern.
Building roads, impacts of heavy machinery, and the repeated failure of timber companies to follow best management practices put in place to safeguard the environment are issues often cited in Bark’s objections.
The timber giant contracted to log in the Jazz Thin, Canadian-based Interfor, failed to follow best management practices multiple times, as documented by both Bark and the Forest Service.
In 2012, under the Freedom of Information Act, Bark requested the results of the Forest Service’s previous five years of best management practices monitoring. Bark’s staff, expecting a mountain of documents, was surprised when it received monitoring reports on just four units in two timber sales, all contracted Interfor.
Three of those four reports showed best management practices were not followed properly.
Groce, the Forest Service ranger, said, “There are a whole host of monitoring practices and efforts that occur, but they are not necessarily consolidated.”
Bell said this creates a lack of transparency in the agency’s monitoring.
Krochta reminded the group of an incident two years ago, when an Estacada-based company, Jon Greenup Logging, failed to get required permission from the Forest Service before logging, nearby, in the rain. Wet conditions make soil especially susceptible to erosion and ruts.
RELATED ARTICLE: Emails show timber company knew Forest Service rules but broke them
Goodwyne said if she sees timber companies breaking the rules when she’s out in the field, she notifies the Forest Service sale administrator overseeing the contract. But, she said, “we don’t have enough sale administrators to go around.”
The three sale administrators who work in Mount Hood National Forest oversee anywhere from one to six timber sales during logging season, spending two to three days a week out in the field.
“It’s one of the major reasons we (Bark and the Forest Service) have differences of opinion. Because we don’t have enough people to meet all those criteria that need to be met,” Goodwyne said.
“We have all these people on the land, all these people on the trucks, all these people bringing logs to the landing, and you’ve got a sale administrator that’s probably tied to one sale that’s maybe 1,800 acres, and they’ve got to get to all these places.”
Bell said that once it discovered the Forest Service didn’t have the capacity to conduct thorough monitoring, Bark stepped in.
Since 2011, about 90 Bark volunteers have spent more than 1,000 hours conducting post-logging monitoring.
Bell said Bark has documented logging operators taking logs they weren’t supposed to; running machines up slopes designated as too steep, increasing chances of erosion and accidents; and logging too close to riparian features.
But once a sale administrator signs off on a contract, the timber company is off the hook.
When loggers are caught breaking rules while the contract is still active, the Forest Service can shut them down for a few days, or terminate the contract. Fines are not issued, but the timber company may be charged for damages, such as a stumpage fee for scarred trees.
“We do have excellent operators, as well,” Goodwyne said. “I can take you to places where there are no nicks and things are well cared for, but other operators, especially when you get new operators – wow. You have to be behind them like children.”
Pros and cons of thinning
The trees in the unit of Jazz we visited were removed to bring in light. In some cases, Goodwyne prescribes thinning when changes in composition – more snags or downed wood – or variance tree size and structure are needed for the forest’s health.
Bark agreed these desired results from thinning are important, but Bell said it’s proved that forests will get there naturally and damage caused by logging isn’t worth it.
“In the Jazz Environmental Assessment, it says the likelihood of invasive species moving into the area is high,” Bell said, “and the project still moves forward. And the roads create a disturbed area with light, which is what a lot of the invasives love.”
Invasive species, such as bull thistle and in some areas, infamously suffocating English ivy, have taken root along logging roads, Bell said. The seeds travel in with loggers and the public, often hiding in wheel wells. For this reason, logging equipment is washed before coming into a new area, but the Forest Service admits those precautions aren’t always effective.
Additionally, Bell said soil compacted from road building can take a long time to revegetate, and when a road and stream cross paths, sediment from the road pollutes the stream, which can affect the health and nature of the watershed and, in some cases, salmon spawning.
The Jazz Thin is located in the Clackamas Watershed, which feeds the Clackamas River – a drinking water source to more than 200,000 people in Clackamas County.
“I’m a firm believer in the ability of trees to self-manage,” Bell said. “There were a lot of mistakes made by clear-cutting. I don’t think the same agency that made the mistakes is the best one to trust in recalibrating that.”
Bell said the disruption logging brings to the wilderness can often outweigh any benefits from restoration or timber sales. Especially in riparian reserves and critical habitat – which was where we were headed next.
