I want to tell you a story. In two weeks it will be two years since I joined Bark’s staff as Community Organizer. In those two years I have learned so much about this community, our movement, and what it means to be truly dedicated to a place. But I won’t tell that story today. I want to tell you the story of the next two years. A story about the future of Mt. Hood.
In the next two years the Forest Service may liquidate our National Forests under the guise of “forest health”. Changing snowpack and summer stream temperatures and flows may cripple salmon recovery and strain drinking water resources. Mt. Hood’s remaining glaciers may recede below 60% of their historic volume, or more. Short-sighted fire policy may hit forests while they’re down, actually making them less fire resilient. A volatile combination of politically-empowered extraction interests and a warming climate could severely impact the forest and the lives of everything and everyone who lives here.
We can leverage the depth and breadth of this community to protect this forest against all threats. We can demand that at our decision-makers at every level push back on the extractive projects that destroy ecosystems to profit off public lands. We can match every proposed timber sale with our boots on the ground, ten-to-one. We can build a future where the communities around Mt. Hood are deeply invested in the restoration of the natural processes we rely on. We can envision the future we want for this forest and we can fight for it. We can get a lot done in two years, and we can win.
What a great story, right? The thing is, it will take you, me, and everyone we know to make it come true.
Communities all around the forest are united by the waters of Mt. Hood. Every day the forest collects, filters, and delivers clean drinking water to over one million people from The Dalles to Warm Springs to Portland. We have to protect this water.
This forest is protecting us as well. The moist, temperate, coniferous forest biome which we cherish for the sense of joy, peace, well-being, and adventure it offers is also one of the most significant carbon sinks in the country, adding tens of thousands of metric tons of carbon to soil and tree stores each year.
The community that cares about this forest is bigger than you think. Four million people visit Mt. Hood every year because it is special. Once they arrive, they climb, swim, bike, hike, fish, watch, listen, taste and smell their way toward a revitalizing connection with the forest and the loved ones they share their experiences with.
On April 15th, 2017, Bark will host the People’s Forest Forum for the Future of Mt. Hood to bring people together to envision a better future for the forest. With guidance from experienced forest defenders, ecologists, lawyers, recreation leaders, and advocates we will discuss:
• How climate change will impact Mt. Hood,
• How different communities can create power and be influential in decision-making, and
• How forest policies need to change to protect clean water, mature forests and quiet recreation, and how to design projects that permanently protect carbon stores and drinking watersheds in a future management plan.
See you at the Forum!
Courtney Rae, Bark Community Organizer