Posts Tagged ‘rainforest’

Oregon Cascades Conservation: Mount Jefferson Wilderness Area

August 15th, 2011

The Cascade Mountain Range, National Parks and Wilderness Areas Of The Northwestern U.S.

Mount Jefferson, Jefferson Wilderness Area, Oregon Cascades, Oregon, copyright 1959 by Philip Hyde.

(See the photograph large: “Mount Jefferson, Jefferson Wilderness Area, Oregon Cascades.”)

The Cascade Mountain Range, a string of volcanic peaks and vertically thrust rocky crags, runs from Northern California through Oregon and Washington and into Canada. Land battles in the 1950s and 1960s over the lush forests of the Cascade Mountains in the Northwestern United States, helped shape future strategy for wilderness conservation campaigns across the nation.

As the U. S. Forest Service and the timber industry, on one side, grabbed for more trees to mill, recreationists and environmentalists, on the other side, attempted to save their beloved woodlands, river valleys and rainforests from destruction. When enough public outcry supported the protection of an area, it became a National Park such as North Cascades or Olympic National Park. However, just obtaining wilderness status for many wild areas engendered a terrific political and often legal war.

The Mount Jefferson Wilderness Area became one of the many controversies of the 1960s. Mount Jefferson is Oregon’s second highest peak (10,249 feet) behind Mount Hood (11,497) and not to be confused with the Mount Jefferson in Montana, or in Utah, or the mountain bearing Thomas Jefferson’s carved likeness in North Dakota. Mount Jefferson of the Central Oregon Cascades is surrounded by plentiful lakes, steep raging rivers and lush river valleys riddled with gold and silver mining claims, cattle grazing and thick stands of mixed conifer trees.

In 1959, after conferring on strategy and partial funding with David Brower, Executive Director of the Sierra Club, Philip Hyde hired mountaineer and wilderness guide Fred Behm as a horse packing guide. Fred Behm led Ardis and Philip Hyde by horseback pack trip into the Mount Jefferson Wilderness Area. Philip Hyde made photographs for use by the Sierra Club and local Oregon environmental groups working to attain permanent wilderness designation or national park status for the Jefferson Wilderness Area.

U.S. Forest Service’s Controversial Redrawing Of Cascades Wilderness Area Boundaries In The 1960s

Mount Jefferson Primitive Area, one of the largest in Oregon, formed in 1930. It stretched across the Deschutes, Mount Hood, and Willamette National Forests. Each of these National Forests helped manage the primitive area. Lumbering slowed significantly during the Great Depression, but took off again during and after World War II. In the Willamette National Forest, the volume of logs cut more than quadrupled between 1945 and 1955 and continued to increase for decades. The Forest Service began to reclassify many primitive areas as either multiple use or permanent wilderness without any input from locals. Frequented by hikers, fishers and small boaters, Mount Jefferson Primitive Area had some of the highest recreation levels of any wilderness in the Northwest, second in Oregon only to the Three Sisters Wilderness to the south.

In his autobiography, In The Thick of It: My Life In The Sierra Club, Michael McCloskey wrote:

In the early 1960s, the Forest Service was using its administrative powers to decide how much land it wanted to put into its new wilderness system. Wilderness areas in this system would have carefully considered boundaries and would be permanently managed as wilderness, without roads or logging. In contrast, primitive areas, which had been set aside earlier under regulations of the 1920s, allowed some roads, had boundaries drawn with little study, and were only provisional in nature. In response to pressures to better protect primitive areas, the Forest Service had decided to either reclassify them as wilderness areas or to drop the provisional protection it had accorded them.

When reclassifying the Three Sisters Wilderness, the Forest Service dropped 53,000 acres from the wilderness area. After a 25 year struggle from grass roots activist groups and conservationists, Congress finally added 45,000 of these acres back into the Three Sisters Wilderness in 1978, part of which consisted of the west side of beautiful Waldo Lake.

