Category Archives: Mt. Hood National Forest

Updated: National Get Outdoors Day in Vancouver, WA June 8

Smokey Bear greets attendees during the National Get Outdoors Day event at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site in a June 10, 2017 file photo. USDA Forest Service photo.

VANCOUVER, Wash. (May 29, 2019) –  Experience free outdoor activities and family fun at the annual National Get Outdoors Day event Sat. June 8, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site.

Climb a rock wall, learn to shoot a bow and arrow, catch a fish, play soccer, experience disc golf, listen to live music, and more with activities suitable for children and families!

Learn more about how Pacific Northwest residents experienced the outdoors 180 years ago through a living history exhibit of a Hudson Bay Company fur trader encampment at Fort Vancouver. Costumed re-enactors will demonstrate cooking, crafts, games, dances, music, and weaponry from the 1840s, and host activities for participants to experience elements of that era first-hand.

Get Outdoors Day at the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site brings more than 35 land management agencies, non-profits, and outdoor-based businesses to introduce the public to fun outdoor activities.

Booths and food vendors will be lined along East 5th St., to the west of Pearson Air Museum.

“We love working with all of these partners at Get Outdoors Day to help encourage kids and families to experience their public lands,” Gifford Pinchot National Forest Acting Supervisor Angie Elam said.

“Get Outdoors Day brings together multiple agencies and organizations to provide a lively event full of activities and opportunities that embrace the health benefits that outdoor recreation provides,” Fort Vancouver Superintendent Tracy Fortmann said. “As an urban national park, Fort Vancouver NHS serves as an ideal gateway to national parks, forests, trails, and other public lands.”

During the event, the Friends of Fort Vancouver will host two lectures at the Fort Vancouver Visitor Center (1501 E Evergreen Blvd., Vancouver, WA).

  • From 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., Native American artist Lillian Pitt shares stories of the Columbia River People with children from “Salmon and Coyote Tell my Family Stories.”
  • From 2-3 p.m., Volcanologist and author Dr. Kevin Scott presents “The Voice of This Stone: Learning from Volcanic Disasters Around the World.” For more information visit: https://tinyurl.com/getoutdoorsvancouver.

New this year: From noon-2 p.m.Repair Clark County will be at Pearson Field Education Center, located next door to the activities at Fort Vancouver, will promote conservation by helping local residents repair damaged items, including outdoors gear and accessories. Skilled volunteers will donate their expertise and labor to help repair participant’s broken or damaged goods. For more info, visit: www.RepairClarkCounty.org.

National Get Outdoors Day is a national free event that encourages everyone, especially youth, to pursue healthy, active outdoor lifestyles – including experiences in our parks, forests, wildlife refuges, and other public lands and waters.

The Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Mt. Hood National Forests, Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area, Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, City of Vancouver, Parks Foundation of Clark County and other public, private, and non-profit groups partner together to present the annual event for residents of the greater Portland, Ore. and southwestern Washington metropolitan areas. 

Participating groups and activities include:

Bluegrass jam
Audubon Society
Bonneville Lock & Dam
City of Vancouver
Vancouver Parks & Recreation
Vancouver Urban Forestry
Water Resource Education Center
Vive Northwest
C-Tran
Fort Vancouver National Historic Site
Friends of Trees
Hike it Baby
Gifford Pinchot National Forest
Master Gardeners
Friends of Fort Vancouver
Girl Scouts of OR & SW WA
National Wildlife Federation
Mount St. Helens Institute
Mt. Hood National Forest
Pacific Crest Trail Association
Quick Start Sports
Cascade Forest Conservancy
Silver Star Search & Rescue
Timber Lake Jobs Corps
SW WA Anglers
Kids Hiking
WA Trails Association
US Fish & Wildlife Service – National Wildlife Refuges
USDA Forest Service – Fire & Aviation
WA Dept. of Fish & Wildlife
Columbia River Gorge Nat’l Scenic Area
Glen’s Hands-On Gizmos
WA Timbers Football Club
Oregon Caves National Monument
OMSI (Oregon Museum of Science & Industry)
Ultimate Hunt
Backcountry Horsemen
Fishing
Pokemon Go
Urban Abundance
Waste Connections
Confluence Project

Visitors stroll exhibitor booths at the 2016 Get Outdoors Day event at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site June 11, 2016. USDA Forest Service file photo.
Visitors stroll exhibitor booths at the 2016 Get Outdoors Day event at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site June 11, 2016. USDA Forest Service file photo.

