Good News for the Clackamas River

Bark is working to remove old logging roads that are ruining Mt. Hood’s rivers and you can help.Heavy rainfall on forest road

By Russ Plaeger, Restoration Coordinator

Sediment and pollution from roads can run off into streams and smother trout and salmon eggs. Roads impact water quality, wildlife migration and habitat, introduce invasive plants, and concentrate water surface flows that increase erosion.

For years Bark has pushed the Forest Service to remove, or decommission, more roads but the Forest Service doesn’t have enough money to maintain them, let alone decommission them. So when we heard that Portland General Electric (PGE) set up a fund, as required to mitigate for the impact of its dams on the Clackamas River, we got excited about the possibilities.

What if Bark wrote a grant proposal and secured funding to pay for restoration that the Forest Service wants to do but doesn’t have money for? It could be good for the forest, salmon, and everyone involved; Wow! That’s exactly what’s happening and we’re excited to tell you about our project.

A few years ago Bark volunteers identified some roads in the Stone Creek area of the Clackamas River watershed that threatened water quality and weren’t needed for recreation access. Our input to the Travel Analysis Process requested that they be decommissioned. I went to the Forest Service’s fisheries biologist on the Clackamas River ranger district to find out if he thought they needed to be removed; the answer was yes, and that gave us a green light to write a grant proposal.

Four of the roads are in the Stone Creek area near Timothy Lake and one is at Big Bottom next to the Clackamas River. This means the project will ensure clean, cold water for Coho and Chinook salmon, cutthroat trout and other aquatic species.

The Forest Service will contract with a local company to remove the roads, which means that we are creating jobs this summer for heavy equipment operators. Forest habitat gets restored, water quality is protected, and people get hired; Yahoo! It doesn’t get much better than that.

Barkers are glad that Jackie Groce, the Forest Service’s Clackamas District Ranger, decided to partner with us on this project. While we disagree with the Forest Service’s priority of logging our public forests, we agree that this work is needed to restore the Clackamas River.

But wait, there’s more! You can be part of the project if you want to. This October and November we’ll need volunteers to help us plant more than 500 native trees and shrubs on the roads that we’re decommissioning. RSVP to me at russ@bark-out.org to sign up.

P.S. Have you heard the buzz lately? This summer Bark will be partnering with the Forest Service to gather seed from native plants to use in restoration projects which benefit our critically important pollinator species – the bees, birds, butterflies, bats and more! To learn more about this work, please come to our second Sunday Bark About hike in July and Ecology Club the following night!