National Forests are stolen Indigenous lands, now controlled by the U.S. federal government and managed by the U.S. Forest Service, a branch of the Department of Agriculture.
The Forest Service manages 193 million acres of National Forest System lands and provides assistance to the more than 10 million family-forest landowners in this country. Each of the 154 National Forests in the U.S. is expected to meet an annual timber quota, measured in “million board feet.” The Forest Service plans, designs, facilitates, and auctions off timber sale projects to private logging companies. As of 2021, Mt Hood National Forest is directed to produce approximately 33mmbf of timber per year.
Fundamentally, Bark is concerned with and works to respond to logging proposals that target mature and old growth areas of the forest as well as sensitive watersheds and wildlife habitat. In order to meet timber quotas, the Forest Service often plans ecologically destructive timber sales and rushes through their analysis of the environmental impacts of logging and roadbuilding. The pressure of timber quotas is not compatible with environmental protection, but environmental laws give the public some recourse to push back on the logging priority when ecosystems are threatened with degradation. Bark uses these laws to advocate for changes to the logging projects, stopping them wherever possible.
Bark monitors every timber sale (logging project) proposed on Mt. Hood and uses groundtruthing to document the forest conditions within the proposed project areas. With this information, Bark and our members engage the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to participate in the decision-making process for public forests. NEPA requires that the Forest Service analyze the environmental impacts of proposed timber sales, provide this information to the public, and accept feedback (public comment) on the proposal.