Cascade Forest Conservancy History | Protecting Forests Since 1985
On January 19, forest activists in Southwest Washington unite under the name Gifford Pinchot Task Force to participate in forest management decisions, advocate for the conservation of critical natural resources, and help protect the newly-created Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument.
The Task Force begins developing a “Citizens’ Alternative” to the Gifford Pinchot National Forest (GPNF) Forest Management Plan and presents it to the GPNF in July. It includes plans for and prioritizes Wild & Scenic Rivers, riparian corridors, protected trails, roadless areas, and spotted owl habitat. In the next year, the GPNF begins using concepts from this plan in their management practices.
The Lewis Thin Sale is an example of timber sales that crossed trails with cutting units or bisected trails with roads, creating fragmented trails. Warning signs were posted for hikers on the Lewis River Trail #31 that they would be encountering industrial activity along their route. Task Force used the sale to push the “inviolate trails” concept in the GP Forest Plan. The Forest Service transferred the concept to Level 1-2-3 trails in the Forest Plan.
Along the Lewis River trail are danger signs posted due to the 1985 Lewis Thin Sale.
A Forest Trails Plan is submitted by the Task Force to the GPNF containing a proposal for a new trails system paralleling the four rivers that we proposed for Wild & Scenic designation.
The Task Force begins to appeal harmful timber sales and continued to do so throughout the 1990’s.
As part of our work with the Washington Ancient Forest Alliance, the Task Force forms GPNF district-based groups to conduct groundtruthing, develop maps, sponsor hikes, and do outreach in local communities.
Just prior to our fifth anniversary, we realized our initial plans for a temporary campaign on the GPNF were naïve, and the Task Force held its first “official” business meeting where the first Directors were elected and steps were taken to incorporate as a non-profit.
The Task Force contributes significantly to a bill to create a National Ancient Forest Reserve System, including hiking the Big Hollow Trail in the GPNF with the bill’s sponsor, Congressman Jim Jontz, from Indiana. Although the bill was never made into law, it significantly raised awareness about ancient forest issues and contributed to the defeat of Senator Packwood’s attempt to weaken the Endangered Species Act.
Ancient forest mapping with Bob Pearson.
The Task Force launches a major campaign to protect the Siouxon Roadless Area from two timber sales which would have added 26 miles of new roads to the area.
The Task Force and the Northwest Rivers Council fight to stop hydropower projects on Canyon Creek, tributaries to the Cispus and Cowlitz Rivers, Siouxon and North Fork Siouxon Creeks, and four tributaries to the upper Lewis River. All of the projects were eventually halted.
The Task Force ramps up activity as details of the Northwest Forest Plan are revealed that include targeting of the GPNF for a large portion of the timber to be produced in the region (about 60 million board feet); 50% of GPNF’s remaining ancient forest is slated for logging.
The Task Force partners with the community of Randle in the successful fight to prevent ancient forests at Fossil Creek and roadless areas at Watch Mountain from being traded to Plum Creek Timber Company.
1996 Plum Creek Land Exchange.
In December of 1996, the Gifford Pinchot Task Force is incorporated as a non-profit corporation in the State of Washington.
In March of 1997, the Task Force is recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) tax-deductible organization.
Thanks to the Task Force’s efforts over the next decade, no further old growth timber sales are successfully executed, ending an era of irresponsible timber harvest aimed at our ancient forests.
The Task Force’s management plan for the 144,00 acre Cispus Adaptive Management Area (AMA) reduces logging in the AMA by ten million board feet each year to more sustainable levels.
The Task Force hires Susan Jane Brown as its first paid staff and Executive Director.
Susan Jane Brown is featured in the Columbian. Read the full article about the Northwest Forest Plan here.
The boundary line for the Alpha-Omega Timber Sale in 2002.
The Task Force stops thousands of acres of ancient forest logging near Mt. Adams and the Lewis River.
A campaign that includes grassroots outreach, coalition work, and litigation by the Task Force to stop the Alpha-Omega timber sale is successful. It changes a five-part, 1,882 acre sale that would have eliminated significant sections of ancient forest to a 684 acre thinning project which included no ancient forest logging.
Seeking stable, long-term solutions, the Task Force brings together conservationists, rural community leaders, economic development interests, union leaders, tribal representatives, local loggers and others to form the Pinchot Partners collaborative group in the Cowlitz Valley. They work to identify practical and action-oriented forest management strategies that would restore ecosystems while creating quality, local jobs.
