Bark calls upon volunteers and concerned citizens to intervene in destructive timber sales

KBOO response to COVID19
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Air date: 
Wed, 02/05/2020 - 5:30pm
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A new 2,700 acre logging proposal, the ZigZag timber sale, may soon come to pass in Mt. Hood National Forest. But not if Bark has something to say about it. 

Bark is a non-profit Oregon forest watchdog organization dedicated to protecting, preserving and transforming Mt. Hood National Forest. Their work has helped shape numerous timber salses in the area while advocating for the wilderness and the public's right to access it.

KBOO's Erin Bernard and Nat Moon spoke to Bark volunteers Camilo Marquez and Tara about the ZigZag timber sale and how volunteers and community members can use their voice to influence the decision-making process. 

Public comment period on the ZigZag timber sale ends February 12, 2020. More information about how to make your voice heard available at bark-out.org.

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Audio Transcript

Nat Moon  0:00  
Now we have a guest in studio with us, welcome Camilo Marquez, who is a volunteer with the nonprofit Bark. Bark is an Oregon watchdog organization dedicated to protecting, preserving and transforming Mount Hood National Forest. Their work has helped shape numerous timber sales in the area while advocating for the wilderness and the public's right to access it. Thank you so much for being here.

Camilo Marquez  0:25  
It's a pleasure to be here.

Nat Moon  0:27  
So let's just jump right in. Speaking of timber sales and Mount Hood National Forest Bark is working on a new 2700 acre logging proposal, the Zigzag timber sale

Camilo Marquez  0:38  
Working against it

Nat Moon  0:39  
Working against it. Thank you for that correction. So the public comment period is open until February 12. So tell us, what is this timber sale and why is Bark interested in it?

Camilo Marquez  0:51  
Well, a timber sale exactly as it indicates is a sale of trees logged on public land. You know, the Mount Hood forest has a plan a governing plan that's- that's established by the US Forest Service. This plan is now 30 years old, it should have been revised 15 years ago. And part of the plan includes logging, actually logging on public land is the main purpose of the US Forest Services' plans for the area. And what we are concerned about is that the plan does not take into consideration the current stress that we're facing over the ecology due to climate change. As you know, logging degrades the forest and that results in damage to the ecology, for example, when clear cuts occur, and there's a lot of rain and runoff. It goes into the streams, it  creates turbidity that interferes with the salmon habitat. Logging of trees also interferes with the shade that the salmon require in order to keep the rivers cool for them. So we are very concerned about this. And it's happening in an area which has not been logged in over 20 years. And in that period of time, there's been great progress and we have to give the US Forest Service and Mount Hood credit for this in creating significant restoration. We've seen really significant improvement in the salmon that are flowing in those streams that are- that are going to be- that would be affected by this timber sale. So we're- we're concerned that this sale does not recognize the significant value of forest in- and- functioning as a sequesteration of carbon. We're now in a period where we have to recognize the contribution of forest to dealing with climate change. And Oregon happens to be a significant contributor to the amount of sequestration that occurs. There's I think it's one of the 10 largest areas in the Forest Service regarding the ability to sequester carbon. So we need to update the plan in order to take this into consideration. And make sure that it improves the protection of water that the- the forest provides, and to safeguard recreation areas. The Zigzag timber sale is going to occur in the area along the corridor of Route 26, where there is a lot of recreational activity, camping, biking, hiking, skiing. So we really need to ask the community that's going to be impacted by this to be aware and to get involved. And you asked about what we can do and we have an opportunity to make comments to the US Forest Service, that we have significant concerns about that. Hello, Tara.

Tara  4:27  
Hello. 

Erin Bernard  4:28  
Yeah, we're joined now also by Tara from Bark. So we got two people in studio at this point talking about Zigzag timber. So I'm curious Camilo and Tara, you can jump in too, so there's a public comment what are- what are you hoping to galvanize the public to do? Are you wanting people to show up and- and voice their support? Or are there other ways that people can join you guys? 

