Nedsbar Community Monitoring Program: Unit 27-20 and 26-20
|The western portion of unit 27-20 is an open stand of large, old Douglas fir trees. The stand supports high quality wildlife habitat, including habitat for the northern spotted owl and Pacific fisher. The stand also supports naturally fire resilient stand conditions.|
The BLM’s Nedsbar Timber Sale identifies unit 27-20 as a “structural retention ponderosa pine 40%” unit, meaning the unit will be thinned to roughly 40% canopy coverage. The BLM has also proposed roughly one mile of new road construction to provide access to both unit 27-20 and nearby unit 26-20. Both units, and the entire length of proposed new road construction, are within the Dakubetede Roadless Area.
The Dakubetede Roadless Area is one of the largest and most intact areas in the foothills of the eastern Siskiyou Mountains, and it is also one of the most biologically rich areas in the Applegate Valley. The Dakubetede Roadless Area lies within a vital connectivity corridor linking low elevation wildlands to the Siskiyou Crest. The Dakubetede Roadless Area is well known for non-motorized outdoor recreation due to the location of the Sterling Ditch Trail, which traverses the center of this beautiful roadless area. The trail was recently designated an Oregon State Scenic Trail and is proposed to serve as a portion of the Jack-Ash trail that would link the communities of Jacksonville and Ashland with a beautiful non-motorized trail. The Sterling Ditch Trail has become increasingly popular in recent years and is a vital asset to the locally burgeoning outdoor recreation and tourism economy. A local trails group called the Siskiyou Upland Trails Association has organized to promote the Jack-Ash Trail and maintain an interconnected trail system centered on the Sterling Ditch Trail.
The proposed new road construction, and nearly all the units proposed for logging in the Nedsbar Timber Sale (including unit 27-20 and 26-20), would be visible from the Sterling Ditch Trail and the surrounding trail system. These trails are known for their spectacular views across what the BLM now calls the Nedsbar Planning Area, an area that would be impacted with over 100 logging units. Community Monitoring Project volunteers visited a few of those units this weekend, the most troubling was unit 27-20.
During the timber sale planning stage the BLM proposes multiple alternatives to consider in their Environmental Analysis (EA), due sometime in March, 2015. Currently, the BLM’s preferred alternative (Alternative 4), includes numerous sections of new road construction deemed necessary to facilitate logging the steep and isolated units scattered across the Little Applegate Valley. If Alternative 4 is approved, a new road would be built from Lick Gulch and into the Trillium Mountain portion of the Dakubetede Roadless Area. The new road construction would provide access for logging trucks and yarding equipment for units 27-20 and 26-20. This new road would create permanent impacts to the region’s roadless/wilderness values, intact oak woodlands, native plant communities, wildlife, hydrology and scenic value.
|Unit 27-20 is found within the Trillium Mountain portion of the Dakubetede Roadless Area.|
Unit 27-20 is found on a north facing slope above the Little Applegate River on a long, dry ridge dropping west from Trillium Mountain to the mouth of Lick Gulch. The unit, like so many others in the Nedsbar Timber Sale, is an isolated stand of trees surrounded by non-forest plant communities, namely white oak woodland and chaparral. This isolated stand of late seral forest supports many trees between two and four feet in diameter. The stand contains many trees of large stature, with complex branch structure, deeply furrowed bark, and a high canopy, making the trees not only excellent wildlife habitat, but also highly fire resistant. Fuel loads in the stand are minimal, with much of the understory consisting of large moss beds, Oregon grape, and small amounts of native grass.
The canopy is dominated by large, well-spaced trees, ranging from 75%-85% canopy closure. The unit represents nesting, roosting and foraging habitat for the northern spotted owl. It is also excellent habitat for the Pacific fisher, a species that is currently a candidate for listing as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The unit also offers important thermal cover for the abundant local wildlife to escape severe cold in winter and intense heat in summer, beneath the shelter of forest canopy. Reduction of canopy closure to 40% in this stand will downgrade existing spotted owl habitat and reduce the ability of the stand to provide thermal cover.
The western portion of the unit is mostly Douglas fir and madrone, including large, widely spaced trees and very minimal fuel loads. Groves of old-growth fir characterize the western portion of the unit. Below is a video showing conditions in unit 27-20.
The eastern portion of unit 27-20 supports a stand of mature ponderosa pine amongst groves of late to mid seral Douglas fir. The canopy is closed and understory fuels very minimal, consisting of moss beds, pine needles, and scattered native bunchgrass.
Unit 26-20 is directly east of unit 27-20 and would be accessed by the same new road construction. Much like unit 27-20, the unit extends from the roadless ridgeline west of Trillium Mountain to a private residential property in the Little Applegate Canyon below. The unit is an unmanaged, natural stand, meaning it has never been logged. The BLM has identified the unit as a “structural retention douglas fir 40%” unit, meaning canopy closure will be reduced to 40%.
Much of unit 26-20 consists of dense, mostly mid seral Douglas fir with closed canopy conditions. The unit currently supports nesting, roosting, and foraging habitat for the northern spotted owl. The canopy closure has also suppressed understory shrub development, keeping ladder and understory fuels minimal. Some mortality has begun to effect stand development, creating important snag habitat and downed woody debris.
The upper portion of the unit, near the ridgeline, is more open, with a well established understory of native grass. Groves of open-grown Douglas fir and ponderosa pine grow amongst a few scattered oak trees. The stand structure is open, naturally fire resilient and diverse.
|The upper portion of unit 26-20 supports an open structured forest that needs no thinning whatsoever. Naturally fire resilient stands such as these should be protected and retained and are not in need of “restoration” or “density management” thinning.|
Thinning these stands to 40% canopy closure will create increased light infiltration, triggering the development of shrubby understory species and an increased fire risk to the nearby residential properties in the Little Applegate Valley. It will also impact habitat for the northern spotted owl and Pacific fisher. Units 27-20 and 26-20 should be canceled to protect the biological and recreational values of the Dakubetede Roadless Area and the viewshed of the Sterling Ditch Trail.
Below is a video of the proposed new road development in the Dakubetede Roadless Area.
Other YouTube video links of units 27-20 are listed below.
East side of unit 27-20
West side of unit 27-20 video 2
The Siskiyou Crest Blog and Klamath Forest Alliance have joined forces to facilitate the Nedsbar Community Monitoring Program. Although much progress has been made and 28 units have been visited by community members, approximately 75 units still need to be visited and reviewed. Many more will likely contain old-growth characteristics and fire resilient stand conditions. These units must be identified, documented, and publicized if we are to be successful in protecting some of the last and best low elevation forests on Medford District BLM lands. Please consider donating to the project by making a tax deductable donation to the Klamath Forest Alliance. Donations will fund on-the-ground monitoring of the Nedsbar Timber Sale with the intent to inform the public, document the potential impacts, generate high quality public comments, and ultimately STOP THE NEDSBAR TIMBER SALE.
Contribute to the Nedsbar Community Monitoring Program
Donate online or by mail.
Klamath Forest Alliance
PO BOX 21
Orleans, CA 95556
(Please specify that your donation is for the Nedsbar Timber Sale)