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Siskiyou Mountain Range

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Hinkle Lake Revisited: The Beginning of Recovery

The Hinkle Lake Basin with Whisky Peak in the background

This past weekend I visited a favorite place of mine. I drove up the Middle Fork of the Applegate River to the Fir Glade Trailhead and hiked closed road #850 (aka “The Hinkle Lake Trail) into the Hinkle Lake Basin. For over a decade now I have worked to protect the Hinkle Lake Basin and the Hinkle Lake Botanical  Area from OHV abuse. The last few years have seen an increased effort by many other individuals and organizations, and now, finally, things have begun to change for the better. The turning point toward recovery has been the Forest Service’s serious commitment, over the past year, to enforcing an effective motor vehicle closure for this now over 30 year-old Forest Order Closure. This has included adequate signage and notice of the road closure, gating, tank traps, and increased enforcement and monitoring.

October, 2006 OHV tracks in lake

                    October, 2013 After fall rain, no OHV tracks


 For years, the meadows and lake basin were abused by unmanaged and illegal OHV use. The
wetlands around Hinkle Lake and Kendall Cabin had become mud bogs, and
vehicle tracks could be found throughout the broad subalpine meadows
and flower fields. I am happy to report that some of these areas have
begun to heal and re-vegetate. Although the impacts to hydrology and
riparian function may be more long term, this year they were not made worse with
each trespassing vehicle. The last time OHVs were seen in the Hinkle Lake Basin was in June, 2013. It does not appear as if any further trespass has occurred. When I arrived there this past weekend I was heartened to see the gate locked and other hikers on the trail!

                                         Summer 2012                                        Fall 2013

As these before and after photos show, there are visible signs of recovery within the meadows and lake margins. We have begun to make a difference, yet the struggle is not over. We still need to advocate for official designation of road #850 as the “Hinkle Lake Trail,” and for inclusion of the Hinkle Lake Basin in the Red Buttes Wilderness in order to keep it protected in perpetuity. The Hinkle Lake Basin is  a wilderness caliber landscape and should be treated as such.

Locked gate on road #850, aka “The Hinkle Lake Trail”

Please contact the following Forest Service officials and tell them you support the measures they have taken to protect the Hinkle Lake Botanical Area and encourage them continue these actions into the future.

Adequate signage is helping inform the public of the closure

Donna Mickley, District Ranger, Siskiyou Mountains Ranger District:

Rob MacWhorter, Forest Supervisor, RR-SNF: