OPINION: U.S. Forest Service ignores public input on Mount Hood logging
We are deeply invested in the care and management of the public lands around Mount Hood. Recently, joined by hundreds of our neighbors across the region, we engaged public review and comment under the National Environmental Policy Act, regarding the proposed Zigzag Timber Sale.
Our families spend time in this area, all year round. We appreciate and rely on the businesses that depend on the recreation opportunities in the Zigzag District. We, along with our downstream neighbors and the fish and wildlife, depend on the clean water from the Sandy and Salmon River Watersheds.
We want to see the forest thrive.
This August, we dedicated hours of research, deliberation and study in order to participate in the public processes of forest management, enacting our rights and responsibilities to care for the land that sustains us.
Hundreds of local and regional community members made it a priority, despite the stresses of the pandemic, to provide Forest Service staff with high-quality information regarding the project area in an effort to support the agency in good decision making. We understand that Forest Service actions flow downward from the chain of command and that the agency may have limited recourse to affect outcomes.
Yet our grassroots effort to provide local input from people who are deeply invested in this forest has provided the Forest Service with a means to carefully and thoughtfully consider their constituents' concerns, as the public comment process is meant to do. We did our part, expecting that Forest Supervisor Richard Periman and local Forest Service staff would respect and utilize our input.
Instead, it seems they have disregarded the local public completely, incorporating not one single recommendation or request for stronger protection of these invaluable watersheds, an accounting of climate change impacts to the forest, water resources and carbon emissions, or the bolstering of the recreation economy.
As the highest-ranking official on the Mt. Hood National Forest, we urge Periman to look for positive ways to challenge the status quo, putting these dynamic ecosystems and our communities front and center as his agency continues to implement projects that will affect the forests for centuries.
We've garnered 1,000 signatures on a letter to Supervisor Periman, which we'll be delivering later this month.
If you are concerned about the management priorities on Mount Hood, reach out to Bark.
Penny Mock lives in Brightwood; Laura Strudwick lives in Rhododendron. This column also was signed by Mitch Williams, Brightwood; Georgenne Ferdun, Portland; Russell Strudwick, Rhododendron; and Courtney Rae, associate director at Bark, a nonprofit working to protect Mt. Hood National Forest and surrounding federal lands.
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