Visitors to old-growth forests may know that these forests are ecologically important, but for most people, myself included, it is the more emotive aspects of an old forest that inspire and motivate us. A brief summary of a few hikes in the Willamette National Forest illustrating some of this diversity is provided below.
The Tillamook and Clatsop State Forests in the northern Oregon Coast Range are an unappreciated wonder. Surrounded by clearcut logging plantations, the Tillamook and Clatsop provide a possible refuge for the wild plants, fish, and animals that were once abundant throughout the Oregon Coast Range but whose presence has been diminished by corporate tree farms. It is also an incredible place for hiking and exploring, offering opportunities for solitude where so many other places in Oregon feel like they're bursting at the seams.
Enter the mysterious world of the marbled murrelet, a rare seabird that nests in the dwindling old-growth forests of Oregon's Coast Range. For years, scientists struggled to understand where these birds nested - eventually finding them intimately tied to the forest ecosystems of the coast that were also home to salmon, northern spotted owls, and many other species at risk from extensive clearcutting. Out at sea, these birds face a different set of challenges to survival - especially in a warming climate.
By Helena Virga
It seems unimaginable that the Forest Service would target mature and old-growth forests for logging in the Mt. Hood National Forest, threatening vital carbon-storing forests and precious spotted owl habitat, and degrading the recreation values that attract so many to the beautiful areas around the mountain. Yet, the Forest Service’s Grasshopper Project does just that. Luckily, Oregon Wild is stepping up to challenge the Forest Service and their incredulous decision.