U.S. Forest Service Preserves ‘Everything But The Trees’ In The Mount Jefferson Wilderness

The Mount Jefferson Primitive Area ran in a long, narrow strip along the spine of the Oregon Cascade Mountains with Mount Jefferson on the north end and a peak called Three Fingered Jack on the south. In the Oregon Cascade Mountains, most of the largest and thickest timber stands in the 1960s were below 3,500 feet in elevation. Unlike the Three Sisters Wilderness Area, the Mount Jefferson Primitive Area was mainly above 3,500 feet and did not contain as much valuable timber. Kevin R. Marsh explained in Drawing Lines In The Forest: Creating Wilderness Areas In the Pacific Northwest:

Since the crux of wilderness debates in the Northwest focused mainly on valleys below 3,500 feet, the creation of the Mount Jefferson Wilderness Area out of the old primitive area focused on whether to protect from logging some of the lower forests outside the original boundaries…. In 1963, the Forest Service agreed to expand the boundaries outward east and south, adding more acreage to the protected area, but it stopped short of including the forests of the western valleys. In fact, the new boundaries would reduce the protection offered… lower-elevation forests contained in the existing primitive area and open them up to the timber sale program. By 1962, as the debate over proposed new wilderness boundaries continued, the Forest Service built a road and sold timber deep into the Whitewater Valley, close to the boundary of the primitive area…. Increasingly, the attention from all sides focused on Wildlands outside the existing boundaries of formally protected areas: the “de facto wilderness.” The Mount Jefferson debates reflected this changing aspect of wilderness debates throughout the country after passage of the Wilderness Act in 1964. The Mount Jefferson Wilderness Area has not garnered much attention from historians and others concerned with wilderness in the United States, but the Mount Jefferson debates are important because they demonstrate a new emphasis on de facto wilderness lands and on struggles over the definition of ‘wilderness.’… The Obsidians, a Eugene, Oregon hiking club, joined five other groups, including the Oregon Cascades Conservation Council, to submit a proposal to increase the size of the area…

Leapfrog Logging Keeps Old Growth Timber Wilderness In Reach Of Lumber Companies

Michael McCloskey acted as legal council and Sierra Club adviser to those working to prevent land from being cut out and removed from within the final wilderness area boundaries. In the process he carefully explored the periphery of the primitive area to see how suitable the old boundaries were. He identified the practice of “leapfrog logging,” the Forest Service tactic of trying to define future boundaries by building access roads right up to the original primitive area boundary while passing by large sections of untouched timber. The presence of the road and logging at the end of it, blocked the land from potentially being designated as wilderness. Environmentalists led by Michael McCloskey applied their own techniques to build a case for expanding the existing wilderness. Michael McCloskey described the method himself:

The technique involved sampling the core values of the area (via a backpacking trip, a horse pack trip, or an overflight); driving every road to the edge of the wilderness area; looking at every peripheral development; evaluating competing values and alternative uses of the resources found there…. People valued these areas for many reasons: to experience wild country, to see mountain scenery, to walk through old-growth forests, to hunt and fish in less crowded areas, and to simply get away from civilization.

Local Citizens Lead Grassroots Environmental Campaigns To Preserve Cascade Mountain Wilderness

People were willing to fight for these wilderness values. Kevin R. Marsh explained one reason why:

The Forest Service roads and clear cuts deep in the Whitewater Creek valley were powerful examples of why wilderness activists focused so much energy on codifying a wilderness system created and maintained by Congress. In the long run… the Wilderness Act resulted in a massive increase in the acreage of land protected as wilderness in the United States…. Following that mandate, the Forest Service reexamined the Mount Jefferson area, the first primitive area in the Cascades to undergo review under the requirements of the Wilderness Act. Expanding wilderness protection into more valuable, lower-elevation forests, however, carried too much additional cost to the industry…. The conservationists proposal would reduce the available timber supply to the local economy by eleven million board feet annually, Oregon Senator Mark Hatfield claimed, and ‘serious economic hardship  could result….’ To add the forested areas proposed by conservationists would result in the loss of six hundred jobs in the local economy, regional forester Herbert Stone claimed. As a result, the Mount Jefferson Wilderness Area, as approved by Congress in 1968, did not include the Whitewater Valley.

