On March 7, 2016, U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer and U.S. Senator Ron Wyden sent a letter to Mt. Hood National Forest Supervisor Lisa Northrop, expressing serious concerns with the proposed Polallie-Copper II Timber Sale in the Crystal Springs watershed, which Congress has recognized as a valuable source of drinking water for thousands of Hood River residents. The proposal has also drawn opposition from people who enjoy the area for hiking, mountain biking, and nature watching.
While the Forest Service claims that the overarching purpose of the logging project is to try to address concerns of potential fire danger, the project includes old-growth logging and roadbuilding in the Crystal Springs. In their letter Senator Wyden and Blumenauer lay out why the project runs afoul of the protections Congress outlined for this important drinking watershed.
Ironically, full protection for the watershed and Wilderness on the North side of Mt. Hood has been delayed because the Forest Service has not yet completed the long-overdue Government Camp/Cooper Spur land exchange. Congress directed the trade be completed in 16 months, and we are now 7 years past the deadline. The House and Senate have recently held hearings on the Mount Hood Cooper Spur Land Exchange Clarification Act, requested by local citizens and and introduced by the Oregon lawmakers to expedite the Forest Service’s completion of the land exchange.
On January 6, 2016, a Federal District Court in Oregon rejected the Forest Service’s attempt to dismiss the case Crag filed for local residents challenging the agency’s failure to complete the land exchange. Crag attorney Ralph Bloemers is representing Hood River Valley Residents Committee in this case.
In their letter, Blumenauer and Wyden expressed their frustration that the Cooper Spur land exchange has not yet been finalized, delaying protection of the Crystal Springs Watershed, and noting how certain aspects of the Polallie Cooper project run counter to Congress’ direction for this important area. In addition, the lawmakers highlighted potential impacts of the project on the many highly valued recreation opportunities within the project area, which includes the Dog River Trail and several hiking trails.