Hole in the Road Timber Sale

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has dropped a total of 206 acres of logging from the Hole in the Road Timber Sale (HITR), surrounding the Upper Molalla River about 20 miles southeast of the City of Molalla.

After starting with a 440 acre timber sale proposal in 2015, the BLM subsequently cancelled several units groundtruthed by Bark volunteers from the original proposal, with a total of 352 acres remaining for the public to comment on in 2016.  Bark was pleased that the agency removed from consideration several areas which we presented concerns about in our initial scoping comments.

Bark’s concerns with this project included logging in designated Riparian Reserves, impacts to mature forests containing old-growth trees, degradation of wildlife habitat including that for sensitive red tree voles, and impacts on water and soils from roadbuilding and increased access for off-highway vehicles (OHVs).

The BLM removed all Late Successional Reserves from the HITR project, which are meant to be managed to eventually become old-growth forest. The agency dropped other areas “for a variety of reasons such as wildlife protection, logging problems, low stocking, steep terrain, or stream protection.”

In January of 2018, the BLM released a Draft Decision for HITR, and in doing so removed an additional 118 acres of logging from the proposal. Below is a summary of changes made to the project:

Riparian Reserves

  • The BLM dropped all but 4 of the 25 acres of Riparian Reserves originally proposed for logging, where they are committing to maintain a 50% canopy cover in the remaining 42 year old stand.

Roads

  • The BLM dropped 0.63 mi of new roadbuilding , with 0.81 remaining in 2018. However they also dropped 1.13 miles of road closure/decommissioning, with 2.82 remaining.
  • After hearing from Bark, the BLM acknowledged that some of the roads they labeled as “existing”  with access to units were labled in error, and changed the labeling to "renovation/un-drivable".

Suitable Wild and Scenic Molalla River

  • Under a Wild and Scenic designation, there are “Wild”, “Scenic” and “Recreational” values of rivers which each earn different protections from Congress. The upper Molalla did not earn the “Wild” value, meaning that commercial logging is allowed under some circumstances.
  • BLM dropped 29 of 62 acres within the river corridor, leaving 33 acres of young plantations
  • BLM dropped nearly all stands which are “visible” from the Molalla River
  • There are no Riparian Reserves proposed along the river corridor
  • An average canopy closure of 60 percent will be left behind in units within the corridor

OHVs

  • The BLM says they’ve adopted very similar project design measures as our recommendations to reduce impacts from OHVs.

Spotted Owls

  • The BLM’s consultation with USFWS concluded that the sale “may affect, and is not likely to adversely affect the spotted owl, as the project is expected to maintain the current functionality of the spotted owl habitat after treatment” by maintaining 60% canopy cover in all suitable habitat.
  • 135 remaining acres of proposed logging are in stands considered suitable habitat for spotted owls (15A,15B, 22A, 22C, 22D and 27B)  but "will remain suitable habitat after thinning" according to the BLM, since 60% canopy cover will be retained.
  • There is “No Incidental take” predicted - “Take” is defined by the ESA as harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect any threatened or endangered species
  • While there are still owl surveys that need to be completed, the proposed action was designed to treat all the known owl sites the same whether they are viable are not

Logging systems and general stand conditions

  • The BLM has adopted Bark's original recommendation to “thin from below” (meaning focusing on only taking out smaller trees and keeping the biggest ones in all units).
  • 155 remaining acres of proposed logging are in stands over 80 years old (Units 15A, 15B, 22A, 22B, 22C, 22D and 27B). 
  • Although the BLM originally planned to implement 1- 2 "low density thinning (LDT) openings" (up to 2.5 acres each retaining 18-20 trees per acre), they removed these openings from the Draft Decision in 2018.

Please contact michael@bark-out.org if you are interested in learning more about this or other timber sales surrounding Mt. Hood.

Project Status: 
Proposed
General Information
District: 
BLM Salem District - Cascades Resource Area
Total Acres: 
234.0
Watershed: 

Upper Molalla River Watershed

Prescriptions
Total Acres: 
234.0
"Purpose & Need": 

"Manage timber stands to produce a sustainable supply of timber to provide jobs and contribute to community stability; provide a variety of habitat and other ecological functions; and to provide early successional habitat."

"Restore and maintain the ecological health of watersheds and aquatic ecosystems and provide habitat for terrestrial species."

"Protect and enhance conditions of late-successional and old-growth forest ecosystems."

Temporary Road Miles: 
0.8
Road Comments: 

"Related activities being considered are...renovating existing roads and/or constructing new roads to provide access for logging, decommissioning or closing and stabilizing roads after logging, maintaining roads, improving or replacing culverts" -- Hole in the Road scoping letter