Even though the final boundaries of the Mount Jefferson Wilderness Area did not include the Whitewater Valley, conservationists did succeed in persuading Congress to include other expansion areas such as Marion Lake and a few other tracts of undisturbed forest.

To learn about how conservation strategy in the Cascade Mountains had national impact and to discover more on how Cascade Mountain wilderness battles helped environmentalists refine their message into the Wilderness Act see the blog post, “The Oregon Cascades’ Impact On Conservation.” Also, discover more about the protection of the Cascades Mountains in blog posts to come, particularly the creation of North Cascades National Park and the protection of Glacier Peak Wilderness, both in the state of Washington.

Denali National Park, Alaska Travel Log 6

October 12th, 2010

Denali National Park, Alaska Travel Log: June 14-September 14, 1971 by Ardis Hyde

(Ardis, David and Philip Hyde in Their Camper. Continued from the blog post, “Denali National Park, Alaska Travel Log 5.”)

Part Six: Layover In Petersburg

Abandoned Fishing Boats, Elfin Cove, Tongass National Forest, Southeast Alaska, 1971 by Philip Hyde.

(See photograph full screen Click Here.)

Sunday, June 27, 1971: We awoke to an overcast sky, yet without rain, with the sounds of birds, especially ravens in great numbers. The birds hovered, circled and gathered along a narrow, sandy beach at the high tide mark, while mud flats extended out from there. Philip set out with his 4X5 (Baby Deardorff) view camera for photographs. David made a volcano in the sand with cinders in the top made from seaweed with boulders of lava at the base. We drove on out to the road end past Depression era Civilian Conservation Corps built shelters and stopped before the dump for photographs of two Eagles on two adjoining trees, one mature and one immature. More patches of dwarf two-needle pine forest, beautiful white flowers growing in small groundwater pools and a prolific lupin. Hoards of gnats buzzing the area.

On out of town (Petersburg) on the Mitkof Highway and south along Wrangell Narrows. The highway was obviously built for logging access, a broad scar through the terrain with logging visible from the roadside. Philip took photographs of the despoliation and we ate lunch along the road. David and I napped at a stop along the Blind River while Philip made swamp photographs of dead moss festooned trees standing in the water. It looked like good moose country but no moose, or “meese” as Philip joked. The “highway” was gravel all the way. Occasionally the sun poked through. The town of Petersburg was noticeably lacking in traffic. We looked at the fish ladder on the Blind River. Drove across the Blind River on a wooden bridge. Stopped on the other side for photographs of iris and fritillary that was a dark, mottled brown. Looked at Ohmer Creek Campground (Forest Service-Tongass National Forest). Photographs of massed lupin in the meadow.

We drove into Summer Strait Campground that was unfinished but distinguished by gardens of skunk cabbage. A few fires at the water’s edge were attended by local picnickers. Philip made a photograph of a waterfall in the middle of the forest. At the end of the road we stopped for dinner and the night on the edge of Dry Strait. The tide was in when we got there and the ocean was lapping at the grassy edges of the campground. Islands in the Stikine River Mouth and snowy ridges all were visible with a nice foreground of moss-covered upturned rocks at a parallel slant. The gnats and mosquitos were bad but they did’t seem to bother David. He played outside after dinner with his cars making roads in the gravel. Then he found some gun shells and that turned him on to collecting them in three sizes and shooting them from a Nuts and Bolts gun he made. Philip and I went to sleep in the light about 10:30 pm.

Monday, June 28, 1971: We woke up late at 8:45 am, to rain and the tide going out. We started leisurely with Philip making photographs right away with the 4X5 view camera. We left the end of the road about 10:45 am. We only made it a short distance when Philip stopped to photograph again. He was after a series of cloud reflections, mud flat drainage patterns and shoreline details. All was in overcast light, but rich in beautiful forms and patterns. We progressed slowly on this stretch of road along Koknuk Flats. The low tide and view looking toward Wrangell prompted frequent picture stops. Philip photographed nearly through the lunch stop, pausing just long enough to grab a grilled cheese sandwich. It began to sprinkle before we left. The next stop was at some trees in a meadow near the Blind River for more photographs. Rain had stopped but started again. The remainder of the day we spent on the road back to town and at the waterfront area in town. Philip took a photograph of the Wickersham Ferry going through Wrangle Narrows on its way south. More intermittent rain. We ate a cornbread supper at the docks. Made a brief visit to the small museum before it closed at 4:30 pm. The town center was torn up for the construction of a new Federal Building. I put David down and then we slept ourselves about 10 pm at the Ferry Terminal to wait for the ferry arrival around midnight.