Source information: Gifford Pinchot National Forest (press release)

In the News: How to summit Mt. Hood safely

View of Mt. Hood from Timothy Lake with hillside trees and forest in the foreground, Mt Hood National Forest, Jan. 18, 2018. USDA Forest Service photo.

We talk a lot about the 10 Outdoor Essentials here at Your Northwest Forests, and there’s a reason for it- again and again, we’ve seen that when the unexpected occurs, just a little preparation can make the difference between an uncomfortable experience and a life-threatening emergency.

That goes even more so for technical climbing, such as the increasingly popular snow- and ice- covered climbs approaching the summit of mountains located just beyond the Pacific Northwest’s urban areas, like Mt. Rainier and Mt. Hood.

This KGW-TV story, produced with assistance from volunteers from Portland Mountain Rescue, does a great job showing why the mountain appeals to so many – and why such climbs are so dangerous, even when many other visitors seem to be using the same route and summer weather is imminent.

Full story, via KGW.com: https://www.kgw.com/article/news/local/key-safety-tips-for-climbing-mount-hood/283-bd294b2f-8499-4127-9863-dacc1887936e

Free youth fishing clinics May 18, June 1 on Mt. Hood NF

A group of people stands at the edge of a pond, fishing.

SANDY, Ore. (May 7, 2019) The Mt. Hood National Forest will host its annual Youth Fishing clinics May 18, 2019 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the Hood River Ranger District and June 1, 2019 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the Clackamas River Ranger District.

The May 18 clinic will be offered at the Middle Fork Irrigation Pond on Laurance Lake Rd., in Parkdale, Ore. This clinic designed for children 11 and under, although older teens, young adults, and parents are also invited to participate.

The June 1 clinic will be offered at the Small Fry Pond at North Fork Reservoir, located 7 miles south of Estacada, Ore. on Oregon Route 224. This clinic is intended for children 17 and under. Young adults and parents are also welcome.

Children attending the clinics will have the opportunity to fish with an expert angler and learn how to cast. Both clinics will include a wide array of activities, such as fish-related arts and crafts, fly-tying, a fishing derby, and other games with prizes donated by local businesses.

Educational displays will teach youth about the salmon life cycle and anatomy, aquatic insects, watersheds and aquatic ecosystems.

Refreshments will also be available at both events, courtesy of local businesses and partners!

“While this fun family event is an opportunity for kids to try their hand at fishing it also gets them outdoors where they can learn firsthand about fish and the importance of taking care of water resources,” Jane Dalgliesh, Fish Biologist for the Mt. Hood National Forest, said.

Children should bring lunch, warm clothing, a rod and reel if possible, and a cooler to bring home their catch of the day.

Limited quantities of rods and reels will be available for participants to use. Bait will be provided.

Please note: Children ages 13 and under must be accompanied by an adult. Also, an Oregon State fishing license is required for partipants ages 12 years and older in order to fish, and must be purchased from the state or an authorized vendor prior to the event; fishing licenses will not be available for purchase at the clinic.

These clinics are being conducted by the Mt. Hood National Forest, in cooperation with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Trout Unlimited, USFWS, and the Middle Fork Irrigation District.

For more information, interested participants may contact:

  • Jane Dalgliesh (June 1 event); at (503) 630-8801
  • Caitlin Scott (May 1 event); at (541) 352-1221

For even more national forest and forestry-related activities and events, check out our Your Northwest Forests calendar!


Source information: USDA Forest Service – Mt. Hood National Forest (press release)

Field Notes: Taking a closer look at nature

Two damselflies, perched on a blade of grass at a pond outside the Columbia River Gorge Discovery Center, during the summer of 2017. "There's a lot of bug action in the spring and summer," Ron Kikel, an information assistant for the Mt. Hood National Forest and amateur nature photographer, said. Courtesy photo by Ron Kikel, used with permission.

Ron Kikel is a bird man. And an ant man. And a wasp guy. Those aren’t his superhero aliases – they’re descriptions of just some of his work as a conservation education specialist for the Mt. Hood National Forest.

But, Kikel is probably best known as the “owl guy.”

Meet Jack.

