Friends of Mount Hood
November 2006 Newsletter
Message from Kate McCarthy, founder of Friends of Mount Hood and Chairperson Emerita
As usual, there is much to report as Mt. Hood continues in the spotlight.
First we want to remind you of our Friends of Mt. Hood (FOMH) Annual Meeting on November 16 at 7 pm at the Mazama Clubroom at 909 NW 19th, Portland. We hope to see you there. Please come and bring a friend.
Most importantly, we wish to thank Congressmen Earl Blumenauer and Greg Walden for their years of work on the bipartisan “Mt. Hood Stewardship Legacy Act” (HR 5025) which passed the House of Representatives unanimously in July.
We also want to thank Senators Gordon Smith and Ron Wyden for their work in introducing the “Lewis and Clark, Mt. Hood Wilderness Act” (SB 5854) in September.
We had high hopes for the reconciliation of the two bills and passage in the Senate during the last session. But this did not happen. However, these legislators assure us the issue is not dead and that they are working on it.
We will have maps and discussion of these two bills at our Annual Meeting.
We will also have a presentation on the issues and concerns with salting and other current issues at Mt. Hood Meadows. Again, please join us November 16. We need your support.
CURRENT ISSUES AT MOUNT HOOD MEADOWS
On the issues of parking expansion and snowmaking, Dave Riley, General Manager of Mt. Hood Meadows, suggested we try mediation as possibly a better solution for working out differences than going to court. We decided, in good conscience, it would be better to give it a try, than to walk away and say “no.” We’ve had several two-day sessions with an excellent mediator. It’s been interesting, but the issues are hard, and we aren’t sure yet of the result. We have another mediation session at the end of November.
If only Mother Nature would take care of bountiful snow on Mt. Hood as in the past, but maybe that is not to be.
Some have asked why Friends of Mt. Hood places emphasis on Mt. Hood Meadows when other areas of the mountain need attention as well. FOMH does care about the whole mountain. We have opposed projects at other areas, such as the cement slide at Ski Bowl, and more recently, the new lift at Timberline. This lift fragments the outstanding mountain forest. The bottom terminal is in a sensitive area of wetlands and is too close to a stream. Also the location of the ski runs conflict with the historic use of the West Leg Road Nordic trail. In addition, the low elevation of the bottom part of the runs may not work well with global warming. We opposed this lift with extensive comments to the Forest Service, but it is being built, much to our dismay.
But to answer the question of why the emphasis on Mt. Hood Meadows? Mt. Hood Meadows concentrates our attention with the extent of their ever continuing program of expansion and the consequent serious damage to the mountain. What other Mt. Hood ski area brags about building five new lifts in six years and all this added to already extensive development.
Damage from the impacts of development at Meadows is of particular concern because the ski area is located in possibly the most sensitive and resource rich area on the mountain. It is the only extensive meadow area on the Timberline Trail in over halfway around the mountain on the east side. It is much too rare and important to be considered a sacrifice area for skiing.
Its extensive interconnected system of important wetlands, its many clear and unglaciated flower-bordered streams, its waterfalls, its great variety of alpine meadows, all gave the area great beauty and resource values.
In years past, I camped for days at a time in the once spectacular “Glacier Meadows” that became Meadows ski area. I know the damage that has been done. Bulldozers, chainsaws, and blasting powder have damaged the mountain. Subalpine meadows and forests have been stripped bare and recontoured for ski runs. Ridges have been blasted and reshaped and mountain streams clogged with logs. Acres of wetlands have been buried under many feet of fill disrupting the hydrology.
In the beginning the Forest Service was reluctant to base a ski area here. Further concern was expressed by Forest Service biologist Kirk Horn in 1976 when the ski area was developed to a capacity of 4,000 people-at-one-time (PAOT): “Based on soils, hydrologic, vegetative, zoologic and possibly visual management data, the land base in the permit area was not suited for the development of the existing ski facility. The same updated management data suggests the same land base is not suited for expansion of the facility — especially year-around use.”
So you can understand our concern with the present Master Plan which allows up to 13,900 people-at-one-time (PAOT), and summer use. Also of concern, it allows a mountain restaurant with a 1000 person capacity next to the Timberline Trail. (This must never happen.)
All this cannot be fairly considered an environmentally friendly approach to the protection of Mt. Hood that the Forest Service has proclaimed with pride in recent newspaper articles.
Over the last 30 years, we have documented serious extensive damage to this important resource from continuing ski area expansion.
Friends of Mt. Hood maintains that though the population may be growing, Mt. Hood is not growing. We must learn to live with limits, not over-reaching expansion fueled by mass-market promotion.
With the threat of global warming, melting glaciers, and uncertain snowpacks, we must scale back rather than expand our over-ambitious dreams and demands on the mountain.
We have been very appreciative of the strong support we have received from all of you in the past. We are hopeful you will continue tosupport our work by your generous contributions.
FRIENDS OF MOUNT HOOD will continue “the good fight” for the conservation of our beautiful mountain. Every day is a new challenge in protecting the mountain.
Please help us continue this important fight to protect Mt. Hood by your continued generous support. Thank you!
Kate McCarthy, P.O. Box 293, Mt. Hood, OR 97041
We urge you to write or call members of the Oregon congressional delegation to request their support for expanded wilderness protection in the Mt. Hood National Forest.