Proposed Logging on Mt. Hood Will Affect the Future of Cooper Spur

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 26, 2016

Contact: Michael Krochta (michael@bark-out.org)
Phone: (503) 331-0374

Public Meeting: Wed, February 10th, Hood River Fire Station

Today, the Mt. Hood National Forest released a draft Environmental Assessment (EA) for the Polallie Cooper Timber Sale, a controversial logging project proposed in the Cooper Spur area on Mt. Hood’s north slope. The Forest Service has scheduled a public meeting to address this disputed project on Wednesday, February 10 from 5-7pm at the Hood River Fire Station at 1785 Meyer Pkwy in Hood River. Bark and other concerned groups are anticipating a large turnout.

Originally proposed in 1997, the Polallie Cooper Timber Sale was then cancelled in 2005 after opposition from a coalition of conservation, recreation and local resident groups. In 2002, the groups filed a lawsuit citing impacts on the riparian area and the lack of science behind claims that logging would reduce the risk from fire to nearby homes. The project was cancelled by the Forest Service before the lawsuit was resolved. Since the original cancellation of Polallie Cooper, the area has seen considerable changes, including increased trail use and forest resilience from the effects of climate change.

The newly re-packaged “Polallie Cooper II” project now encompasses the Wild and Scenic East Fork Hood River corridor, unlogged forest contiguous with surrounding Wilderness areas, the Cooper Spur winter sports region, and the Crystal Springs drinking water aquifer (a municipal watershed for Hood River County). Popular hiking and biking trails like the Dog River trail, Zigzag trail, Tamanawas Falls trail, and Surveyor’s Ridge trail weave through this area of the forest, and would be impacted by nearly 3,000 acres of logging and 12 miles of roadbuilding.

The groups that challenged the original Polallie Cooper Timber Sale were surprised by the renewed effort to log, including the Hood River Valley Residents Committee, Bark, Oregon Wild, and the Cooper Spur Wild and Free Coalition (members include the Oregon Chapter of the Sierra Club, Friends of Mt. Hood, Mazamas, Audubon Society of Portland, Northwest Environmental Defense Center, Oregon Nordic Club, and Friends of Tilly Jane). Most recently the area has been highlighted in the crosshairs of a languishing land exchange that has prevented a massive ski resort development from being built. The land exchange was another effort by the coalition to ensure the forests remained standing for future generations.

“This proposal includes destructive logging in beloved unlogged forests. Hikers and mountain bikers come from all over to witness this breathtaking area and that’s good for the community.” said Amy Harwood, Executive Director at Bark. Harwood has been deeply connected to this area since she led her first public hike to the timber sale as a Bark volunteer in 2003. Over the past year, Bark has collected thousands of signed letters from supporters requesting that the Forest Service drop the project.

The Cooper Spur Wild and Free Coalition initial comments on this iteration of the proposal concluded with the following request: “… the Forest Service should halt work on this project right now, and sit down with leaders from the conservation community who worked for so many years to protect the North side for present and future generations to provide a framework for moving forward.”

One impact that the Forest Service did not consider in their original proposal, defeated over a decade ago, is how commercial logging in this area could intensify the known effects of climate change. “The obvious shrinking of the nearby Eliot Glacier is a clear indicator of how climate change is currently affecting Mt. Hood,” said Harwood. Using past agency data from other recent proposals, Bark estimated that logging in the Polallie Cooper Timber Sale could emit thousands of metric tons of carbon into the atmosphere, exacerbating current trends.

“Bark is a unique organization in that we always get volunteers in the forest to walk these timber sale projects, and we build our case through what we find there,” said Harwood, “We’re adding many years of knowledge and experience to the upcoming public meeting.”

The public can submit comments on this project through February 24, 2016 by writing to Janeen Tervo, Hood River Ranger District, 6780 Highway 35, Mt. Hood/Parkdale, OR 97041 or by email to comments-pacificnorthwest-mthood-hoodriver@fs.fed.us