Jack, a 12-year old Great Horned Owl, is blind in one eye. He was rescued and rehabilitated by staff at the Rowena Wildlife Clinic, which trains disabled raptors for use providing wildlife education. Courtesy photo provided by Ron Kikel (used with permission).
Jack, a 12-year old Great Horned Owl, is blind in one eye. He was rescued and rehabilitated by staff at the Rowena Wildlife Clinic, which trains disabled raptors for use providing wildlife education. Courtesy photo provided by Ron Kikel (used with permission).

Jack is a 12-year old Great Horned Owl. He’s also blind in one eye. Jack was rescued after tangling with some barbed wire, and rehabilitated several years ago by the Rowena Wildlife Clinic, which partners with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to care for disabled raptors and trains them for use in educational settings.

Kikel met Jack in 2010, at a Wild for Wildlife event. Jack was working with his caretaker, Dr. Jean Cypher, at the time to provide conservation education to students. Kikel was doing similar work for the Forest Service, using a taxidermied owl as a prop.

Their encounter inspired Kikel to pursue training to become a raptor handler, himself.

 
Jack, a disabled Great Horned Owl, assists Ron Kikel, an Information Assistant on the Mt. Hood National Forest and trained raptor handler, with providing conservation education talks around the region. Courtesy photo provided by Ron Kikel (used with permission).

Jack, a disabled Great Horned Owl, assists Ron Kikel, an Information Assistant on the Mt. Hood National Forest and trained raptor handler, with providing conservation education talks around the region. Courtesy photo provided by Ron Kikel (used with permission).

“With taxidermy, you are mostly talking about anatomy. Kids ask a lot of questions about where the bird came from, sometimes it gets a little off-track,” he said. “Show them the live owl, and you have their attention for at 30 minutes, at least.”

These days, Jack and Kikel work as a team to provide conservation education at schools and public events located near Kikel’s “home base” at the Hood River Ranger District in Parkdale, Oregon.

 
Jack the Great Horned Owl poses with Ron Kikel, an Information Assistant on the Mt. Hood National Forest and trained raptor handler. For the past few years, the pair have worked as a team to provide conservation education for classrooms and community groups around their area.  Courtesy photo provided by Ron Kikel (used with permission).

Jack the Great Horned Owl poses with Ron Kikel, an Information Assistant on the Mt. Hood National Forest and trained raptor handler. For the past few years, the pair have worked as a team to provide conservation education for classrooms and community groups around their area. Courtesy photo provided by Ron Kikel (used with permission).

Sometimes, Jack even joins him at the ranger station’s front desk, where Kikel provides visitor information and the owl has his own perch.

“He’s a star. Everyone likes him a lot,” Kikel said. “He’s probably the best coworker I’ve ever had.”

"This is a hoverfly, I found him on a sunflower last summer," Ron Kikel, an information assistant for Hood River Ranger District on the Mt. Hood National Forest, said. He explained the insect is a fly species that looks much like a bee. "If you look at their eyes, they're more fly-like.. and there's no stinger. (But) when you're camouflaged like that, you're less likely to become someone's dinner." Courtesy photo by Ron Kikel (used with permission).
“This is a hoverfly, I found him on a sunflower last summer,” Ron Kikel, an information assistant for Hood River Ranger District on the Mt. Hood National Forest, said. He explained the insect is a fly species that looks much like a bee. “If you look at their eyes, they’re more fly-like.. and there’s no stinger. (But) when you’re camouflaged like that, you’re less likely to become someone’s dinner.” Courtesy photo by Ron Kikel (used with permission).

Kikel isn’t just a bird man, he’s also a bug guy. He’s known in the Forest Service’s regional conservation education community for his nature photos, many of which feature dramatic close-ups of the nature he finds around him.

In his prior career, photography was Kikel’s job. He served 20 years in the Air Force, 12 of them as a photographer working in medical research and forensics.

“I worked at Wilford Hall, a big research hospital. So we had an infectious disease lab, dermatology, poison control. They’d want (close-up) photos for teaching, so I took some courses in it,” he said.

"This is a hoverfly, I found him on a sunflower last summer," Ron Kikel, an information assistant for Hood River Ranger District on the Mt. Hood National Forest, said. He explained the insect is a fly species that looks much like a bee. "If you look at their eyes, they're more fly-like.. and there's no stinger. (But) when you're camouflaged like that, you're less likely to become someone's dinner." Courtesy photo by Ron Kikel (used with permission).
“(This dragonfly) was at a pond near the (Columbia River Gorge) Discovery Center in The Dalles. I think that was last summer,” Ron Kikel, an information assistant for Hood River Ranger District on the Mt. Hood National Forest, said. The photo was taken from about 12″ away, using a Nikon D50 camera and 105mm macro lens. Courtesy photo by Ron Kikel (used with permission).

