ALERT: Lewis and Clark Mount Hood Wilderness Act of 2004 – Senate Bill S2723

SAWS Action Alert

Lewis and Clark Mount Hood Wilderness Act of 2004 – Senate Bill S2723

Comments must be sent to your U.S. Senators, with a recommended copy to Senator Gordon Smith (R-OR) by September 28th, 2004

Here we go again, folks!  Another BIG land grab proposed by Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, D-OR ( to close nearly 180,000 acres of multiple-use Mount Hood National Forest (MHNF) land as restricted wilderness. This proposal, Senate Bill S2723, would nearly double the current acres of wilderness and ban many forms of recreation in this forest. This would include a ban on snowmobiles and other forms of OHV recreation.

Whether you snowmobile in this area or not, you need to send an email or letter to the two U.S. Senators from YOUR state and ask that they oppose bill S2723. You can find the contact information for your Senators at A copy of your letter should be sent to Senator Gordon Smith, R-OR ( Mr. Smith does not support the bill at this time, but needs to hear from many others that oppose this land lockup.

Some of you may┬áhave seen the article I wrote 7/25/04 titled “Pristine Wilderness – The Big Lie!“.┬á Senator Wyden’s┬áproposal is a perfect example of what I was talking about in my article. Congress is picking and choosing which portions of the Wilderness Act of 1964 they wish to follow. In this proposal, they want to include 13,131 acres within the new wilderness boundaries as open to mountain bikes due to┬á”OregonÔÇÖs increasing popularity with mountain bikers”. What about the increasing popularity of snowmobiling?┬áMountain bikes are supposed to be banned in designated wilderness areas just as snowmobiles are.

Only 3.3% of the current visitors to the MHNF visit the current wilderness areas per the forest services own National Visitor Use Monitoring (NVUM) studies. Oregon already has 2,273,612 acres of designated wilderness. Why does Mr. Wyden think we need nearly 180,000 more acres of wilderness for this 3.3%?

Below I have included information from the Oregon Recreation Coalition that provides more facts for your letters. Please send a letter to the two U.S. Senators from your state and Senator Smith. Oregon snowmobilers appreciate and need your help. Time is short; please send a letter today.

Look up the contact information for your Senator at

Snowmobile Alliance of Western States

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 Information below provided by the Oregon Recreation Coalition.

Oregon Recreation Coalition Position on Lewis and Clark Mt. Hood Wilderness Additions

The Oregon Recreation Coalition supports Wilderness designation only in areas that meet the characteristics identified in the 1964 Wilderness Act and where evidence of human activity does not exist and has not existed.

The Lewis and Clark Mt. Hood Wilderness proposal, S2723, does not meet the above standard. The Oregon Recreation therefore opposes the proposal as written.┬á This proposal would add in excess of 177,000 acres of Wilderness to the Mt. Hood Forest in about 15 different segments.┬á The bill proposes bringing Wilderness boundaries up to the edge of many travel ways. Such placement of boundaries sets the Forest Service up for dealing with perceptions of conflict between Wilderness advocates and the users of the Wilderness locked roads and trails.┬á Other travel ways have been ÔÇ£penciled outÔÇØ in the plan.┬á The proposal calls for an existing power line to be buried because a visible power line in a Wilderness Area is an ÔÇ£incongruent presence.ÔÇØ The power line burial would be accomplished at a cost of┬á $3,200,000.00.┬á┬á┬á There is evidence of logging across much of the landscape.

Recreation groups report at least 1100 miles of trails and roads would be eliminated or compromised by the proposal, not to mention the acres and miles of play areas currently open to over snow machines in the winter.┬á The Forest Service is unable to confirm this figure because they do not have a comprehensive trails inventory.┬á The Forest ServiceÔÇÖs own proposal to establish a designated route system for roads, trails and areas for OHV and Over Snow Vehicles is presently out for comment.┬á A wise move would be to let them do their job, develop a comprehensive inventory and then decide to increase or decrease the system.

Recreationists support healthy forests. Many areas of the Mt. Hood Forest were logged about 60 years ago.  Regrowth and underbrush in these areas have not been managed to the degree necessary to create a healthy forest.  The risk of loss to wild fire is great.  Evidence of dead and dying trees can be seen across the landscape.  The East and South sides of the Forest do not receive enough moisture to support continued healthy growth of existing vegetation.  Active management of these Forests is a must to reduce wild fire risk and intensity and to maintain a healthy forest.  Wilderness designation does not support active management.

Recreationists support local economies.  One of the recreational pursuits seriously impacted by this Wilderness proposal is snowmobiling.  Snowmobiling is a growing sport. With recent technological advances effecting sound and fuel efficiency it is seen as a healthy, family winter activity.  Snowmobiling generates jobs and income wherever facilities and trails are available.

Recent studies reveal that 9% of every dollar spent by snowmobilers ends up in government treasuries through various taxes paid. Across the Snow Belt in the United States and Canada last year snowmobilers generated over $25 billion worth of economic activity.  This proposal reduces one snowmobile trail system on the Mt. Hood Forest by 90% and another by about 65%.

In addition to reducing the snowmobile trail systems, the proposal reduces expansion potential of developed ski areas, in one case from 1500 acres to 50 acres. Down hill and cross country skiing are promoted as clean, healthy, growing family activities that promote physical health during an otherwise sedentary wintertime.  Of every dollar spent by a skier, 80 cents supports the local economy.

These reductions in actual activity areas and in potential growth areas are included in the Wilderness proposal

1) despite recognition that the metropolitan center that qualifies Mt. Hood National Forest as an urban forest is growing and will require more rather than less opportunity for winter recreation;

2) despite recognition that smaller communities are suffering financial hardships resulting from drastic reductions in income with the phasing out of mining and timber harvest activities; and

3) despite the fact that in most places adequate protections for the land are already in place.  Existing protections include an existing 180,000 acres of Wilderness on the Mt. Hood Forest. There are currently many Wild and Scenic River miles on the Mt. Hood Forest.  Other protections include the Northwest Forest Plan, the Forest Services own management plan, the Endangered Species Act and the Clean Water Act.

If more protection is needed for some of the special areas, consideration should be given to a less restrictive designation such as Back Country Recreation. This designation, proposed by Blue Ribbon Coalition, allows the Forest Service to actively manage the land while continuing to preserve the back country character of the landscape.

The Oregon Recreation Coalition represents the access interests of over 50,000 Oregon recreationists.