“Common ground on the spotted owl wars,” an article by the Capital Press, encompasses the Task Force focus on forest health, working withrural communities on strategies and restoration projects for forest and watershed health.
The Task Force promotes Emily Platt from Outreach Coordinator to Executive Director.
In the precedent-setting case Gifford Pinchot Task Force v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Ninth Circuit held that the Fish and Wildlife Service must consider the effect of critical habitat modification on species recovery as well as species survival, and the availability of late successional reserve (LSR) habitat is not an adequate substitute for designated critical habitat.
Expanding our work into supporting innovative conservation approaches in Oregon, the Task Force begins working with the Clackamas Stewardship Partners, Blue Mountain Forest Partners, Columbia Gorge Scenic Area partners, and Josephine County Stewardship Group.
With the mission of outlining a strategic restoration program for the GPNF, the Task Force publishes Restoring Volcano Country: A Plan for the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. The publication designates priority restoration areas, restoration activities, and policy initiatives that will help focus efforts to enhance fish and wildlife habitat and to maintain economic opportunities for rural communities.
After an exhaustive three year campaign led by the Task Force including the recruitment of local citizens; city, county and state government officials; media coverage; and the generation of over 40,000 comment letters in opposition, the Bureau of Land Management denied General Moly Incorporated the opportunity to develop a 3,000 acre copper mine just northeast of the crater of Mount St. Helens.
The Iron Creek Watershed Restoration Project, initiated by the Pinchot Partners and the Task Force in 2004, is completed, removing 2 miles of road that was failing and in danger of destroying important fish habitat. The projected created about 350 hours of employment at $27-$45/hour.
In a sign of the evolution of the relationship between the Task Force and the Forest Service, GPNF Supervisor Claire Lavendel accepts the Bigfoot Award at the Task Force’s membership event for the significant positive impact she has had in the area.
The Clackamas Stewardship Partners’ success at collaborating led to national recognition from the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) Chief Gail Kimbell and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Chief Arlen Lancaster for our “outstanding partnerships in forest conservation work.
Emily Platt, Executive Director, leads a group through the National Forest.
With the guidance of the Task Force-led Clackamas Stewardship Partners, the Clackamas River Ranger District on the Mt. Hood National Forest agreed to remove 117 miles of road in the Upper Clackamas watershed. This investment resulted in the creation of family-wage jobs, the restoration of fish and wildlife habitat, and the protection of community drinking water.
After 10 years of advocacy by the Task Force and other partners, Hemlock Dam is removed from Trout Creek in the Wind River watershed, creating one of the few watersheds in the Columbia River basin that is entirely free-flowing from its source to its confluence with the Columbia River. The project provided high quality jobs to two local construction crews and restored 6 miles of steelhead habitat.
The Washington Watershed Restoration Initiative, of which the Task Force is a member, received a Rise to the Future award from the Forest Service. The award honors the coalition’s success in raising awareness of the detrimental impacts of National Forest roads on watershed health and fish and wildlife habitat.
Task Force Executive Director Emily Platt is honored by 1000 Friends of Oregon as one of the state’s 35 top innovators under 35 years old.
The ambitious Plantation Restoration Program, a 1,700 acre restoration project planned by the Pinchot Partners with Task Force leadership, is approved by the GPNF. It features 22 miles of road removal, and will create years of stable restoration work while restoring habitat for wildlife ranging from mollusks to owls.
The Task Force hires Bill Weiler as Executive Director.
The Task Force launched the Young Friends of the Forest pilot project, giving students the opportunity to take part in real conservation projects in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. This work offers young people new opportunities to understand and connect with nature, while fostering a lasting sense of stewardship.
Young Friends of the Forest at work.
The Task Force hires Bob Dingethal as Executive Director.
To provide a vision for the restoration of Mt. Hood, the Task Force published Wy’East Restored: A Plan to Restore Mt. Hood National Forest. The report highlights strategies to preserve large areas of connected, intact habitat, as well as opportunities to improve terrestrial and aquatic habitat throughout the forest.
The Condit dam removal process is completed, restoring 33 miles of steelhead habitat and 14 miles of chinook habitat on the White Salmon River, after many years of advocacy from The Task Force and partners.