Today, skills he once used to photograph scorpions and fire ants for environmental health brochures given to deploying service members are the same ones he now uses to capture breathtaking images of Pacific Northwest beetles, birds and butterflies.

To avoid disturbing his subjects, Kikel often works with minimal gear, often taking photos with just an old Nikon D-50 camera, a manual macro lens, and sometimes a flash.

A ladybug makes a meal of an aphid.  "She's so busy munching down, she didn't even notice me," Ron Kikel, an information assistant for Hood River Ranger District on the Mt. Hood National Forest, said. Kikel makes a hobby of his love for nature through photography, with a special focus on landscapes and macro (close-up) photography. Courtesy photo by Ron Kikel (used with permission).
A ladybug makes a meal of an aphid. “She’s so busy munching down, she didn’t even notice me,” Ron Kikel, an information assistant for Hood River Ranger District on the Mt. Hood National Forest, said. Kikel makes a hobby of his love for nature through photography, with a special focus on landscapes and macro (close-up) photography. Courtesy photo by Ron Kikel (used with permission).

Despite the seeming spontaneity of this approach, he said macro photography is actually a very slow-going endeavor.

“It takes a lot of patience, because your subjects aren’t going to sit still,” he said.

This Marsh Hawk was in the rehabilitation enclosure at the Rowna Wildlife Clinic, Ron Kikel, an Information Assistant for the Mt. Hood National Forest, said. He said he spends a lot of time studying his subject's features, and it's hard not to imagine his subjects' have an inner emotional life, much like humans. “You go into an enclosure with big birds, and they can be pretty foreboding-looking when they are not happy,” he said.  
Courtesy photo by Ron Kikel (used with permission).
This Marsh Hawk was in the rehabilitation enclosure at the Rowna Wildlife Clinic, Ron Kikel, an Information Assistant for the Mt. Hood National Forest, said. He said he spends a lot of time studying his subject’s features, and it’s hard not to imagine his subjects’ have an inner emotional life, much like humans. “You go into an enclosure with big birds, and they can be pretty foreboding-looking when they are not happy,” he said.
Courtesy photo by Ron Kikel (used with permission).

These days, Kikel said, he considers his photography to be not his job, but his passion.

But he still finds lots of inspiration at the office.

“Mt. Hood is right outside my window… I can watch it change with the seasons,” he said.

An autumn photo of Opal Creek, Ore. Courtesy photo by Ron Kikel (used with permission).
An autumn photo of Opal Creek, Ore. Courtesy photo by Ron Kikel (used with permission).

While Kikel credits patience for his most successful shots, he said sometimes a little luck is also required.

He was experimenting with a new camera when he caught a striking image of a Cooper Hawk perched just outside his bedroom.

This Cooper Hawk made a late-February, 2019 appearance at the bird feeder outside Ron Kikel's home. "He takes the word 'bird feeder' to a whole new level," Kikel said, saying the hawk left hungry that day, but has since killed at least one bird who came to feed there. Courtesy photo by Ron Kikel (used with permission).
This Cooper Hawk made a late-February, 2019 appearance at the bird feeder outside Ron Kikel’s home. “He takes the word ‘bird feeder’ to a whole new level,” Kikel said, saying the hawk left hungry that day, but has since killed at least one bird who came to feed there. Courtesy photo by Ron Kikel (used with permission).

“I was shooting (pictures of) the birds at my feeder, through the window, and suddenly they all bolted,” he said. “Then I looked up, and said ‘well, that’s why… I’d better get this dude’s picture before he takes off!’”

Whether he’s providing customer service at the ranger station, giving wildlife education talks, or providing tours of Cloud Cap Inn, it’s the interpretive element that drew him to his job.

Ron Kikel took this photo of a heron while visiting Seaside, Ore. in early March, 2019. Courtesy photo by Ron Kikel (used with permission).
Ron Kikel took this photo of a heron while visiting Seaside, Ore. in early March, 2019. Courtesy photo by Ron Kikel (used with permission).

Seeing the world through a different lens, and being able to share it, is what draws him to photography, as well.

“It’s really an incredible world, when you see it close up,” he said.

