Oregon WildBlogOregon Wild Blog RSS
News, notes, trip reports, and the lighter side (of the wilder side) of the Oregon environmental and conservation movement.
Oregon and other states across the nation are celebrating roadless recreation this week.
Get ready. It’s almost here- Roadless Recreation Week is August 7-15th. The national event celebrates the 58.5 million acres of roadless areas protected by the 2001 Roadless Rule.
Oregon is blessed with nearly 2 million acres of roadless wildlands including Olallie Lakes, Mt. Bailey, Metolius Breaks, and the Imnaha – home to one of Oregon’s two confirmed wolf packs. These remaining pristine wildlands are important sources for clean drinking water, habitat for endangered fish and wildlife, and of course the amazing recreation opportunities for which Oregon is so well known.
A preview for Roadless Recreation Week - Mount Bailey summit.
I'm not much of a mountain climber. But I set myself the goal of summiting one of the Oregon Cascade's peaks this year and picked one of the most accessible - Mount Bailey - to lead an Oregon Wild hike to.
This mountain has always appealed to me, with it's humble rounded summit - as opposed to Mt. Thielsen's pointy pinnacle standing out across Diamond Lake. It's a 10-mile round trip hike, with 3000 feet of elevation gain, which seemed doable on paper.
Oregon is wolf country...and wolf country is beautiful!
The rural-urban divide may be as real in Oregon as anywhere in the United States, and the existence of native predators like wolves, cougars, and bears is just one of many potential flashpoints. Portland’s Forest Park may not be wild enough for wolves, moose, and cowboys. Enterprise may not be big enough for the Blazers, ballet, and hipsters. Still, Oregon is big enough for all of those things, and whether hunter or hippy, some things do unite us all – or should.
Our state is particularly blessed to have an abundance of natural treasures. Many are part of a system of public lands managed for the benefit of all regardless of zip code, age, or recreational interest. My sister from Wisconsin adores Silver Falls, Clarno cowboys were welcome this weekend on Portland’s public waterfront to soak in the sounds of the Blues Festival, and last week I was lucky enough to be welcomed by some of the citizens of Wallowa County to enjoy some of the best their part of the state has to offer the world.
...To oil, mining, and coal!
In my personal life, I care about a lot of issues and have some pretty strong political beliefs. The same is true here at work, but I spend most of my time focused on advocating for the protection of Oregon’s remaining pristine roadless lands.
Until they are designated as Wilderness – something Oregon’s delegation seems happy to keep on their to-do list – the Roadless Rule is the best way to protect places like Mt. Bailey, Lookout Mountain, & much of Oregon’s Yellowstone. When Barack Obama said he would uphold and defend the Roadless Rule, I assumed he meant it, so when he became President Obama, I was hopeful.
I was all for "yes we can". But when special interests want to make a profit from our public lands, I'm more for "oh no you can't". Or at least, as my Aussie friends would say, "slow down chum".
A coalition of folks from the Tongass National Forest in SE Alaska are touring Oregon to learn about collaboration and restoration.
The Tongass National Forest covers 17 million acres along the coast in southeast Alaska. The country's largest National Forest with healthy populations of salmon, bald eagles, grizzly bears and wolves contains the largest expanse of untouched forest left in the nation as well. It's also a Forest mired in controversy over these amazing resources.
Though old-growth clear-cutting began in the 1950s, most of the vast rainforest remains pristine: More than 9 million acres are designated roadless areas, initially protected under the 2001 Roadless Rule. Unfortunately, in 2003, the Bush administration exempted the Tongass from the popular roadless protections, potentially opening up millions of acres of old-growth forests to road building and logging. Logging of old-growth forests continues outside of these areas as well.
But there is some hope that the Tongass is looking ahead to a more sustainable future - one that preserves future options for its people, fish, and wildlife instead of promoting a boom & bust logging cycle and the decimation of its abundant wildlife.
Logging in the backcountry to stop beetle outbreaks and reduce fire risk does neither.
Do you remember being in grade school and being pretty sure your antiquated old teacher was passing on some outdated information? You muttered as much to your friend, made comments in the margins of your notes, and even asked some good questions. But the teacher persisted. Then the smart kid in the room raised her hand and made the same case much more comprehensively and eloquently. Your reaction may have been to think “Man! I wish I’d said that”.
