The First Thirty Years: The Beginnings of a Mountain Friendship
The story of Kate McCathy’s fascinating life is told on our website http://friendsofmounthood.org/. But how, you many wonder, did Kate and the handful of conservation groups and local individuals that became FOMH end up challenging the Federal government? How did FOMH go on to become a significant player in the conservation movement in Oregon?
For Kate, it began when she realized that the U.S. Forest Service was not doing its job managing public land on Mt. Hood.
Early in her life Kate had fallen in love with the wildflower mountain meadows on the eastern and northern slopes of Mt. Hood. In the 1980’s, her beloved meadows were under attack.
The foundation for the assault began years earlier when the U.S. Forest Service issued a Special Use Permit for a ski resort – that ulitmately became Mt. Hood Meadows. Kate was appalled upon seeing the damage now occurring to the streams, wetlands and meadows of Mt Hood.
An avid photographer, Kate had many hundreds of 35 mm slides taken over years of visits to the forests and meadows of Mt Hood. She now returned to her favorite places and started making once bubbling brooks, now eroded ditches-type photographs. She then created a slide show of hundreds of “before and after” scenes.
Then she took the show on the road.
Kate would present her slide show to any person or group that would give her the time. Her plan was simple, by raising public awareness pressure would be put on the Forest Service to stop the damage.
However, it didn’t take long before she learned that “pressuring” the biggest beast in the jungle would take more than photographs and righteousness.
Federal land regulation is an alphabet jungle of arcane rules – NEPA, EIS, EA, FONSI, NFMA, etc. – and Kate soon realized that she needed a “lion tamer” on her side. At that time there were no funds to hire an attorney to guide her through this jungle. So……if you’re looking for a lion tamer why not go to a lion tamer school?
In 1988, Kate put on her traveling slide show for a student conservation group at Lewis and Clark Law School. The Northwest Environmental Defense Center was and is a student and faculty run nonprofit with a long history of working to protect natural resources in the Pacific Northwest. Kate figured it was reasonable that law students would make likely draftees in her campaign.
But, sometimes fate intervenes, and that night one of the advisors on the NEDC Board of Directors was in the audience. Karl G. Anuta was a private practice attorney with a small law firm in Portland. “I was quite captivated and energized by Kate’s presentation,” he said. “I offered to help out.”
Kate had found her “lion tamer.”
In future Newsletters we will discuss the early efforts by FOMH to protect the natural environment of Mt. Hood. We’ll also find out how the lion tamer’s role was passed to two idealistic attorneys with a dream of creating a nonprofit law firm (CRAG Law Center) dedicated to conservation causes.
Year End News
In July, the long litigation over the downhill mountain bike facility at Timberline Lodge Ski Area concluded. In light of all the additional work that the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the U.S. Forest Service did, after we filed suit, the Federal judge upheld the Forest Service’s decision to allow construction of the bike facility infrastructure.
The long process was worthwhile, as it generated much closer attention to the project, and changes in what was originally proposed – as the agency and the ski resort scrambled to try to defend the project. Hopefully both the agency and the resort operator will learn from the experience and try to do a better job with their next proposal at Timberline, so that we don’t again end up in litigation.
There are still legal ends to tie up as will be explained soon on the FOMH website. A final summarization of the case and project will be provided once everything is officially completed.
In other news, two new members have joined the Board of Directors. Please go to the Website to learn about all the boardmembers.
The Fight is Ongoing
Some of you have been FOMH supporters from the very beginning. We thank you dearly! And, we thank everyone who has contributed to FOMH’s efforts fighting for the mountain. One fact is undeniable: The Mt. Hood of today would be very different if it was not for your support!
Looking back, we are certain that the past thirty year’s efforts have been critical in preserving the natural environment of Mt. Hood. We hope that you agree and will continue to be a Friend of Mount Hood and support FOMH with your donations!
As you know, FOMH is an entirely volunteer conservation group. There is no paid staff, rent, or overhead. We are a 501(c)3 nonprofit and all contributions are tax deductible to the full extent of the law..