"Rufus," a Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus), photographed by  
Ron Kikel, an information assistant for the Mt. Hood National Forest. "I tend to anthropomorphize my subjects," he said. Courtesy photo by Ron Kikel (used with permission).
“Rufus,” a Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus), photographed by
Ron Kikel, an information assistant for the Mt. Hood National Forest. “I tend to anthropomorphize my subjects,” he said. Courtesy photo by Ron Kikel (used with permission).

Source information: Catherine “Cat” Caruso is the strategic communication lead for the USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Region’s Office of Communications and Community Engagement, and edits the “Your Northwest Forests” blog. You can reach her at ccaruso@fs.fed.us.

A field filled with wildlflowers at Dalles Mountain State Ranch in Washington, spring 2017. Courtesy photo by Ron Kikel (used with permission).
A field filled with wildlflowers at Dalles Mountain State Ranch in Washington, spring 2017. Courtesy photo by Ron Kikel (used with permission).

‘Open Forest’ Christmas tree harvest e-permit pilot includes Mt. Hood NF

A screenshot from the welcome page on the Open Forest website: https://openforest.fs.usda.gov/christmas-trees/forests. The website will allow users on four National Forests, including the Mt. Hood National Forest, to purchase 2018 season Christmas Tree permits online. Image by USDA Forest Service.

SANDY, Ore. – The Mt. Hood National Forest is offering online Christmas tree permits through the Open Forest pilot program this holiday season!

The Mt. Hood National Forest is one of four National Forests participating in an online pilot program for holiday tree e-permits.

This pilot allows you to purchase your 2018 Christmas tree permit from the comfort of your own home, or by using your mobile device, instead of traveling to a Forest Service office or a local vendor.

These e-permits are good only for use on Mt. Hood National Forest, this holiday season.

Although purchased online, the permits must be printed to be valid.

You can learn more about purchasing your Mt. Hood holiday tree-harvest permit and gathering your Christmas tree online at: https://openforest.fs.usda.gov.

Holiday tree permits for all National Forests in the Pacific Northwest are also available at Ranger District visitor centers during regular business hours, and through many local vendors.

Permits cost $5 each; limit 3-5 permits per household (allowed quantities vary by forest, contact a local ranger district office for details specific to your area).

Safety advisory:

As the holiday season approaches, so does winter weather.  Weather changes rapidly at higher elevations and Forest Service roads are not maintained for winter travel. Carry traction devices, and be advised of winter road closures and any sno-park permit requirements (see Wash. Sno-Park and Oregon Sno-Park for info).

The Forest Service recommends you starting early in the day, and heading home well before dark. Here are some additional winter safety and holiday tree-harvesting tips:

  • Keep your family and your own safety in mind as you head out to look for a holiday tree; dress warmly and carry a forest map, snacks, and water.
  • Do not rely solely on your GPS, as electronic devices can stop working, or some information may not be accurate or up-to-date.
  • Bring items you’ll need to stay warm and dry, even if stranded outdoors without a working vehicle.
  • Have a trip plan; Make sure friends or family know where you are going, when you plan to return, and have a plan to contact law enforcement if you don’t arrive.
  • Remember to bring along a tool to cut your tree and rope or cord to secure it to your vehicle.
  • Don’t forget your first aid kit!
  • Our holiday tree webpage features a video with helpful hints for a successful holiday tree outing.

As a part of the “Every Kid” program, all fourth-graders can receive a holiday tree permit for free this season! They must have their Every Kid pass or voucher with them in order to receive their free holiday tree permit, and they must be accompanied by their parent or guardian. These special holiday tree permits can only be obtained at our official ranger district offices. For more information on the “Every Kid” program, please visit: www.everykidinapark.gov.

Bog-dwelling beetle spotted on Olympic NF

A beetle crawls on a piece of moss.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Aug. 24, 2018 –  An Olympic National Forest biologist and a pair of Student Conservation Association student interns have documented the first known site for the Beller’s ground beetle (Agonum belleri) on the Olympic Peninsula.

Karen Holtrop, a USDA Forest Service wildlife biologist, Student Conservation Association interns Karen Guzman and Conor Cubit, and employees of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, found the beetle while conducting surveys for the beetle at the the Cranberry Bog Botanical Area in the Dungeness watershed, located on the Olympic National Forest,in June.

An intern sets beetle traps

Student Conservation Associaton intern Karen Guzman sets an insect trap during a survey for Beller’s ground beetle at the Cranberry Bog Botanical Area on Olympic National Forest June 14, 2018. USDA Forest Service photo by Karen Holtrop.

