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The New BLM Resource Management Plan and its Impact on the Applegate Watershed

The Wellington Butte Roadless Area and LWC along with many other special places in the Applegate Valley would be open to logging, road building and motorized recreation in the new Resource Management Plan (RMP).
The BLM has released a new
Resource Management Plan (RMP), intended to direct management activities
throughout western Oregon, including the Applegate Valley. The
implications of this new plan for our forests, rivers, wildlife,
wildands and communities are concerning to say the least. The plan will
turn back many important environmental protections and eliminate land
management designations that promote community-based collaboration in
the Applegate Valley.

The new RMP would eliminate or reduce
many of the environmental protections of the Northwest Forest Plan. The
plan would reduce streamside logging buffers by half, impacting 300,000
acres currently protected as Riparian Reserves. Commercial logging in
Riparian Reserves will not only harm water quality and our endangered
fisheries, but also it will also harm rare and/or endangered species such as
the Pacific fisher and northern spotted owl. Riparian Reserves were
meant to preserve connectivity on the landscape scale and improve or
protect riparian habitat from logging disturbances. In dry regions, like
the Applegate Valley, our streams must be protected because our communities rely
on them for fisheries, wildlife habitat, sustenance and recreation.
They flow through our valley and past our homes.

The plan would
also allow logging 278 million board feet of timber annually, an
increase of 37% since the last plan was approved in 1995. The new RMP
emphasizes clear-cut logging techniques on nearly 500,000 acres of land
in Oregon’s moist forests, and proposes a large increase in logging in
the dry forests of southwestern Oregon. The increased logging will
increase fuel and fire hazards adjacent to our communities and in
important forest habitats. It will also degrade important wildlife
habitats, impact water quality, log off some of our last intact forests
and destroy the viewshed from our communities and homes.

For
example, the new RMP will eliminate the proposed designation and
protection of two “Lands with Wilderness Characteristics” in the
Applegate Valley. Both areas were inventoried and found worthy of LWC
protection. Unfortunately, the BLM is removing these areas’ LWC status
and protections, leaving the Dakubetede and Wellington Butte LWCs open to
logging, road building and motorized recreation.

The Dakubetede Roadless Area and LWC will have its LWC status and protections eliminated in the RMP. This important connectivity corridor and recreational hotspot will be open to logging, road building and motorized recreation.

 The Dakubetede LWC is centered
around Anderson Butte and the arid slopes of the Little Applegate
Valley. The LWC is traversed by the Sterling Mine Ditch Trail and
portions of the proposed Jack-Ash Trail. The Wellington Butte LWC, is
located near Ruch, Oregon and is the wild core of the proposed Applegate
Ridge Trail (ART).  Having become hotspots for non-motorized
recreation, both LWCs are well loved by residents of the Applegate
Valley and southwestern Oregon. Together the land management practices
proposed in the RMP will forever degrade these wildlands and the
pristine nature of the proposed ART and Jack-Ash Trails, impacting the
quality of life, habitat and the recreation based economy of the
Applegate Valley.

Perhaps most important to local Applegate
Valley residents is the elimination of the Applegate Adaptive Management
Area (AMA). The AMA was designated in 1994 to encourage innovative,
ecologically responsible and collaborative land management planning in
the Applegate watershed. The AMA was designed to provide the community
with opportunities to collaborate and develop “idiosyncratic” methods of
land management based on community values and ecological needs.

The
Applegate Valley has been a model of community engagement with local
land managers. We have worked to create collaborative and socially
acceptable land management projects in the AMA. As a community we have
worked for 22 years towards consensus, building collaborative capacity
and supporting the AMA. Many in the Applegate Valley have invested
heavily in the AMA process, working to create a voice for our community
and build trust between the BLM and local residents. Removing the AMA
designation betrays that trust and will eliminate the BLM’s mandate to
work collaboratively with our community and practice innovative forestry
practices.

The majority of
BLM land in the Applegate Valley would be located within the “Harvest
Land Base,” meaning that logging would be the primary form of land
management. Timber production would be prioritized over ecological,
social or community values within the Harvest Land Base, including
within the Dakubetede and Wellington LWCs, numerous Recreational
Management Areas, and the corridors proposed for the Jack-Ash and
Applegate Ridge Trails.
The majority of the forest in the Applegate Valley would be designated as part of the “Harvest Land Base.” This means timber production will be prioritized before ecological needs and recreation.
Some BLM lands in the
Applegate watershed will be managed as Late Successional Reserves (LSR).
A large block of LSR has been designated in the Williams watershed,
Thompson Creek watershed and the western half of the Upper Applegate
River watershed. Despite the stated goal of providing large blocks of
late successional habitat for the recovery of the northern Spotted Owl,
the BLM would mandate the logging of 17,000 acres per decade on the
Medford District within these important LSRs.

Although the BLM
claims to be emphasizing recreation and conservation in the RMP, nearly
all designated conservation and recreation areas would prioritize
timber production and motorized recreation. Our two most loved wild
areas, the Dakubetede and Wellington Butte LWC will be open to logging,
road building and motorized recreation. The corridors of the Jack-Ash
and Applegate Ridge Trail will be proposed for timber management and
opened to motorized use.   Likewise, our beloved AMA has been axed, along
with more than two decades of effort from our community. The new RMP
represents old, outdated thinking and a bias towards industrial land
management. The residents of the Applegate Valley are looking forward to
a more sustainable future. Will the BLM join us?

Please contact
your elected officials and tell them that we want our wild places, old
forests, clear flowing streams and non-motorized recreation areas
protected from logging, road building and OHV use. Ask them to:

  • Revoke the Record of Decision for the new RMP and create a new plan that balances ecological, social and economic values.
  • Maintain streamside logging buffers as proposed in the Northwest Forest Plan
  • Reduce
    the annual allowable cut by maintaining stream buffers, old forests,
    LSR habitat, roadless areas and northern spotted owl habitat.
  • Maintain LWC status and protection for the Wellington Butte and Dakubetede Roadless Areas.
  • Reinstate
    and reinvigorate the Applegate Adaptive Management Area designation.
    Use this designation to facilitate community collaboration and
    innovative land management.
  • Reinstate survey requirements for rare wildlife species, plants, lichen and fungi.

Contacts:

Ron Dutton, State BLM Director
Representative Peter Buckley:
Rep.PeterBuckley@state.or.us
Sally Jewell, Secretary of the Interior:
exsec_exsec@ios.doi.gov
Senator Ron Wyden:
Representative Greg Walden

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