Entering the Grove Thin
The Grove Thin is still in the bidding process, so logging won’t start until 2016 or later. The Forest Service estimates the project will create or maintain about 116 jobs in the local economy – from logging and mills to road building and maintenance.
Bark did not object to the Grove Thin outright but did object to several units where logging would take place in riparian reserves and critical habitat for old-growth-dependent species.
Also objecting to this sale was American Forest Resource Council, which represents logging interests. While Bark argued against heavy thinning in critical habitat, AFRC argued a greater volume of logging was needed to meet the Forest Service’s restoration goals.
The Forest Service dropped 120 acres of spotted-owl habitat from heavy thinning to moderate thinning – a small victory for Bark.
We arrived at a 69-acre plot of the 1,756-acre Grove Thin, which is broken up into more than 100 isolated units. An overgrown logging road served as our pathway into the forest. The logging operator that wins the contract will rebuild it.
This patch of forest appeared more diverse than the stands of trees surrounding the clearing in Jazz we had just visited. Trees weren’t as tightly packed together; there were more deciduous trees, and patches of light shone through in scattered openings. Vine maple was everywhere, serving as the understory.
While Jazz had only 9 acres of timber-emphasis land, Grove contains 192.
“It wouldn’t be illegal to come in here and clear-cut,” Bell said. “The Forest Service (in Mount Hood National Forest) isn’t doing it right now, but it could be. And it is in other parts of Oregon. I know there are discussions within Mount Hood National Forest about doing it again.”
What she’s referring to is called “regeneration harvest,” and Goodwyne agreed this method can equate to clear-cutting.
Notes from a June 9 Clackamas Stewardship Partners collaborative meeting indicate there are discussions about clear-cutting a 90-acre plot in the Upper Clackamas Watershed. That’s an area about the size of 68 football fields.
Goodwyne said she couldn’t prescribe regeneration harvest without good rationale.
“The area has to be ready for clear-cutting, and that means that these trees need to have culminated; they’re not growing anymore. These aren’t ready,” she said, surveying the scenery. “These are still young, growing, thriving stands.”
There are 15 additional thinning projects – recent, current or planned – within the 138-square-mile expanse containing the Grove Thin, which encompasses approximately 70 square miles. Those projects account for more than 2,000 acres that will also be logged, and Bark is worried about the cumulative effects.
The Forest Service found the combination of projects will have a “relatively minor impact on the spotted owl.” But Bark isn’t convinced. In its objection, Bark said effects the Forest Service calls temporary are actually long term because if left alone, the forest would transform into habitat suitable for owl nesting, roosting and foraging over the next 50 to 60 years. Now, it’s believed owls merely pass through this area.
But no thorough survey of the spotted owl has been conducted in the Mount Hood National Forest in more than 20 years.
“These are stark assumptions,” according to Bark’s objection, “and the Forest Service should be more upfront about their lack of data.”
But Goodwyne said a Forest Service biologist surveys for spotted owls and other threatened species in areas where logging is planned.
In addition to being within critical habitat, Bark had several other reasons for objecting to logging in the grove we were hiking through.
For one, Krochta said, “this is an area Barkers have gone on numerous hikes, held trainings, and have a personal connection to how it is.”
From an ecological standpoint, he said Bark was concerned because a third of the project area was also in riparian reserves.
“We thin in riparian reserves all the time,” Goodwyne said, “and one of the reasons we do is because that’s where some of your uplands lie, and that’s where trees are thick. We’re trying to open them up and trying to offer a little more light in there to get different species in.”
Krochta said Bark values that sentiment, but it’s against the rules.
“A lot of scientists that have worked on the Northwest Forest Plan, and in writing the ACS (Aquatic Conservation Study), say there’s way too much logging in riparian reserves these days.”
These guidelines, Krochta said, were “not written to allow commercial logging in riparian reserves,” and, he added, there are other factors to consider that are either “equally important if not more important for the majority of species that use those aquatic areas.”
Additionally, Bark points out that thinning in riparian reserves allows sunlight to warm the waters flowing through the watershed – and in Oregon, rising waterway temperatures were a sizeable concern this summer.
In this section of the Grove Thin, Unit 180, Krochta explained Bark didn’t see a need for thinning because “there was enough structural diversity, natural gaps and plant diversity in areas.”