Beller’s ground beetle is a wetland-dependent ground beetle that is regionally listed as a “sensitive species” by the USDA Forest Service.  The agency lists species as “sensitive” when there’s a concern regarding the species population numbers, density, or habitat.

A woman examining a beetle in a specimen jar.

Annabelle Pfeffer, an intern working with the USDA Forest Service, holds a Beller’s ground beetle specimen during an earlier survey, May 3, 2018. USDA Forest Service file photo by Karen Holtrop.

The beetle was suspected to live on the Olympic National Forest, but that had not been confirmed until now. It is usually found in sphagnum bogs at a range of elevations, from sea level to alpine.

Threats include habitat destruction from urban development, logging, water-level alteration, peat-mining, and pesticides, and climate changes affecting bog water levels or seasonal duration periods.

The Beller’s ground beetle is also known to live on the Mt. Hood National Forest, and is also believed to be present on the Gifford Pinchot and Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forests — although this has not yet been confirmed.

The Olympic National Forest conducts regular surveys for wildlife, fish, and botanical species. Surveys are usually done in cooperation with state and federal agencies, tribes, non-government agencies, citizen volunteers, and others.

This summer, surveyors also confirmed the presence of the Makah copper butterfly on the forest.

Information gathered by such surveys not only documents where habitat for species can be found, but also helps identify locations for and the success of restoration efforts. For example, Taylor’s Checkerspot butterfly, a federally endangered species was discovered to have returned to an area of the peninsula, following planting of native vegetation in its historical habitat as a result of a wildlife survey.

Interns prepare to survey for beetles in a spaughnum bog.

Karen Guzman and Conor Cubit, Student Conservation Association interns working with the Olympic National Forest, surveyed for Beller’s ground beetle on the forest’s Cranberry Bog Botanical Area June 27, 2018. USDA Forest Service photo by Karen Holtrop.


Source information: Olympic National Forest: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/olympic/learning/?cid=fseprd587761

Human causes lead fire starts on Mt. Hood this summer

fire burns in the distance along a forested river bank at night

SANDY, Ore.  – August 14, 2018 – Humans, not nature, are responsible for the majority of wildland fires on Mt. Hood National Forest.

Of thirty wildfires reported this year, only one was started by lightning.

Human causes can include everything from spark-throwing equipment vehicles or equipment to improperly-disposed cigarettes, but one major hazard this summer has been abandoned campfires. Fire personnel have extinguished more than 200 abandoned campfires on the forests in the past few weeks.

Target shooting has also emerged as another source of sparks driving wildfires on the Mt. Hood National Forest this summer.

Camping, target shooting, ATV use, and smoking outdoors are among a number of potentially spark-generating activities that are restricted on the forest, until further notice.

“Dry fuel conditions on the Mt. Hood National Forest are well ahead of historical trends,” Dirk Shupe, Assistant Forest Fire Management Officer for the forest, said. “Some visitors think they can ignore the Public Use Restrictions in place as weather changes and temperatures temporarily decrease, however, just one spark can ignite quickly and start a wildfire in these conditions.”

four people standing in front of Timberline Lodge

Members of the Northwest Area Fire Prevention Education Team stand outside Timberline Lodge, located on the Mt. Hood National Forest, in an undated 2018 photo. The majority of wildfires on the forest so far this year have been human caused. USDA Forest Service photo.

This week, a multi-agency national Fire Prevention and Education Team will visit dispersed camp sites, historic sites, campgrounds and other areas around the Mt. Hood National Forest to educate visitors about the restrictions and how they can protect lives and property from wildfire.

The team is comprised of professionals from the U.S. Forest Service and the Georgia Forestry Commission in partnership with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Bureau of Land Management and other federal, state and local agencies.

“Everybody needs to be aware of the dangers of wildfire, while still enjoying the many recreational benefits Mt. Hood National Forest provides,” Mark Wiles, the Prevention Education team leader, said. “Visitors can do just that during the ongoing focus on fire prevention. Our goal is to empower forest users with the knowledge that these restrictions are in place and there are consequences to ignoring them.”

For information about recreation and current fire restrictions on the Mt. Hood National Forest visit www.fs.usda.gov/mthood, or follow the forest on Facebook and Twitter for updates.


Source information: Mt. Hood National Forest staff

Going swimmingly: Mt. Hood fish stream restoration update

A forest stream flows through a rocky streambed, past fallen logs,.

