Decision notice signed.
The Bear Creek project is located in the Bear Creek Watershed, Mt. Adams Ranger District, in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest and the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. The project includes:
The Conservancy is supportive of many components of this project, including efforts to restore Oregon white oak habitat, replace culverts and stormproof roads, and decommission and close unnecessary forest roads to protect water quality, fish, and wildlife. We are also supportive of thinning in true plantation stands of young, densely planted trees that are generally all of the same size, spacing, and species for the purpose of creating increased diversity and improved stand structure. According to the scoping notice, most of the Bear Creek project area includes dense stands of primarily Doug fir that are 40-50 years old, which fits that criteria.
In December 2014, we provided scoping comments to the Forest Service, expressing our overall support and also highlighting our concerns that the proposal lacked sufficient no-cut riparian buffers to protect water quality and fish habitat. We worked with the South Gifford Pinchot Collaborative and the Forest Service to ensure larger no-cut riparian buffers were included in the environmental assessment. Although we supported many components of this project, we were concerned with potential impacts the proposed thinning prescriptions would have to spotted owls. We raised these concerns to the Forest Service and collaborative group, and we agreed on a modified proposal that benefits fish and wildlife habitat, water quality, and overall forest health.