Logging Project in Proposed Mount Hood Wilderness Postponed Indefinitely

Tamanawas Falls by Tula Top
Tamanawas Falls by Tula Top

A logging project that long threatened some of the most important and treasured areas on Mount Hood’s eastern flank has been put on indefinite hold!

The Polallie-Cooper project proposed logging and new road-building near the beloved Tamanawas Falls trail and in proposed Cold Spring Creek Wild & Scenic River corridor. Oregon Wild advocates who have been arguing against the Polallie-Cooper project for nearly a decade can finally breathe a sigh of relief.

The project has been split in two with the less controversial elements moving forward this year and the more concerning elements being indefinitely postponed. We applaud Forest Service leadership for this change of course. However, we will still need to remain vigilant. While the most problematic logging elements were dropped, they could be resurrected in the future, though they would have to go through a new planning process. This reconsideration is a significant victory for protecting this iconic landscape.

An Unpopular Project for a Popular Hike

On any given day you can pull up to a trailhead in the Columbia River Gorge or Mount Hood and see the enthusiasm of people out enjoying their public lands. Few places represent this energy and excitement better than the area around Tamanawas Falls. The hike to the spectacular waterfall is one of the most beloved treks on the mountain.

Unfortunately, that popularity didn’t prevent the Forest Service from pursuing projects in the area that would degrade its values. Over the years, Polallie-Cooper has been resurrected in various iterations, always including controversial elements. Among these: logging in proposed Wilderness, logging in Wild and Scenic River corridors, logging near popular trails, new road building, and logging around Crystal Springs, the water source for Hood River.

Advocates Push Back

With hard work and persistence, Oregon Wild and our supporters have spent years monitoring this project and pushing back against parts of the proposal that would degrade some of the last remaining Wilderness-quality lands on Mount Hood. We even rallied members of the Oregon Congressional delegation to weigh in, asking the Forest Service tough questions and highlighting the area’s importance to hikers, mountain bikers, and river recreationists. 

Protections Needed

The good news is that Tamanawas Falls is included in Senator Ron Wyden’s River Democracy Act. This pending Congressional legislation would add safeguards for water quality, wildlife, scenic values and more by designating Cold Springs Creek as a Wild & Scenic River. Tamanawas Falls has also been proposed as Wilderness and included in draft legislation as far back as 2004. Sadly, Congress has yet to act to protect this special place, leaving it vulnerable to proposals like Polallie-Cooper.

Until Congress acts, it is up to us to safeguard places on Mount Hood like Tamanawas Falls, and continue to advocate for their protection. We hope it will not be too long before Tamanawas Falls has a champion in Congress, perhaps the next Representative for Oregon’s 3rd District, and this area, like so many other special places on Mount Hood, will finally receive the permanent protections it deserves.

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