But you were glad she did, and you hoped the teacher would listen.
Sometimes similar things happen in the real world. Across the country, bark beetles are doing what they’ve been doing for millennia – reproducing and, in the process, killing trees. In response the Forest Service (the teacher in our scenario) has felt the need to address what they see as a growing “crisis”. In many cases, they’ve reflexively proposed to do what they’ve always done – log it! A new report suggests that might not be the best idea.
But little things mean a lot
Most of our roadless protection efforts have lately focused on stopping the controversial D-Bug Timber Sale just North of Crater Lake National Park. For us, that project was a reminder of just how important it is for us to ensure the Obama administration continues to honor its promise to uphold and defend the 2001 Roadless Rule. It's also shown why we need our elected leaders to step up and codify the popular rule into law (so far all but Congressman Schrader & Walden and Senator Wyden have co-sponsored legislation to do just that.)
Sadly D-Bug is just one of several threats to the common sense protections of The Roadless Rule. Colorado is going forward with a weak state-specific plan that is a major giveaway to oil and gas and other special interests, irresponsible mining is causing irreparable harm to roadless wildlands, and more roadless timber sales have been proposed from California to Alaska.
From Crater Lake to the Grand Canyon, development interests are wreaking havoc. Submit your comments today!
Years ago, as a much younger adult, I took a boat tour in Crater Lake. As a similarly young eco-purist, I was a little put off by the boat tour idea, the marketing of a beautiful and pristine place. Truth is, it was fabulous, quiet, and there were no loud motors or vending machines to officially disappoint. I was just cutting my teeth on geology and water resources and was enthralled with the natural history of the area, so I let the tourista nuance pass.
Earlier this month, Oregon Wild called the region’s attention to Crater Lake once again as the lake faced potential helicopter tours. Talk about tourista. As our Oregonian editorial stated, it’s the quality of air and the quiet solitude that draws people, even the young eco-purists, into the state’s only National Park. The threat of helicopters reminds us that Crater Lake, though a national icon is not hazard free. In addition to the noise, danger, and disruption helicopters could bring, the region surrounding Crater Lake faces large-scale logging projects. The poster child for such activity is a project known as “D-Bug,” which would log thousands of acres of forest north of the park boundary, install 25 miles of new logging roads, and convert 8 miles of hiking trails into logging roads.
Turns out Crater Lake isn’t the only National Park threatened by development. Arguably one of our nation’s most iconic parks, the Grand Canyon is facing development that might scoff at a little helicopter noise: hardrock mining.
Read more about the threat to Grand Canyon and see what you can do to stop it after the jump.
If only common sense was a bit more common
- Problem: Many of our National Forests are a mess because of decades of mismanagement.
- Problem: Most everyone agrees that's because of a combination of too much logging and years of fire suppression.
- Problem: The Forest service spends too much money suppressing fires & lacks the resources to adequately fund other major priorities.
It seems like there might be a pretty simple solution to this problem: Do something different!
“Rather than devoting a lot of money and manpower to fighting fires, Floch wants a more hands-off approach, allowing flames to do what they do naturally in a fire-dependant ecosystem.”
That’s an excerpt from a great article that ran in the Ravalli Republic about a fire in the Bitterroot National Forest in Idaho. There, the Forest Service is allowing natural fires in remote backcountry to do what they do. Click here for the full article, and continue past the jump to read more…
We heard a lot about hope, change, & leadership last fall. We're glad to see that one Oregonian meant it.
Seven months after the 2008 elections, the US Senate finally confirmed its 100th member. Though Oregon’s Senate drama didn’t drag on quite as long as Minnesota’s, you may recall that it took a few days to declare a winner. Once the dust settled and the votes were counted, Jeff Merkley was declared a clear winner over two-term Senator Gordon Smith
Conservationists can often be a cynical bunch. Still, we cheered as candidates from coast to coast were elected on some of the greenest rhetoric we’d heard in a long while. After years of playing defense and hanging on by our fingernails, hope was a pretty new and exciting feeling.
So we dusted off to-do lists that just days earlier had seemed like wishful-thinking lists and compared them to all the promises of our newly elected leaders. It turned out a lot of them matched up pretty well.
In some cases, we’re still waiting for those promises to be fulfilled. However, when it comes to Oregon’s junior senate seat, change, it seems, has come!