Tara  4:52  
Right now the very best way is to submit comments. The comment period is open for just a few more days. I believe it ends on the 12th. And there's a lot of easy ways to do that if you go to the Bark-out.org website, you can find sample comments that you can borrow from to construct your own comments and also where to send them. And we're encouraging people to say things like, this is a big recreation area, we want it to be preserved for that. Or we recognize the value of carbon sequestration for these trees. And we'd like these trees to be saved for their carbon, their climate mitigation potential. So submitting comments is a really big way. We also have opportunities for people to go out to this part of the forest and ground truth, where we survey the potential areas to see if there are any reason why we need to protect a specific area.

Nat Moon  5:46  
So on Barks website, I saw something really interesting. It says the forests are public, meaning they belong to us all, which is something I think a lot of people forget that it's all of our responsibility. Can you both talk a little bit about that and about the 'Free Mount Hood' campaign.

Camilo Marquez  6:04  
Well, this- this is point that I want to make, as I said before the rules of the Forest Service allow for- for timber sales and the impact of the timber sales in terms of contribution to the economy is really minimal compared to what recreation offers. But even more significant than that, is to recognize that the timber sales are fostered by the demands of the timber industry in Oregon. Oregon has a timber industry that contributes only 2% to the- Oregon's GDP. However, the- the influence that the forest industry has is really outsized and more to- you know, reflect a concern with with climate, the timber industry contributes the largest amount of any industry to carbon pollution in the state.

Tara  7:09  
Yeah, so that this is where the 'Free Mount Hood' plan comes in. 'Free Mount Hood' is a campaign that's geared towards changing the entire Mount Hood Forest Plan. Right now there's a very outdated plan, which gives specific purposes for all of the forest. That hasn't been updated in over 30 years, even though part of its original mandate was to be updated in 15 year increments. There's no mention of climate change right now in the management plan. And we want that to be a forefront. We want to change their priorities that reflect the current science that we have about climate change, as well as about restoration for air and watersheds, habitat, as climate change happens. There's going to need to be more and more specialized areas of habitat for all of the different animals, some of whom will be moving into this region. And so the 'Free Mount Hood' campaign is kind of a big picture thing to completely change the priorities of the forest plan itself. And instead of us continually fighting individual timber sales and other projects that come up to threaten Mount Hood National Forest, changing the whole forest management plan would help to completely change the way that these timber sales are even approached. And I believe that the 'Free Mount Hood' campaign wouldn't be completely getting rid of all logging on public forest, but it would be significantly stepping up protections for all of the species that are there, especially protecting mature and old growth forest and protecting riparian areas, protecting recreational areas. And just making all of it reflect more the priorities of the public. And to give the public more access.

Erin Bernard  9:02  
Great. Well, we have about a minute left. This has gone really quickly. So zooming out big picture. What else would you want to say about how people can get involved with Bark and mention if you want your ecology club, and events coming up?

Camilo Marquez  9:18  
Well, I would go to the website bark-out.org. And there are a number of activities that Bark is engaged and we have the ecology club which speaks on different topics at a session once a month, there is the Bark About which as Tara mentioned, we take trips out to the area to do ground truthing and see what is happening with the ecology out there. And we would really like people to join our project to- to create this campaign to have an impact. What- what I think is really important for us, this is a community resource, we need to have a vision that- that looks at how it's going to succeed, to thrive in- in the next several generations, not just in terms of what we can get out of it now.

Tara  10:14  
And those monthly Bark Abouts are on the second Sunday and that's a great way to get involved with Bark for the first time.

Nat Moon  10:21  
Well, thank you so much Camilo and Tara for being here. We've been speaking with Camilo and Tara or two volunteers with a nonprofit watchdog organization Bark, more information on Bark and their upcoming events at bark-out.org

Transcribed by https://otter.ai