Between 2012 and 2017, the Mt. Hood National Forest and its partners performed extensive restoration work within the Still Creek watershed that flows nearby the Zigzag Ranger District. Restoring the health of Still Creek watershed is vital to recover healthy populations of threatened and endangered fish such as Coho salmon and steelhead among other wildlife species that are listed as “species of concern” tied to the Endangered Species Act.

“Still Creek has been identified as being one of the best areas for us to focus our efforts around Mt. Hood National Forest due to its historical populations of these important fish species,” Greg Wanner, Fish Biologist for the Mt. Hood National Forest, said. “The watershed health with potential to provide a lot of stream diversity also made it a prime candidate for our work.”

Total investments in the watershed amounted to nearly $2.2 million dollars and have resulted in significant improvements in habitat quality, water quality, and ecosystem function.

The project was driven by a few key goals: 1) restoring natural watershed processes and removal of invasive plants, 2) improving water quality in terms of temperature, and sediment reduction, 3) providing educational opportunities for nearby communities, 4) providing jobs to contractors and the local fishing industry, and 5) strengthening relationships between partnering organizations and private landowners.

A man wearing waders spreads his arms apart while standing on a pile of large diameter wood logs above a stream bed.

Greg Wanner demonstrates how a stream will spread out into the flood plain during the winter’s high water events with the addition of large wood – downed tree trunks and branches – in this still image from a 2013 video about the Still Creek fish stream restoration project. USDA Forest Service image..

Over the last several decades our understanding of what it means to have a healthy watershed has changed drastically. As recently as the early 90’s scientists and engineers believed that the best way of producing healthy fish populations was to channelize streams by removing boulders and large wood structures like logjams and generally straightening rivers wherever possible. The urgency for this work was also spurred by flooding events where cabins along streams near Mt. Hood specifically were damaged by high water levels.

The thinking back then was that if the water flowed faster, more water cold pass through the same space thus decreasing the possibility of water levels rising and at the same time, helping anadromous fish — fish that migrate to the ocean and then return to spawn — reach the ocean. Sadly, best intentions don’t always pan out the way we wish they did.

The streams in Mt. Hood’s watersheds saw a near total collapse of fish bearing stream habitats following the channelization. What fish biologists and other scientists soon realized was that the slower moving waters off the main channels of streams were vital places for fish to rest and feed. They further discovered that large woody structures helped create these slower water by spreading out the floodplains and provided important food sources for juvenile fish.

“The large woody debris structures are so important since they provide for juvenile fish places to rest and great food sources in insects in the slower moving waters,” Wanner said.

So, Mt. Hood biologists have been bringing back the logs and boulders and adding diversity back in the streams’ construction. Over the last five years, biologists have successfully restored 8 miles of stream along Still Creek and 185 acres of essential floodplain habitat.

In addition, the forest has successfully:

  • Built 240 logjams throughout the main channel of Still Creek.
  • Reconnected 6.5 miles of side channels to the main channel.
  • Rehabilitated 19 dispersed camp sites to help reduce contamination and sedimentation.
  • And removed barriers, like failing culverts, on over 3 miles of habitat for migratory fish.

But this story of success includes more players than just Forest Service biologists. Since 1999, the Sandy River Basin Partnership (SRBP), originally consisting of the City of Portland, Portland General Electric (PGE), the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife (ODFW), and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), has played a huge role in making this restoration work a reality. Since its conception, SRBP now has 14 active partners.

With such a daunting task as restoring potentially tens of thousands of acres of watershed, SRBP decided to focus first on sections of stream that have historically supported salmon and steelhead populations from a variety of life stages and that have fairly well-connected river networks. Still Creek was identified as being a great location to restore stream habitat for Chinook salmon, Coho salmon, and winter steelhead.

“This work would not be possible without the vital partnership of so many nonprofit, state, and federal organizations,” Wanner said. “More than just providing funding, these partners have been pivotal in providing insights and legwork that has led to a much better project than we could have ever hoped for if we had worked alone just within our agency.”

The restoration efforts in adding large woody debris, boulder placement and stream diversification will continue to bring rich dividends for decades to come but restored spawning grounds for these threatened fish have already started to see increased use from these fish species.

