For many Oregonians, Mount Hood and the Columbia River Gorge offer some of the best our state has to offer: incredible views, stunning waterfalls, epic hikes, and so much more. Like many recreation hot spots across the state, these areas have seen a huge increase in visitors in recent years. The pandemic magnified these issues as more people than ever searched for solace and socially distant opportunities to see friends and family on our public lands. Mount Hood is in danger of being loved to death.
Meanwhile, climate change and US Forest Service proposals to aggressively log the forest continue to stack up, threatening to degrade the recreation opportunities, clean water, and wildlife habitat of this beloved region. The management plan for the Mt Hood National Forest is nearly 40 years old now and it fails to adequately address climate change, sustainable recreation, and wildlife needs.
Thankfully, Congressman Blumenauer and Senator Wyden have spent the last ten years working with local communities, tribes, conservation organizations, and recreation groups to craft a thoughtful, carefully balanced compromise proposal that attempts to address all these issues: Legislative Concepts: Recreation Enhancement, Wildfire Resiliency, and Conservation for Mt. Hood and the Columbia River Gorge.
Here are a few key elements of this vision:
- Permanently protects special places like Tamanawas Falls, the upper Sandy River, Salmon River, and Mount Defiance as Wilderness Areas.
- Safeguards clean, safe drinking water for communities including Rhododendron, Lake Oswego, Oregon City, West Linn and more.
- Designates an overarching National Recreation Area to guide future management
- Addresses climate change and legitimate fire risks to homes and communities.
- Provides greater access and opportunities for communities of color and others who have often been left out of public lands recreation
If proposed as legislation and enacted into law, these changes would provide an opportunity to address conservation, climate change, and sustainable recreation. Will you join us in letting Rep Blumenauer and Sen Wyden know what you think about their proposal?
Here are a few things you can consider mentioning in your comments:
- I support the Wilderness designations in the proposal, the gold standard for public lands protection.
- Please move this legislation forward as soon as possible. Several logging projects threaten areas included in the bill, and could be logged imminently if not protected.
- Please ensure that the National Recreation Area management direction is conservation-based by requiring that there be 1) no aggressive logging and 2) strong rules to focus recreation in appropriate areas and not sensitive wildlife habitat.
- Thank you for including public transportation solutions and consulting tribal communities in your vision for the future of Mount Hood. Everyone should belong in and have access to public lands.