Climate change is the most pressing ecological issue of our time, likely to dramatically affect Mt. Hood National Forest’s ecosystems and wildlife as the crisis unfolds.
Unfortunately, when the Mt. Hood Land and Resource Management Plan was adopted in 1990, it addressed neither the potential impacts of an increasingly warmer and unstable climate on Mt. Hood National Forest’s ecosystems, nor the forest’s importance in mitigating climate change. Nor did the amendments of the 1994 Northwest Forest Plan.
The impacts of climate change on Mt. Hood’s forest, waters, and wildlife are likely to include more rain and less snow in the winter, an increase in stream temperatures, flooding, and landslide events. The forest’s ability to successfully adapt to these changes will be determined by the health of its ecosystem as a whole. That’s why we need a new forest management plan that emphasizes natural preservation and restoration over activities such as logging that destroy essential habitat and reduce the forest’s resilience.
We also need a forest management plan that recognizes Mt. Hood National Forest’s key role in mitigating climate change, rather than treating the forest primarily as a timber source.
Mt. Hood National Forest is one of the top 10 carbon storage forests in the U.S. Its trees capture and store immense quantities of carbon dioxide, preventing it from entering the atmosphere and accelerating global warming –– a benefit that is lost when those trees are cut down. Not surprisingly, a groundbreaking study by Oregon State University shows that Oregon’s logging industry releases far more carbon into the atmosphere than any other industry in the state.
With the climate change crisis becoming more urgent, it's time for a new Mt. Hood Land and Resource Management Plan that focuses on strengthening the forest to withstand ecosystem impacts and protecting the mature forests that sequester huge amounts of carbon.