Whale Timber Sale

Whale is the next timber sale in the Clackamas River Ranger District that is being discussed in the collaboratives. The area generally overlaps the Fish Creek Watershed, which is of particular ecological importance, and part of the middle Clackamas Watershed (4620 road network).

Recent Historical Context

Fish Creek is an incredibly special place in the Clackamas River, located on the western slope of the Cascade Range in northwest Oregon and designated Wild and Scenic River. There is currently a proposal to re-visit building receiving facilities on the Oregon Coast to regassify foreign Liquefied Natural Gas and transfer it via pipeline from the Oregon coast through 47 miles of Mt. Hood National Forest. This LNG would cross Fish Creek and many other creeks, rivers, and watersheds.

Back in the mid-1990s, there was massive flooding to this area and, due to the history of logging on its very steep slopes, this combination created the conditions for erosion and landslide. The resulting washouts forced a closure of the area to the public for sometime. The Forest Service didn’t have the resources to replace the roads. Because of this area was largely left alone, much ecological restoration took place both with and without human intervention. The ecosystems were allowed to regenerate, creating potential habitat for native plants + wildlife to return.

Illegal User-Created Roads

Unfortunately this area is very popular with ATV and OHV users, who regularly build illegal roads for their vehicles to pass through the forest indiscriminately. Roads already have an effect on hydrology and soil quality. Building roads in sensitive and high landslide areas contributes to more slope instability, leading to further damages associated with erosion and increased sediment in the creek. If illegal user-created trails cross water streams, this not only increases sediment in the creek (also heating the temperatures) but also introduces contaminants, like gasoline, into the water sources. Despite the many reports from Bark to the US. Forest Service about illegal OHV roads, they claimed in the 1990s that they had no resources to dismantle the illegal roads and suggested that Bark Staff pick the road by hand. Bark member Amy discovered the illegal trails being built into the watershed and she did indeed destroy several by hand.

Furthermore, anytime roads are re-opened for construction projects such as this one they are rarely dismantled. This increases access for ATV and OHV users to continue using the public lands in ways that are detrimental to the local waters and wildlife.

Amy, at Rimrock Creek in the Fish Creek area, May 2010

Past and Potential Pipeline Plans

The plans for the Palomar Pipeline in 2009 would have crossed both through public and private lands, cutting across the entire width of Mt. Hood National Forest. In the Fish Creek area specifically, the plan was to create a 120+ foot-wide clearcut to allow for the pipe to pass through the steep slopes of this area. Clear-cutting across already steep slopes would drastically de-stabilize the slope and set the conditions again for severe erosions. Northwest Natural partnered with Transcanada to create the Palomar Pipeline Project, which was successfully stopped by Bark, in partnership with many other environmentalists, scientists, private landowners, fisherpersons, and the public.

Hike the Pipe! was a campaign organized by Bark volunteers to hike the Mt. Hood portion of where the Palomar Pipleline would cross through, using a swatch of orange fabric to represent its footprint in the forest.

Orange Alert near Memaloose, July 2009 

Any future plans to revive the plan for Trail West pipeline to cross through this area would have to rebuild Road 54 as well as develop new road systems to bring machinery in for pipeline construction. Aside from the 270+ acre clearcut to make way for the pipeline, allowing this to be built would undo all of the restoration which has happened naturally, through public action, as well as through U.S. Forest Serivce’s intervention.

Check out archival footage of this February 2010 Bark About to Proposed LNG Palomar Piple Line filmed with hike leaders Amy, Tarp, and ?

Resources for Comment-Writing

Habitats & Species

Threatened steelhead trout and salmon use this area as habitat. These fish species with naturally created pools to spawn. In areas of high road density, sedimentation from erosion, fish spawning correspondingly decreases. The Forest Service made this area their special restoration project, actually dismantling paved roads and creating log jams to increase the fish habitat. They removed over 120 miles of road, using emergency funds after the landslides in the 1990s. Barkers were integral in pushing for this use of funds.

Alder also common in this area. This tree species is a nitrogen-fixer, and love growing in disturbed areas. Their presense contributes to the restorative effects on the soil where the roads were previously.