The North Clack Timber Sale is located just 35 miles east of Portland, near the Clackamas River in Mt. Hood National Forest. This project, planned by the local Forest Service, includes roughly 4,000 acres of commercial (industrial) logging, 341 acres of which is clearcutting or “regeneration harvest” in Forest Service terminology. This logging activity would require nearly 20 miles of road-building in order to access the targeted areas, which has major negative effects on hydrological function of the local ecosystem. Over 1,000 acres of the logging proposed targets mature forest (over 80 years old) with scattered old growth patches.
Bark’s annual, volunteer groundtruthing campout, Base Camp, was held within the project are during the summer of 2018. Over two-weeks, volunteers field checked each unit of the proposed project and found countless old growth trees, unmapped streams, and sensitive plant species. Working with the Northwest Ecosystem Survey Team (NEST), Bark located approximately 70 nests of the red tree vole, a federally protected rodent that lives in the old growth canopy. Each confirmed active nest requires a 10-acre buffer and the Forest Service had previously informed Bark that there would be buffers on all confirmed nests. Disappointingly, the Forest Service had not yet included buffers for the red tree vole nests in the Preliminary Assessment documents released in March 2019. Instead, the Forest Service has proposed additional clearcutting in areas known to have nesting red tree voles. Originally proposing 255 acres, the agency added an additional alternative that included a total of 371 acres of “regeneration harvest”.
In the summer of 2019, additional red tree vole surveys were conducted by the Forest Service, which located approximately 100 nests. This resulted in a total of 411 acres of logging. The project’s Draft Decision, released in the fall of 2019, did not protect all red tree vole nests or respond to Bark’s data regarding roads, illegally built trails, botany, and unmapped riparian areas. Because of these issues, Bark and NEST submitted a Pre-Decisional Objection and are awaiting a Final Decision from the Forest Service, due in December of 2019.
Logging has been shown by Oregon State University and the Oregon Global Warming Commission to be a top contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in Oregon, so it’s important that the Forest Service hear from the public that they want their forests to be a carbon sink, not source. We believe the Forest Service should be working to restore the forest in this area by decommissioning old logging roads, rehabilitating illegally-created motorized trails, and improving habitat for species like salmon and beaver.
The outdated Mt. Hood National Forest Management Plan still prioritizes the majority of this area as “Timber Emphasis.” Looking back, this project area has a history of logging and wildfire. The area was originally privately owned, and logging began well over a century ago using a railroad and steam donkey system. After several logging and railroad-related fires, much of the burned area was salvage logged, and was either replanted or re-seeded naturally. Some of this land was transferred to the Forest Service as part of a settlement for fire damages. North Clack also includes some areas more recently burned in 2014 in the 36 Pit Fire.
North Clack encompasses the La Dee Flats OHV riding area, which has a history and reputation of unauthorized motorized trail building. Bark believes that opening up the forest through logging (and building new roads to do so) consistently brings about more of this type of activity, and Bark is pushing the Forest Service to consider this additional impact.
(above) Area of North Clack naturally regenerated from 1902 fire.