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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

We would do well to remember the "good old days" of "getting out the cut" - it's why American Alps seeks to add so much low-elevation forest to NCNP!

For anyone who did not experience it, it might be hard to imagine just how strong the logging juggernaut was. Every year from 1950 to 1990, Congress appropriated hundreds of millions of dollars to build roads on the National Forests. Valleys up and down the Cascades had roads punched into them, and millions of acres of ancient forests fell. The highways were filled with loaded logging trucks, usually carrying only three or four giant logs. It was common to see one's favorite places transformed into clearcuts. Had it gone on, there would now be little or no old growth left standing in the North Cascades outside of the National Park and Wilderness areas.

But it didn't go on. Thanks to efforts by a number of conservation organizations, led by the Pilchuck Audubon Society, and supported by NCCC, lawsuits were filed to protect spotted owls and other old growth dependent animal species. It seemed impossible at the time, but the logging juggernaut ground down not to a halt, but to a shadow of its fearsome former self. The Northwest Forest Plan radically reduced logging levels. Most of the valleys had roads pushed into them and some of their forests felled, but the timber industry didn't manage to get it all. Old growth forests can still be found in the North Cascades. Many adjacent to North Cascades National Park are in the American Alps study areas, prime candidates for permanent protection.
This chart depicts the cut levels on the Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest from 1970 to 2006. The reduction in those levels is the greatest conservation triumph in the history of the North Cascades. Although there are still many threats to the forests of the North Cascades, the wholesale liquidation of old growth has been stopped for now. NCCC plans to do all it can to insure that the line on the chart stays at rock-bottom, and the American Alps Project will protect many acres of low-elevation old growth that survived the onslaught, from Baker River to Big Beaver, Thunder Creek to the North Fork Cascade River.

-Excerpted from "Timber on the MBS" by Rick McGuire on the N3C website at


Dan McShane said...

Thanks for posting that chart. A piture or in this case a graph says 1,000 words. I started mapping in the North Cascades in 1989 just as the collapse was getting into full swing.

Phil Fenner said...

Hey Dan, great to hear from you! Suggestion: How about putting N3C's blog on your blog's "blog list" so your followers might check us out? Thanks!