Salmon and steelhead are important to the entire river ecosystem. They recycle nutrients back into the streams after they spawn, which shows the intricate interdependence of ecosystems. As this stream restoration effort continues, expanding to other areas beyond Still Creek, the Mt. Hood National Forest looks forward to continuing their partnership with the Sandy River Basin Partners in the hopes of assisting these vital fish species to continue to thrive.

Greg Wanner explains more about restoring salmon and steelhead habitat on Mt. Hood National Forest in the 2013 video, “Jumpstarting Fish Habitat: The Story of Still Creek,” at https://youtu.be/JmN86_Nrkp8.


SOURCE INFORMATION: Chris Bentley is the Website and Social Media manager for the USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Region’s Office of Communication and Community Engagement.

Mt. Hood kids fishing derby (photos)

MT. HOOD, Ore. – May 19, 2018 – Mt. Hood National Forest staff, volunteers, and a host of partner organizations angled to get children hooked on outdoors recreation during Hood River Ranger District’s annual fishing derby May 19, 2018.

Nearly 70 children took part in fishing clinics, crafts, outdoors education activities. Participants also vied for prizes in the longest cast competition and for landing the biggest fish.

The Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife, Oregon State Police (Fish & Wildlife Division), Middle Fork Irrigation District, Hood River Valley High School, Columbia Gorge Fruit Growers, Dairy Queen, Rosauers Supermarkets, McIsaac’s Grocery Store and Starbucks Coffee also partnered with the USDA Forest Service to conduct the annual event.

Children get “hooked” on fishing at the Hood River Ranger District kids fishing derby at the Middle Fork settling pond on Mt. Hood National Forest May 19, 2018. USDA Forest Service photos by Jeffrey Lee, Hood River Ranger District, Mt. Hood National Forest.

Clockwise from top left: 1) First runner-up of the biggest catch competition.  2) Participants cast lines and wait for a bite at the pond’s edge. 3) Winner of the biggest catch competition. 4) Caught fish being measured for judging in the biggest catch competition.  5) Ron Kikel, a forest information assistant, and Jack the Owl provide an outdoors education clinic for fishing derby participants. 6) Event staff grill hot dogs for the hungry junior anglers. 7) Winner of the longest cast competition with family. 8) A panoramic view of the derby location. 9) “Frank the fish” greets participants signing up at the registration area. 10) A panoramic view of the Middle Fork settling pond, where the fishing derby was conducted. 11) A colorful sponsor recognition banner recognizes organizations that contributed to the event’s success. 12) Oregon State Patrol troopers shared some “fish stories” at story time during the derby. 13) Children paint colorful wooden fish cutouts during the derby’s art clinic.


Source information: Mt. Hood National Forest staff. This story was featured in “Valuing You: An R6 Update,” the USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Region’s employee newsletter, in the July, 2018 edition.

Recreation Advisory Committee members needed for Willamette, Mt. Hood

A snow-dusted mountain rises above an evergreen treeline, with a lake in the foreground.

PORTLAND, OR, – June 26, 2018 – The Willamette and Mt. Hood National Forests are seeking volunteers to serve on the Mt. Hood-Willamette Resource Advisory Committee (RAC). The RAC is accepting applications through Aug. 3, 2018 for new committee members.

A resource advisory team member reviews restoration and recreation fee proposals and make recommendations through a collaborative process. Previous projects have provided local jobs, restored landscapes, enhanced recreation, combated invasive species, and engaged youth.

Resource Advisory Committees are chartered under the Secure Rural Schools & Community Self Determination Act. The RAC consists of 15 members who represent a broad variety of interests.

To be selected, nominees must demonstrate the ability to effectively work in an environment with diverse interests and opinions. The Act encourages the representation of minorities, women and people with disabilities on RACs. Prospective members must reside in one of the counties under jurisdiction of the Hood-Willamette RAC. These include: Wasco, Hood River, Clackamas, Multnomah, Marion, Linn, Lane and Douglas counties.

For more information about the Secure Rural Schools Act visit: www.fs.fed.us/srs. Those interested in learning more about and/or serving on the Mt. Hood-Willamette Resource Advisory Committee should visit https://go.usa.gov/xUqY3 or contact Jennifer Sorensen, RAC Coordinator at jenniferlsorensen@fs.fed.us or call (541) 225-6388.

For more information about the Mt. Hood National Forest, visit https://www.fs.usda.gov/mthood.

For more information about the Willamette National Forest, visit https://www.fs.usda.gov/willamette.

Applications are due August 3, 2018.


Willamette National Forest & Mt. Hood National Forest staff

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