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In October 2014, Mt. Hood National Forest officially launched its Travel Analysis Process (TAP). In December of the following year, the agency released it's conclusion to this process, the Travel Analysis Report (TAR). This report outlines existing the road system and identify opportunities to achieve a "more sustainable system of roads," as defined by the Forest Service. This travel analysis report is part of nationwide requirement involving national forests across the country, but it is questionable how strictly the recommendations in this report will be followed. Read more about Bark's response to the report here.
The report is not a decision document—instead, it provides a non-binding analysis of where the existing road system is today. All future road-related projects will involve more opportunities for public input and engagement. Additional documents and information relating to this process are available here.
What is the Travel Analysis Process (TAP)?
The TAP is a nationwide project of the U.S. Forest Service to analyze the road networks in each of our public forests. The point of TAP is to determine what roads are needed for access in our forests, and which roads can be removed. The TAP is not only open to public participation — it requires widespread public input if it is to be successful in correcting the ecological and economic harm currently being wrought by the overblown road system in our National Forests.
If you only had the budget to maintain 15.8% of the roads in Mt. Hood, which ones would you keep?
This is exactly what the Mt. Hood Forest Service is asking itself as it launches its TAP. Do we keep the roads people need for recreation in the forest? Or do we keep as many old logging roads as possible so the timber industry can mow down trees whenever they please?
It’s up to us to provide the answer. The time has come to shift priorities in Mt. Hood and remove unneeded & ecologically damaging logging roads for good.
Why remove roads?
It may seem counter intuitive, but less roads means more access to recreation areas. How so? Because the Forest Service has a limited budget for road maintenance. When total road miles exceed the maintenance budget, roads deteriorate, making access more difficult and in some cases impossible. By removing roads that are not needed for public access, such as old logging roads, the road maintenance budget can be focused to greater effect upon roads used most by forest visitors. Local economies Recreation generates five times as much revenue as the timber industry. And yet the Forest Service spends nearly twice as much on logging as it does on recreation. The Forest Service needs to get with the times. Modern forest jobs increasingly exist in harmony with the environment, and promote peaceful recreation.
Recreation jobs outnumber logging and mill jobs by five to one. And as more and more visitors frequent rural towns surrounding recreation hotspots, more restaurants, boutiques, hotels, and lodges spring up, in turn providing further employment opportunities.
Have you ever thought about what a road does when you’re not driving on it? It just sits there, right? Actually, most of it just sits there. But bit by bit, it starts to sit in other places too. What kind of other places? Mostly nearby stream and river beds, harming water quality and damaging fish habitat. In fact, according to the Forest Service, sediment from roads is greater than sediment from all other forest management activities combined. There’s only two ways to stop a road from doing this — provide frequent and costly maintenance, or remove it altogether.
Salmon and aquatic life
Sediment in waterways harms fish in several ways. For one, sediment tends to bond with toxic chemicals (often from passing cars), which the fish ingest or inhale. With increased sediment, oxygen levels in the water decrease, making it harder for fish like salmon to swim upstream to spawning grounds. When sunlight collides with particles in the water, it disperses into heat energy — so the more particles of sediment in the water, the higher the water temperature gets. Changes in water temperature can have drastic effects on what types of creatures can live there. Bottom line is, fish — especially salmon — like clear, cool streams. That means the best fishing spot is the one with only one road leading to it.
Improved water quality doesn’t just mean healthier fish populations, it means the whole ecosystem begins to thrive. All living things benefit from clean water, and removing old logging roads is one of the best ways to keep our streams fresh and our rivers clear.
Forest diversity With fewer roads, more areas can recover from decades of logging. By removing old logging roads, we can give our public lands a chance to grow into the lush forests they were always meant to be.
We need passionate activist like you to provide comments on the Forest Service’s website, attend events, and contact decision makers to demand that recreation takes precedence over logging.
There has never been a more urgent time for our forests.