Amid the pandemic, Pacific Northwestern residents have been looking forward to summertime and exploring the beautiful Mt. Baker wilderness for months. But now, the U.S. Forest Service is proposing clearcutting up to 1,881 acres of forest near vital salmon habitat: the headwaters of the North Fork Nooksack River in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. This is a very concerning project we expect to have a significant impact on the forest and watershed. Please ask the Forest Service to pursue options other than clearcutting to improve the health of the forest and ask for an environmental impact study. Their deadline for public comment is July 2nd. As a first step, the Forest Service needs to hear a strong response from the public.
As a headwater to the Nooksack Watershed, this area is crucial habitat for Chinook salmon — a vital part of Pacific Northwest fisheries, and the main food source for endangered Southern Resident orca. Clearcutting increases the risk of landslides, degrades the water running into the Nooksack, and rolls out the Welcome mat for invasive species. In a climate-changed world, when we need to focus on restoring forests, it’s reckless to cut down over 1,400 football fields of forest — much less without even assessing the impacts before green-lighting the project.
This out-of-the-blue proposal could put the economic and natural resource benefits that intact forests provide at risk, right at a time when we need forests to sequester carbon, moderate water quality and streamflows, and provide habitat.
Tell the Forest Service they need to look at options other than clearcutting for forest health and complete an Environmental Impact Study.
Clearcut forest patch by Eric Prado – CC BY-NC 2.0.