We have been monitoring the 5,200+ acre Grasshopper Timber Sale project plan in Mt. Hood National Forest since its announcement in 2019. This area contains designated Critical Habitat for northern spotted owls, a National Recreation Area (around the popular Boulder Lake), and reserves meant for the conservation of old growth-dependent species. Earlier this month, the Forest Service published a Draft Decision Notice and Finding of No Significant Impact for the Grasshopper Timber Sale despite Bark volunteers’ identification of several wet meadow areas as inappropriate for commercial timber production. Wet meadows, seeps, and riparian areas are highly susceptible to soil compaction from heavy machinery, leading to long-term damage and increased sediment runoff, which, over time, will have a harmful impact on water quality downstream.
Mia Pisano, a long-time Bark volunteer, has been collecting information in sensitive meadow habitats and has stayed active in the public engagement process for the Grasshopper timber sale for the past 3 years. Pisano explains, “High on the east side of Mt Hood, nestled downhill of Boulder Lake and directly above Boulder Creek, units 260 and 56 flow with water in late summer. I first visited these meadows in the summer of 2019 and provided photos, maps, and detailed descriptions to the Forest Service at every stage of the timber sale planning process. And yet, in the Decision Notice released on September 1, these units, located at the far end of a rough gravel road, are [still] designated for commercial logging.”
Since 2019, over 50 Bark volunteers have visited the Grasshopper planning area and compiled extensive field notes which Bark has used to provide conservation recommendations to the Forest Service. Through the ongoing support of these volunteers, we’ve been able to identify unmapped sensitive habitat throughout the planning area and make informed recommendations to protect these areas. There are many opportunities this fall to groundtruth other areas for protection around Mt. Hood. While some sensitive areas have been dropped from the Grasshopper project, we’re continuing to push to protect as many of these wet meadows and sensitive habitat areas from commercial timber harvest as possible.