Tuesday, June 29, 1971: The Ferry Matanuska departed Petersburg at 1:00 am….

Continued in the next blog post, “Denali National Park, Alaska Travel Log 7.”

Covered Wagon Journal 5

March 11th, 2010

Covered Wagon Journal 5

Last Entry From the Summer 1955 Journal of Travels Through the Western National Parks

By Philip Hyde

(CONTINUED FROM BLOG POST, “Covered Wagon Journal 4” For an introduction to what the Covered Wagon is see “Covered Wagon Journal 1“)

Low Tide, Rialto Beach, Olympic Ocean Strip, Olympic National Park, Washington, 1955, by Philip Hyde, made on the ’55 ‘covered wagon tour’ of Western national parks and monuments.

(See the photograph full screen: Click Here.)

September 7. Olympic National Park is a true rainforest, a cool jungle, covered with a great green canopy that all but excludes the sunlight, causing the forest floor to be bathed in a soft, pervasive green glow. The forest floor is more open than you might expect. Occasionally, there are moderately long vistas down the forest aisles which give you an opportunity to gain a better perspective on the immense size of the mature spruce, hemlock, and Douglas Fir trees. At the end of the dirt road that leads east from Highway 101 to the campground on the Hoh River, a short nature trail loops around a choice sample of the forest. At one point the trail enters the Hall of Mosses. Great maples are hung with dense clumps of moss, and long streamers of moss hang down from the vines that are spun  from trunk to trunk. Here and there a rotting remnant of a tree appears but dimly, its every form-defining edge softened with a cushion of moss. Often these fallen giants are covered with legions of seedling trees—new forest life, rooted and nurtured in the old.

September 9. We are working south, tracing in reverse the westward course of the rivers fed by the great accumulation of  ice and snow on the heights of Olympus. Each of these river valleys is densely forested with the climax type of rain forest that once covered the coastal slopes from Alaska to California, and is today represented in its virgin state almost exclusively in Olympic National Park. Coming up the roads leading into the park from the highway, there is no question when you reach the park boundary. The great green curtain falls at the line, and you pass from a scene that often looks more like a battlefield than a forest, into the peace and serenity of a forest floor unmarked by the often aimless and destructive characteristic of logging operations. A picture of that line of demarcation along the western borders of Olympic National Park will always come to me when I hear loggers talk of just wanting to “take out a few of the overripe trees that will die soon anyway,” or speak of “sanitation cuts,” or “down timber salvage.”

September 10. The green cathedral of the rain forest on the East Fork of the Quinault bestows a kind of benediction on our summer’s travels. We have walked down the trail in silence, knowing that our summer wanderings are drawing to a close. But our silence is one of gratitude. After a summer in the parks, we are more aware of our great riches. The remembered beauties of those places of wonder flood over us, as our imagination takes us back to a scene described in the museum in Yellowstone. The time is 1860. A group of men are camped in the meadows by the junction of the Gibbon River and Firehole River, sitting around one of their last campfires, discussing the future of this area so full of natural wonders that they have been exploring. They have decided, at length, that it should become a preserve, set aside for the people. This was the beginning of the movement that culminated in the establishment of Yellowstone as our first national park.

Traveling through our western landscape, while being grateful for our parks and preserves, we cannot help noticing the contrast between them and the lands in between, which, increasingly, become the battlegrounds of “progress.” How fortunate we are that for all those who came to dig, chop, plow, and burn, some came who saw, and valued, and then worked to preserve. May there be enough of these, in this generation, to enable us to pass on this priceless heritage to those after us.