Traveling east from Prineville on Highway 26 used to be a beautiful drive known for its towering old growth ponderosa pines. This scenic drive meanders through a portion of the Ochoco National Forest along Marks Creek on your way to eastern Oregon. The grassy meadows dotted with old-growth pines created the backdrop to one of central Oregon’s best forest drives.
The Jordan Cove Energy Project is a proposal to build a 230-mile fracked gas pipeline across Southwestern Oregon and a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) export terminal in Coos Bay (map). The project, which was originally proposed over 13 years ago, has already been denied on the federal level, but was recently resurrected with the hopes that the Trump administration will greenlight the project.
Oregon has learned the hard way the excesses of the logging industry. During the last century, national forests were being clearcut at a rate of 3 square miles a week. That legacy can still be seen in struggling salmon runs, imperiled wildlife, and the devastating loss of approximately 90% of Oregon’s ancient forests.
Oregon’s old growth is usually threatened by a predictable cast of characters: timber companies like Lone Rock, organizations like the Association of O&C Counties, and politicians like Rep.'s Greg Walden and Kurt Schrader. You’d probably be surprised by another name on that list: The Oregon Department of Transportation.
Like the tributaries for Oregon's many great rivers, the paths connecting brewers and conservationists to a mutual mission of watershed advocacy began at different places but ultimately joined together to become a great force. Over the years, the pairing of environmentalism and craft beer has become more commonplace, but this non-traditional partnership has its roots here in the Pacific Northwest.
An Experience of a Lifetime
I’ve spent a lot of time in ancient forests over the past year as I work on the new guide to Oregon’s Ancient Forests. Like, a lot, a lot. The forest around Opal Creek is, hands down (and I know I'm not alone in this), one of my favorites.