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Mirror Lake Trailhead
USFS report offers look back at 2018, look ahead to 2019 posted on 03/01/2019

The US Forest Service (USFS) was expected to release the Mount Hood Annual Report for 2018 at the end of February, offering a look at all that transpired on the Mount Hood National Forest last year. Laura Pramuk, Public Affairs Officer for the (USFS), noted one of the aspects the report highlighted was all the progress that has been made in fish restoration.

“That’s been a real testament to our commitment to fish restoration on the Mount Hood National Forest,” she said, adding that a number of program partners, including the Freshwater Trust, the Clackamas River Basin and the Sandy River Watershed Council have been involved throughout. “That’s been a real accomplishment for the forest.”

Specific projects highlighted in the report include:

– the completion of the Zigzag water system improvement project to connect the Zigzag Ranger Station to a municipal water supply (Rhododendron Water).

– replacing two undersized culverts with a bridge on the upper Marco Creek to benefit native resident fish and aquatic organisms, and minimize the potential for a primary arterial road to washout.

– decommissioning of seven miles of roads decommissioned in lower Collawash and Oak Grove Fork, and the Middle Clackamas River watersheds that crossed or paralleled stream corridors, and were located on large, unstable earthflow landforms. Decommissioned roads were re-planted with native seedlings and grass seed.

– the Ant Farm crew, consisting of youth from Sandy, assisted the Zigzag Trail Crew in the Sandy River Basin, including work on Mirror Lake Trail, Little Zigzag Falls Trail and rehabilitation activities in the Salmon River Corridor and Old Maid Flats where inappropriate or illegal dispersed camping and dumping often occurs.

– trained 60 volunteers with Trailkeepers of Oregon for the first Trail Skills college volunteer training event held on the Zigzag Ranger District.

– relocated the Mirror Lake Trailhead and added 1.4 miles of accessible trail. The new trailhead project provides a more sustainable and safe alternative to roadside parking. The project also improved drainage and parking improvements at Skibowl, and included improvements to the intersection of Glacier View and Hwy. 26.

– trail Crew, volunteers and partners maintained 406 miles of trail.

– replaced the Buttercup ski lift at Mt Hood Meadows. The new lift is a SkyTrac fixed grip quad which doubles capacity and will run 30 percent faster than the old Buttercup, thanks to a conveyor that beginners step on that matches their speed to the lift chair.

– in the first year of the multi-year Upper Sandy Watershed Restoration Action Plan, The Freshwater Trust, Bureau of Land Management and USFS teamed up to restore all non-Wilderness instream reaches of Lost Creek and fully restored Cast Creek in 2018. The partners placed 945 logs and whole trees to construct 70 wood jams and reconnected 5,639 feet of historic floodplain side channels.

– in the “Marco Reach” of the West Fork Hood River, a large wood placement project was completed in collaboration with the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon and Weyerhaeuser Columbia Timberlands. Approximately 60 trees were hand-tipped and 180 alders hand-felled into a 0.7-mile reach of the river to create log jam structures just upstream of Marco Creek.

– the USFS partnered with Portland General Electric to replace an undersized and failing culvert with an open-bottom arch, benefitting resident native fish and aquatic organisms, and mitigating the potential for a major failure of Forest Service Road 45, offering access to tens of thousands of acres.

– the 2018 fire season was below average in the number of ignitions and acres burned. In all, 54 ignitions for 89 acres occurred on the MHNF. Fifty-two fires were human caused with the remainder started by lightning. Resources from the MHNF supported neighboring cooperators and National Forests including Oregon Department of Forestry, the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, Willamette National Forest, and the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs (CTWS), in addition to many fires in the Pacific Northwest and the Western United States.

Meanwhile, Pramuk shared that 2019 includes a few notable projects, including replacing a culvert on the 2612 Road (Still Creek Road) during the summer. This culvert is located near Mile Post 7 on a tributary to Still Creek and is the final project of the Watershed Restoration Action Plan for Still Creek.

The MHNF and Sandy River Basin Partners acquired grants of nearly $2.2 million dollars that resulted in significant improvements in habitat quality, water quality and ecosystem function in Still Creek. From 2012 through 2019, in-stream restoration actions impacted more than eight miles of the Still Creek main channel and an estimated 185 acres of floodplain habitat.

2019 will also see a new electrical system improvement project at Timberline Lodge to address the cleaning and maintenance of electrical service equipment, replacement of obsolete equipment and creating a current set of schematics for the electrical systems. The project will include the historic lodge and the newer day lodge.

The contract has not been awarded yet but could begin this summer or fall, and it may cause minor disruptions to visitor services at the lodge. The current electrical system is out of date and improvements are needed to bring the lodge’s system up to current code.

“There's a lot of enthusiasm on the forest because we are making some substantive progress on long standing projects,” Pramuk said. “(But) there’s always more work to do.”

By Garth Guibord/MT

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