Goodwyne said the woodland we were perusing would be moderately thinned, slightly lighter than the degree of thinning we had just seen at Jazz, although many parts of the Grove Thin will be more heavily thinned, with about 40 trees per acre left standing.
“When I walk through this area,” Goodwyne said as our hike took us along the base of a gentle slope, “there are a lot of little riparian areas throughout this whole stand. There are hummocks (forested ground above a marsh), flat areas, steeper areas; this particular stand offers a lot in the way of management. Because this area has all these different things going on, I thin lighter.”
She said we walked through critical habitat when we entered the unit, but where we stood now was not.
“This is an area where we would extract trees to benefit the others. Case in point – you’re standing here and you see the larger Doug fir in the middle ground, back there? Beautiful tree! Step to the side; look at this guy right here – that might be a tree we wouldn’t keep,” she said, noting its thinning crown and yellowish hue. “Immediately, you can tell something is going on in here. One of the first things I look for is root rot, and I know it’s in here.”
As we continued walking along the pathway, we ducked beneath fallen trees and swatted branches aside. Black bear and deer droppings were observed, and we could hear chattering and chirping as forest critters rustled through the thicket.
“Did you see the little guy?” Goodwyne said when a ground squirrel scurried across our path. “He’s got a log that he lives under, and that’s the beauty of having downed wood in a place.”
Bark said logging leaves the forest with fewer downed trees because they are cut and removed, rather than left to be choked out by competition, which would lay them to rest naturally.
Goodwyne said that if it weren’t for profit motives, there are places where “drop and leave would be fantastic,” meaning the tree would be cut and then left in the forest for animals to inhabit. But the tools she uses depend on the objective: to produce lumber or to rehabilitate the forest?
As we followed along the road, Goodwyne pointed out the trees lining it were large and had greater girth because they had more light and less competition.
“We say we’re thinning from below. The taller, larger trees stay; we thin the trees below that position,” she said, motioning with her hands that the shorter trees get cut. The taller trees, she said, have a better chance of increasing their width, and they provide structure and canopy, so they remain standing.
In this unit, she prescribed several 5-acre gaps – or “mini-clear-cuts,” Bell said. These areas serve as meadows where animals such as deer and elk can graze, and they’re another point of disagreement among the members of our party.
Bell argues that if the Forest Service didn’t suppress wildfire, those forage clearings would be created naturally when fires burn through.
Goodwyne said Mount Hood forest is too close to population centers to let fires burn, and there aren’t that many fires; the west side of the Cascades isn’t dry like on the east side, where the Forest Service thins to reduce fire fuel.
Goodwyne said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service often accompanies her into project areas and advises her on the forest’s foraging needs.
“The only reason any gap is 5 to 7 acres in size,” she said, is “because they’re telling me that’s what we need for forage openings, for species needing forage, because we don’t clear-cut anymore.”
“Elk don’t depend on clear-cuts,” Bell said. “That’s not the natural way of things.”
When considering a foraging meadow, Goodwyne looks to plant life already growing in the area to provide clues about what species will pop up when an area is cleared of trees. She said the presence of trailing blackberry and other favorite foods of large mammals indicate good placement. She also positions foraging areas close to heavy hiding cover and water – places the animals already frequent, she said.
But she said it’s important that operators avoid sensitive areas.
“When I was in here and I saw all the riparian areas, and the hummocks, and the seeps – there are areas that I said, ‘Stay clear of these,’ and that was in my notes, and hopefully they did put some kind of buffer around many of them.”
To this, Krochta responded that we should head up the road a little farther. There was something he wanted the group to see.
As we walked around a bend in the road, we stepped in mud, although it hadn’t rained for weeks.
We were standing in what’s called a seep – an area with a high water table, where water flows just below ground and is visible when an impression is made in the earth above it. Sometimes you can even hear the water running, Goodwyne said. Many animals living in the forest use seeps as a water source, and seeps provide habitat for aquatic vegetation. Here we see several thriving skunk cabbages.
This seep is wide, and it’s crossing the road. This poses a problem because the forest plan dictates logging must achieve conservation objectives, which include healthy watersheds.
Krochta said he doesn’t see how building a road over this seep and cutting down the trees providing cooling shade will “keep the natural hydrology of the area intact.”
