I live in _____ [please insert city, county, and state].
Living here, I know that Mt. Hood National Forest is a unique place and deserves your attention. I request that in the next appropriations cycle, you prioritize funding for national forest planning. Mt. Hood's management plan is outdated and the agency is ill-prepared to manage the impact of climate change. Additionally, please increase funding for the Recreation, Heritage and Wilderness line item in the Forest Service Budget. Recreation use on National Forest lands is on the rise throughout the country. In 2012 the Mt. Hood National Forest alone received just over 6 million recreation visits. Visitor use has increased exponentially over the last two decades, and the trend is projected to continue.
Despite this increase in recreational use, the funding to maintain popular recreation trails, rivers, campsites, road access, etc. has not kept pace with the demand. Facilities are deteriorating. As long as it is undertaken in an environmentally conscious manner, developing more recreation-friendly management will improve the quality & quantity of recreation opportunities. This will increase the economic benefit of National Forests. Outdoor recreation in Oregon is a major contributor to the local economy, creating 141,000 direct jobs and $12.8 billion dollars in consumer spending. Much of this recreation relies on National Forests.
The 30-year old Mt. Hood Forest Plan gives no direction on carbon sequestration or monitoring carbon lost through industrial logging. It also fails to recognize the out-sized value of recreation to local economies as compared to timber. Forest planning is a significant undertaking for an agency already facing shrinking budgets. Without increased funding, the Forest Service will not be capable of ecologically sound stewardship of the public lands, supporting the new economic reality for local communities, or maximizing carbon sequestration and storage in our nation’s largest carbon sinks.