We understand that Bark’s dedication to the stolen lands referred to now as the “public lands of Mt. Hood National Forest” carries with it a sobering paradox which continues to be ignored by most traditional conservation groups and which continues to harm Indigenous people.
As an organization founded by white Americans in the lineage of settler-colonial environmentalism in the U.S., Bark recognizes and is accountable to the context that environmental conservation work is embedded in the white supremacist legacy of colonization which relies on land theft, cultural erasure and genocide, and the systemic use of law to suppress Native sovereignty. In our advocacy and policy work, Bark’s interactions with federal agencies often uphold the authority assumed by the U.S. federal government. This “authority” was itself created through legal fictions that justified the displacement and genocide of Indigenous people and cultures, including the Congressional actions that formed “public lands”. These crimes and injustices have not been reconciled nor rectified. Today, all non-Indigenous people have the privilege of access to these “public lands” as a direct result of hundreds of years of legalized, white settler-colonial supremacy.
Bark recognizes that conservation organizations are complicit in the ongoing displacement of Native people and culture each time non-Indigenous people claim for themselves the benefits of accessing stolen land and the virtue of protecting it. We are dedicated to reconciling this injustice through transformational actions within the organization and throughout the conservation community. There is much work to do to repair relationships between settlers and Indigenous people, and settlers and the land—acknowledgement is only the necessary first step in this revolutionary, cultural work.
Bark affirms that these are the rightful homelands of the Multnomah, Molalla, Kalapuya, Chinook, Clackamas, Tyh, Tenino, Wasco, Wishram, Paiute, and the many other Native people who live here and who have always lived here, who have always belonged to and cared for this land and whose bold resistance to colonial oppression should guide us all.
Origins of Bark
In 1993, attorney Greg Dyson and musician John Rancher, envisioned a call to action after witnessing vast clear-cuts and old-growth logging while exploring Mt. Hood National Forest. They began to hike each timber sale, closely observing the forest and then calling attention to discrepancies between the ecological conditions they saw and the Forest Service’s approach to managing the area. This work, called groundtruthing, is widely used around the world to as an effective tool to create evidence by collecting easily observable facts about operations that might be illegal, prohibited or causing harm. The evidence can be used in complaints directed to the relevant regulatory authority or judicial body. This method is useful for one-time investigations or the ongoing monitoring of commercial timber sale on so called “public lands”.
Recognizing the need for a public organization that could bring the motivations and actions of the Forest Service to light, they organized knowledgeable professionals and passionate activists to form Bark in 1999. Over the past 21 years, Bark has served as the public resource for community action to protect Mt. Hood National Forest and surrounding federal lands.
Bark’s mission is to transform Mt. Hood National Forest into a place where natural processes prevail, where wildlife thrives and where local communities have a social, cultural, and economic investment in its restoration and preservation.
We prioritize connection to place and believe in the transformative power of people who are directly engaged in the issues that affect their lives. We recognize that our communities rely on a thriving and diverse ecosystem. It is our responsibility to build reciprocity into our interactions and relationships with the land we live on. We strive for an organizational culture that is transparent, inclusive, and cooperative, where volunteers, staff and board work together to realize the vision of Bark.