If you’ve been part of the Oregon Wild community for any part of the last ten years – or even just the last few months – you likely remember hearing from us on Representative Earl Blumenauer’s forthcoming bill on Mount Hood. Last December we shared some of his office’s “draft concepts” for the bill, and opportunities for the public to comment on them. We are frustrated and heartbroken that despite over a decade of work towards the creation of a new vision for Mount Hood, we must oppose Rep. Blumenauer’s newly-introduced bill (the “REC Act of 2022″) as it is currently written. Sadly most of the clean water, carbon storage, and wildlife safeguards were taken out of the bill at the last minute.
There is a long history of aggressive, environmentally destructive logging across the Mount Hood National Forest, including near recreation hotspots like Tamanawas Falls, Mt. Defiance, and Boulder Lake. The Forest Service has also long struggled to balance its enthusiasm for commercial logging with the urgent need to do a better job of managing recreation and overcrowding. We worked with Rep. Blumenauer’s office for over a decade in order to find a legislative solution to address these challenges. Unfortunately, his “Mt. Hood and Columbia River Gorge Recreation Enhancement and Conservation Act of 2022” (or “Rec Act of 2022”) does not solve these problems. In fact, it may actually make them worse. Below is a short summary of the bill, but you can find more information here.
- It fails to protect special places. In December, Blumenauer proposed protecting 30,000 acres of new Wilderness from logging and development. The introduced bill slashes protections by 75%, and now fails to address the urgent threat of logging to Tamanawas Falls and the east-side of Mount Hood.
- The National Recreation Area could encourage more logging. His bill leaves in place existing weak logging rules and even adds new justifications for logging, including commercial logging projects to improve the “…scenic character…” of Mount Hood.
- The Pacific Crest Trail Corridor was initially envisioned as a protected no-logging buffer along the trail. That was gutted and the remaining language is mostly just symbolic.
- No meaningful protection for mature and old-growth forests and the carbon storage they provide.
We’re still analyzing the text of a bill that was just released and there are other concepts in the bill that may be worthy of support, like better transportation planning and equitable recreation access, co-management of tribally-important lands with the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, and commitments to reforming safety and transportation around the mountain. But while laudable, these elements do not outweigh the harm from the bill’s heavy logging focus.
Time and again, Mount Hood advocates like you have told Representative Blumenauer that the mountain needs stronger environmental protections, better recreation management, and less focus on commercial logging. We need to tell him, and Senators Wyden and Merkley, that this bill is so far off the mark that it doesn’t deserve our support.
Will you join us in contacting Oregon’s members of Congress to tell them that you want special places on Mount Hood protected, not logged?