Proposed logging project in Mt. Hood National Forest will do mor - KPTV - FOX 12

Proposed logging project in Mt. Hood National Forest will do more harm, critics say

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MT. HOOD NATIONAL FOREST, OR (KPTV) -

The U.S. Forest Service is floating a proposal to allow logging on a chunk of the Mt. Hood National Forest roughly the size of Manhattan.

The agency said the project, called the Crystal Clear Restoration Project, is designed to increase the area's resistance to wildfire, but critics believe it will do more harm than good.

"It's 13,000 acres. Much of that is mature, undisturbed forest. All of it is in critical habitat for the spotted owl," said Courtney Rae, whose environmental watchdog group "BARK" opposes the project. "Logging that area is degrading those ecological values, and the White River watershed as well will be impacted."

But Casey Gatz, a Natural Resources Planner at the Hood River Ranger District, said years of fire suppression have allowed fuels like small trees and underbrush to build up in the area, making it vulnerable to a significant wildfire.

Gatz said the logging will be a thinning operation rather than a clear cut, with primarily smaller trees selected for cutting.

"We're not going to be going in there and cutting the largest trees first. We're going to be really leaving the largest trees there," said Gatz.

Gatz admits providing wood products for local economies is part of the purpose of the project, but said the benefits from thinning will make the forest healthier.

Critics like Rae, however, remain skeptical.

"It's mature and undisturbed forest, it's within its fire regime, and ecologically it's sound and stable," said Rae. "This area doesn't need to be logged at all."

The project is currently still in its early stages.

Fish and Wildlife Biologists are in the process of reviewing the potential effects on threatened and endangered species, and the public will have a chance to provide comments and feedback over the coming weeks and months.

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