Wild and Free Bulletin
May 26, 2006
Update: The Walden-Blumenauer
Wilderness Bill, HR 5025
Congressmen Greg Walden (R) and Earl Blumenauer (D) recently introduced a bill (HR 5025) to designate Wilderness and Wild and
. Overall the bill is a good start to solving problems facing
’s forests and rivers. In particular, the Cooper Spur Wild and Free Coalition supports the inclusion of the Cooper Spur settlement -- a land trade that would stop Mt. Hood Meadows Corporation from developing a destination resort at Cooper Spur. Additionally, it would protect the
watershed that supplies 25% of
county with water AND permanently protect the backcountry around Cooper Spur as Wilderness.
Other places proposed for protection in HR 5025 include areas like
, Big Bottom, Eagle Creek, Alder Creek, and parts of the Columbia Gorge Wilderness. However, the bill leaves many special places unprotected, including groves of ancient trees that provide habitat for fish and wildlife and that clean the rivers that supply our drinking water. And that is why we need your help...
Please write to Senator Gordon Smith and urge him to work with Senator Wyden to introduce legislation this year to protect all the remaining wildlands (see map here) around
and in the Columbia River Gorge. Click here to see a sample letter on our web site.
Senator Gordon Smith
One World Trade Center
121 SW Salmon Street, Suite 1250
What HR 5025 protects:
77,500 acres of Wilderness, including
- Rugged backcountry of
- 1,000-year-old cedar trees in Big Bottom
- Old-growth in Eagle Creek and Alder Creek
- Additions to the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness
- Cooper Spur and Elk Cove Mazama Mount Hood Wilderness Additions
- Bull of the Woods and
Gorge Wilderness Additions
23 miles of Wild and
- Parts of the Zig Zag and
HR 5025 leaves many key wildlands and waters unprotected, including:
- Clackamas Wilderness - Whitewater, scenic lakes, wild salmon and steelhead runs, and rare remnants of lush old-growth forests characterize places like
. The eastside portions of Bull of the Woods Wilderness additions are home to salmon and steelhead runs and mature forests.
- Badger Creek Wilderness Additions - The largest stand of unprotected old-growth in Mt. Hood National Forest at Boulder Lake; Fifteenmile Creek’s diverse landscape and wildlife; and the migration corridor for hawks, eagles, and other birds of prey at Bonney Butte.
- Columbia Gorge Wilderness - Dramatic cliffs, wildflowers, and waterfalls at
, the headwaters of
, one of
’s most visited destinations.
- Mount Hood Wilderness Additions Protection for
’s lower slopes would preserve beautiful
on the mountain’s east flank, the wildlife habitat and fish-bearing streams of the lovely
’s watershed at
and Lost Lake Butte.
- Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness Additions These additions will protect
from sprawl, development, and logging, as well as preserving the key wetland and fish habitat of the Salmon River Meadows.
- Wild and Scenic Rivers Beautiful waterways like Fifteenmile Creek, the Oak Grove Fork Clackamas River, the East Fork Hood River, Fish Creek, and the Collawash River should be safeguarded as Wild and Scenic Rivers.
- The sole focus on
leaves out other areas that deserve protection, such as Copper Salmon on the
, and Soda Mountain near
. All these proposed wilderness areas enjoy tremendous local support.
Other bill components:
- We applaud the Congressmen on their innovative and positive language that will help the Forest Service to identify unneeded roads and to recommend a potential strategy for their closure and conversion into recreational trails.
- The bill creates a Recreation Advisory Council and reserves seats for the logging industry. Unlike the groups who represent, horsemen, skiers, hikers, mountain bikers, snowmobilers and hunters and anglers, the forest products industry is not a recreational interest and should be removed from the Council.
- The legislation includes a loophole that could be used to increase logging of
’s eastern pine forests under the guise of “forest health.” Disease, insects, and fire are part of the forest life cycle and a recent study has determined that logging often only creates bigger problems. It is important to recognize that while some parts of the
might benefit from active restoration, we should take care not to overstate the severity of naturally occurring pathogens, insect populations or fire risk.
- A Forest Stewardship plan should not be created exclusively by the Secretary of Agriculture and the Resources Advisory Committee (RAC) as HR 5025 currently outlines. Instead, a committee composed of local community interests, conservationists, and scientists should have equal standing with the RAC.
- The bill calls for developing plans for transportation, forest stewardship, and recreation. In some cases the legislation specifies a mechanism for public involvement including public meetings and comments periods; this mechanism should be a part of all new plans for the
- We support the sovereign interests of Native American tribes on the Mount Hood National Forests. We urge that priority area management for huckleberry and other first foods be implemented without mechanized thinning wherever possible, in a manner that helps to restore the natural fire regimes of the forest, and does not thin old-growth or mature trees, or impact roadless areas.
- HR 5025 also attempts to assess the biomass production capacity of the
. While conservative biomass utilization that is a by-product of valid forest restoration efforts can be sustainable, we caution that not every acre of forest needs to be actively restored with chainsaws. It is important that a biomass assessment not create a plan to provide more material than the forest can produce without harm to its own regeneration, ecosystem functions, wildlife habitat and watershed health.
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