Goodwyne responded: “I prescribed this. I’ll take the brunt. I’ll take the hit – but this right here is where that water really starts; that’s why I told them to stay on this side, over there,” she said, pointing behind us.
“Will the road building not come up this far? Because building a road across this would obviously have a huge impact,” Bell said.
“Brenna,” Goodwyne told Bell, “I’m not going to lie to you, and I’m not going to say they’re not coming this far. Unless they’re building a temporary bridge here, this is not a good place to come.”
The contract indicates a French drain will be installed, not a bridge, Krochta said. That means a pipe will be laid beneath the road, but it’s unlikely it would be wide enough for all the water to pass through.
Bell said this would lead to a washout. Bark has documented washouts under similar circumstances.
“It’s one of the reasons we asked this unit be dropped specifically,” Bell said.
Goodwyne didn’t make excuses.
“I do hear you guys. I really do,” she said, adding that if she and Bark had examined the site together during the planning process, the outcome might have been different. She said the site needed a thinning treatment, but she might have drawn the unit’s boundary differently. “There’s no telling,” she said.
Bell said concerns about the seep were outlined in Bark’s comments on the project, but Goodwyne said actually seeing it in the field makes a difference.
Ultimately, what Bark wants, Bell told Goodwyne and Groce, is for the forest plan to be followed.
“On Grove, there were forest plan exemptions. On Jazz, there were forest plan exemptions. We actually would like to see you follow the standards and guidelines and to not exempt yourself from them.”
A collaborative process
In a tone of sincerity, Goodwyne said, “Coming out and doing this, and hearing this and seeing this, seriously, is what we really need to be working on together.
“If we didn’t have you guys,” she said, looking at the Barkers, Bell and Krochta, “it’d be business as usual. We’d just keep on doing whatever we do – knowing that there are standards, but still.
“I can’t say that we shouldn’t be slapped on the hands. I can’t say that sometimes we shouldn’t put you guys in a room away from us,” she said, eliciting laughter from everyone. “That’s the nature of the beast. But I do truly believe in what we’re trying to do together.”
Bell and Krochta said they are eager to work with the Forest Service – even help it monitor with volunteers they already have out in the field.
But Goodwyne works at the Region 6 office now, and one of the primary Forest Service employees they communicate with at Clackamas District sports a baseball cap that reads, “More wag, less bark.”
Krochta said Bark had a positive relationship with forest supervisor Gary Larsen, who’s since left the station, but now all Bark hears is that the Forest Service isn’t interested in what it has to say.
“Which is why we end up litigating,” he said.
And what about the collaborative group process that was supposed to get all of a forest’s stakeholders on the same page with these projects in the first place? Krochta said Bark disagreed with the Clackamas Stewardship Partners on both Grove and Jazz, but the majority wins, negating any attempt to reach a true consensus.
“They do a lot of green lighting, and the facilitation doesn’t necessarily allow a lot of collaboration other than sort of giving a thumbs up or down,” he said.
Goodwyne said she would like to see more members of the community engage with the Forest Service during the planning process.
“Look at the demographic here – Portland is so huge – who’s coming out? Who really cares? Who really engages with us? Until it’s objection time? We need to have dialogue before that.”
In the meantime, she told Krochta to keep standing his ground, like she does.
“I’m being pulled in both directions – you have no idea how much Interfor and all the other companies jump down my throat for not thinning everything, and thinning heavier and all of that,” she said. “I just look at them like I look at everyone else.
“I believe in what I’ve been doing, and that’s why I can sleep at night.”
Get involved: Collaborative groups are open to the public
There are two collaborative groups advising the U.S. Forest Service on restoration projects in Mount Hood National Forest’s west side. In summer months, these groups go on field trips with the Forest Service to look at sites under proposal.
Robert Roth, facilitator of the Clackamas Stewardship Partners, recommends those interested in joining a collaborative should research beforehand to learn about Forest Service restoration and determine the values and priorities for forest management they would like to bring to the group.
Clackamas Stewardship Partners
Next meeting: 2 p.m. Nov. 3
Mount Scott Fire Station
9339 SE Causey Ave.
Happy Valley, OR 97086
For more information, email Robert Roth at email@example.com
Hood River Collaborative Stewardship Crew
Meets at various locations in Hood River.
No meeting is scheduled.
For more information or to sign up to receive updates, email Cindy Thieman at firstname.lastname@example.org