December 2022



Over the past year, Friends of Mount Hood has continued its thirty-five year mission of protecting our beautiful mountain by monitoring the activities of the Forest Service (USFS) and the largest federal permit holders. There have been few development proposals in the year probably due to a general slow down in this time of COVID.

Land Exchange

The Cooper Spur/Government Camp land exchange continues to be the top priority of Friends of Mount Hood. You may recall that the original “Clean Sweep” land exchange settlement with Mt. Hood Meadows (MHM), the County, and the USFS involved two tracts of undeveloped federal land at Government Camp on the South side in exchange for the bulk of the federal land on the North side where MHM operates their Cooper Spur Resort. The proposal allowed for private resort-like development at Government Camp, but maintained the status quo at Cooper Spur so there would not be an oversized resort development negatively impacting Mount Hood and the Hood River valley.

However, when the USFS finally issued a draft and then final Record of Decision (ROD) on the proposed exchange, the outcome was not what anyone expected. The Mt. Hood National Forest Supervisor changed so much of what was originally proposed that we were left with no option but to contest the decision.

The ROD removed one of the two tracts on the South side, and in order to compensate for less land the ROD allowed MHM to retain more land on the North side. The result is MHM has land to construct housing and condos at Government Camp, and they also have enough land to resume their goal of building a large destination resort at Cooper Spur. Twenty years of work to reach a compromise on what was to be the future of Mount Hood’s North side was thrown out the window.

We are partnered with several other groups under the name Cooper Spur Wild and Free Coalition. A member group, Thrive Hood River, has the point on litigation. They filed the lawsuit in Federal Court at the end of December. Friends of Mount Hood is a named party in the case, and is actively supporting the return to the agreed upon Clean Sweep.

We have high hopes that the original proposed exchange, which while not perfect was a solution that the involved parties could live with, can still be implemented. If we can do so, Mount Hood’s North side would finally have the protection it deserves. However, the next chapter will play out in the U.S. Federal District Court.

Other Work

During 2022, Friends of Mount Hood monitored and officially commented on other projects that were proposed to the USFS by the operators at Timberline, Ski Bowl, and MHM ski resorts. 

Timberline has an ongoing set of plans and some proposals to connect the Lodge ski area with Summit Ski Area at Government Camp (which Timberline now owns). We anticipate continuing to comment on those projects as they arise.

On the North side at MHM, they are in the process of replacing lifts and building summer hiking trails. The new Sahale Lodge opened this winter. MHM is also now making use of the Twilight parking lot on overflow days.

Whitebark Pine

One of the highlights of our Mountain is the iconic whitebark pine. This important keystone species thrives at the highest elevations on Mount Hood, and is famous for how it is able to survive in the harshest of conditions. At the alpine level the tree is called “krummholz” (twisted wood) as it hugs the ground for protection from the wind and is forced into contorted shapes.

The whitebark has been studied for years due to decades of loss due to invasive fungus, pine beetles, and climate change. And, finally, the whitebark has recently been listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as threatened under the Endangered Species  Act.

The Bend Bulletin has an informative story on the pine at: article_0903d452-7be9-11ed-af64-8f0289768119.html

This is exciting news for Friends of Mount Hood as our founder, Kate McCarthy, fought for years to protect the krummholz pines. She lovingly photographed them over the years, and never missed an opportunity to show her photos and educate the public on the importance of this species.

Without doubt, Kate’s years of campaigning played a role in the listing, and Friends of Mount Hood plans to use the ESA to ensure that the pine will survive and thrive in its high altitude habitat. We are formulating plans on how we can work with the USFS and the Ski Resort operators to ensure the future of the whitebark.

The Coming Year

Litigation over the land exchange means a need to cover the expense of attorneys and associated costs. In 2022, we took a break from asking for donations from the loyal supporters of Friends of Mount Hood. In the coming year, we will report on the progress of the litigation, and, inevitably, we will again ask for your support. We hope that you will continue to partner with us in this important work by donating to Friends of Mount Hood.

As has been the case since 1988, Friends of Mount Hood is a volunteer conservation group with 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.

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