Unfortunately, thousands of acres of these amazing landscapes remain unprotected-threatened by development, logging, and over-use. Protecting eligible lands as Wilderness provides the best protection for these lands.
Ringing the Mountain with Development
In 2001, Mt. Hood Meadows, a ski resort operator on Mt. Hood proposed building a destination resort on the wild Northeast side of the mountain. The Timberline Ski Area is proposing to expand its operations between it and Government Camp.
The North side of Mt. Hood remains undeveloped and pristine. The destination resort plan for the Cooper Spur area was resoundingly rejected by the public for threatening Hood River County's drinking watershed. Backcountry ski enthusiasts local residents, conservation groups and recreation clubs have banded together to promote a different vision for this special place.
The Sierra Club is working to protect for permanent protection of this area from these threats and advocating for positive solutions around the mountain.
The U.S. Forest Service actively supports extensive commercial logging in wild areas around Mt. Hood. The Forest Service is still targeting the last remaining old growth stands for logging. In 2004, more than 13,000 truckloads of timber were cut in the forest and equally extensive logging operations are planned for the future.
Logging the last wild places threatens the water quality of the streams and rivers flowing off the mountain, destroys habitat and endangers wildlife. Adding insult to injury, in 1997 the Forest Service lost over $7 million from its logging operation in the Mount Hood National Forest.
In addition, the Forest Service itself admits that there is not enough Wilderness to meet the skyrocketing public demand. More than 4 million people visited the forest in 1998. It is forecast that over 500,000 additional residents will be moving to Portland in the next twenty years. Unfortunately, the Forest Service solution is to limit public access to our National Forests by campers and hikers while encouraging the destructive practices of the timber industry.
Dams and Habitat Loss
Habitat loss and the conversion of the Columbia from a free-flowing river into a series of lakes are the greatest threat to the preservation of the Gorge's natural, cultural and scenic resources. Development pressures are eating away sensitive lands within the gorge. These pressures are coming from the Portland/ Vancouver metropolitan area as well as from small urban and rural developments to the east.
The Bonneville, The Dalles and John Day dams have presented huge obstacles to salmon migrating through the Gorge. While fish ladders provide some passage for adult salmon, the juvenile fish are faced with tepid, slow moving waters and a myriad of engineered fish passages on their way to the ocean. The federal government has spent millions of dollars on everything from barging the smolts to guiding them through a series of pipelines to aid their trip around the dam's turbines. Survival rates are nothing compared to what they were in a free-flowing Columbia.
While much of the area is protected, there are thousands of acres of private land within the Gorge that are threatened by speeding development and sprawl. Over 6,700 acres of private land could be changed forever by the construction of trophy homes, more logging, more mining, and more roadbuilding if the Forest Service is not provided federal dollars for a successful land acquisition program that to date, has preserved sensitive parcels throughout the Gorge.
Unfortunately, funding for this program has been cut by the Bush Administration, leaving Forest Service land acquisition efforts at a standstill. Fore more about the Sierra Club's work to stop sprawl in the Gorge, see our Lewis and Clark Landscapes Project website, www.lewisandclarklandscapes.org.
The Forest Service is reviewing guidelines in its management plan for the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. The plan currently prohibits clearcutting on federal forestland. No commercial logging is allowed in Open Space zones in Special Management Areas, or SMAs.
However, the Forest Service now proposes weakening the protections. Please take action today to demand that these SMA forestlands remain
For more information about the Sierra Club's Lewis and Clark campaign or to find out how you can help, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.