In early 2012, the Task Force entered into a settlement agreement with the Forest Service to protect important bull trout habitat from logging and road building activities in the Muddy River and Swift River watersheds. The agreement resulted in a reduction of riparian thinning and the elimination of five temporary stream crossings.
The Task Force watches as the water level drops after the Conduit Dam is breached.
In partnership with the South Gifford Pinchot Collaborative, the Task Force completed the environmental analysis for the road restoration and meadow enhancement portions of the Cave Bear Watershed Restoration Project in September 2013. As part of the project, the Forest Service will conduct road improvements to improve fish passage, place boulders to protect meadow and riparian habitats, decommission approximately eight miles of road, close and stabilize approximately four miles of road, and enhance eleven meadows for wildlife.
In the Spring of 2014, the Task Force entered into a settlement agreement with the State of WA to protect the Western Yacolt Burn State Forest from illegal off-road-vehicle (ORV) activity. The agreement requires abandonment of unauthorized ORV trails, moving proposed ORV trails away from hiking trails, and better education and enforcement to prevent illegal activity.
In Gifford Pinchot Task Force v. Perez, the Task Force won a significant legal victory when a district court judge ruled that federal agencies’ approval of the Goat Mountain mining exploration project violated numerous environmental laws. The proposed project would have permitted extensive hardrock mining operations on 900 acres of public lands just outside of Mt. St. Helens National Monument, the Tumwater Inventoried Roadless Area, and the Green River.
The Task Force launched the Gifford Pinchot Stewards (GPS) program and officially kicked off the Young Friends of the Forest program, both aimed at collecting valuable data for the Forest Service and other projects while connecting our community to the wonders of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.
The Task Force hires Matt Little as Executive Director.
The Task Force celebrates its 30th Anniversary!
A three-year strategic plan is developed that focuses on promoting a forest that is sustainable and resilient to the effects of climate change. It promotes a scientific approach to watershed management, while protecting the most sensitive species and habitats. The plan also seeks to grow the capacity of the Task Force to meet these goals.
A very successful 30th Anniversary Banquet & Auction is held at the Portland Patagonia Store, raising over $40,000 for conservation.
Through comments on the Swift Thin timber sale, the Task Force was able to increase no cut stream buffers to 100-160 feet, reduce temporary roads and at least six stream crossings, protect forests adjacent to Trapper Creek Wilderness, drop two units proposed for clearcutting and provide thinning on a third, clarify definitions of 2-acre patches in older growth forests, and protect Spotted Owls by reducing logging intensity in owl breeding areas.
The Task Force launches a new name — the Cascade Forest Conservancy — and branding to connect to new audiences. The mission remains the same.
Through collaboration and comments on the Silver Creek timber sale, the Cascade Forest Conservancy was successful in dropping 33 acres of mature forest proposed for clear-cutting, protecting spotted owl and marbled murrelet habitat, increasing riparian no-cut buffers, and increasing the minimum canopy cover for regeneration harvest units.
In August the Forest Service released a draft Decision Notice allowing exploratory drilling in the Green River valley. CFC submitted an objection letter in response outlining our opposition to the project.
Launched the Beaver Reintroduction Project with the Cowlitz Indian Tribe in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, as one natural solution to mitigate the effects of climate change in the region.
Upper White timber sale decision was signed February 2018. Through comments and our involvement in the South Gifford Pinchot Collaborative, the final decision reduced negative impacts by eliminating three miles of temporary roads, three stream crossings, and 126 acres of unhealthy timber harvest.
The Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management approved permits that would allow exploratory mining in the Green River valley near Mount St. Helens; CFC and partners called for permanent protections for this area. Learn more here.
A 2018-2020 Strategic Plan is created that continues the work on climate change resilience, connecting people to nature, and protecting special places.
Worked successfully with South Gifford Pinchot Collaborative to develop zones of agreement for healthier forest management, and began working with the Pinchot Partners to create a similar agreement on issues ranging from riparian thinning to road management.
CFC’s Young Friends of the Forest program grew into a partnership involving over a dozen schools in Washington and Oregon, giving youth a chance to explore and restore the forests and conduct useful science projects in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.
Stopped a damaging administrative road from being built across the ecologically-sensitive pumice plain just South of Spirit Lake in the Mount St. Helens National Monument, and instead worked with the agencies to find less destructive options to access the area and find solutions to Spirit Lake’s outflow issues.