Bark has been fighting the Jazz Timber Sale since its inception in 2011. Jazz made headlines in December 2012, earning a front page story in the Oregonian following the former Mt. Hood Forest Supervisor’s decision to withdraw his approval of the logging project. This marked one of the first times a major story has been published on the ecological controversy associated with forest thinning as an alternative to clearcut logging. The Jazz Timber Sale was reintroduced – without substantive changes to address our concerns – early the following year under new Mt. Hood Forest Supervisor Lisa Northrop. This action prompted an appeal by Bark, and an unsuccessful appeal negotiation meeting in which the Forest Service demonstrated no willingness to discuss a resolution that would mitigate any of our concerns regarding the impacts of logging in this ecologically sensitive area.
In July 2013, Bark filed a lawsuit challenging the Forest Service on the Jazz Timber Sale. Bark’s lawsuit alleges that the Forest Service did not comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and National Forest Management Act (NFMA) in its decision to log this geologically unstable watershed. Despite active litigation, the Forest Service proceeded with entering into contracts with Candian timber giant Interfor to log the component Bass and Drum sales (note the Jazz theme). For more information on the details of our lawsuit please read the article, ‘Bark Sues on Jazz Timber Sale.’ Bark is represented in the lawsuit by Staff Attorney Brenna Bell, and by Dave Becker of the Law Office of David H. Becker, LLC.
In November of 2013 Jazz once again came to the forefront when Bark learned that the Forest Service had permitted Interfor to start out-of-season logging of the Bass Timber Sale. The Bark community sprang to action, filed for a temporary restraining order, held a successful public rally outside of the Forest Service Regional Office, and secured an agreement that logging would not commence until our lawsuit had been heard, with the judge’s decision date expected to coincide roughly with the opening of logging season. Judge Hernandez heard oral arguments in March 2014 and currently we await his decision.
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Background: The Forest Service initiated planning for the Jazz Timber Sale in 2011, with a proposal to log about 2,000 acres spread throughout 30 square miles of the Collawash River watershed. The Collawash is a tributary to the Clackamas River and is host to the last wild late run of winter coho salmon, making it key spot for the survival of this species. The Collawash is also considered the most geologically unstable area in all of Mt. Hood National Forest, located on a geolocial formation known as an earthflow. Earthflows are described by the Forest Service as slow moving glaciers of soil. Logging loosens soil and increases sediment runoff into streams and rivers, and Bark is concerned these impacts would be magnified on this unstable landscape, and would negatively impact water health and salmon habitat.
The Jazz Timber Sale is being billed as restoration, yet would allocate time and money to re-build 12 miles of old roads that have been either been actively decommissioned by the Forest Service or are naturally reincorporating into the landscape, and would construct 0.4 miles of new road. Additionally, the large size and vast span of Jazz makes it very difficult for the public, let alone the Forest Service, to accurately gauge the environmental effects. Nonetheless, Bark groundtruthers have spent more than 600 hours to survey all proposed Jazz units.