Siskiyou Mountain Range

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Klamath Forest Alliance and the Siskiyou Crest Blog: 2017 Year in Review

This unit in the Pickett West Timber Sale above Selma, Oregon was canceled due to the advocacy of KFA, The Siskiyou Crest Blog and other conservation partners in southwestern Oregon.
Throughout the past year the Siskiyou Crest Blog and the
Klamath Forest Alliance (KFA) have been working on numerous major campaigns to
protect, restore, and rewild the Siskiyou Mountains. We are proud of our
achievements in 2017 and look forward to doing even more in 2018. Please
consider supporting our work.

Pickett West Timber Sale
The BLM’s Grants Pass Resource Area proposed the Pickett
West Timber Sale in late 2016. The project proposed extensive old-growth forest
logging, with nearly half the timber sale involving units between 150 and 240
years old. The BLM also proposed new road construction, riparian logging and
severe impacts to the proposed Applegate Ridge Trail.

The massive timber sale became a major focus of our work in 2017. The Pickett
West Timber Sale extended across a 200,000-acre planning area, from the Wild
and Scenic Rogue River near Galice and Hellgate Canyon, to the mountains
surrounding Selma, Oregon, and large portions of the Applegate Valley near
Wilderville, Murphy, and North Applegate Road.

We took a leading role by monitoring units in the Applegate Valley, Illinois
Valley and the Rogue River. We worked with the Deer Creek Association to
coordinate monitoring efforts across southern Oregon. We documented high
priority red tree vole habitat on the Rogue River and outside Selma, Oregon in
beautiful old growth forest.

Another canceled unit above Selma, Oregon.
We publicized our findings on the Siskiyou Crest Blog and
advocated for withdrawal of problematic units. We also utilized our monitoring
efforts to write detailed public comments and administrative protests. We
provided reports to Fish and Wildlife with detailed monitoring results, documenting
inaccurate Northern spotted owl habitat designations. In many units we
also documented impacts to the Northern spotted owl’s main food source, the red tree
vole.

The BLM canceled numerous of the worst Pickett West units on the Rogue River,
dropping a few hundred acres from the project. Unfortunately, the BLM then sold
a reduced timber sale in the Rogue River area, called Pickett Hog. This sale is
currently on hold until KFA’s administrative protest and the 28 other
administrative protests they received for the original Pickett West Timber
Sale, are resolved. 

In the meantime, Fish and Wildlife ordered the BLM to review
many of the Pickett West units we identified as problematic in the mountains
around Selma, and the BLM ended up withdrawing the entire Selma portion of the
Pickett West Timber Sale, including 1,584-acres of old-growth forest. Although
a spectacular victory for local environmentalists, rural residents, and
scientists who opposed this sale, BLM has, unfortunately, initiated a new
timber sale in the Selma area called Clean Slate. Although reduced in size, the
Clean Slate Timber Sale still has units containing old-growth forests.

A Savage Murph Timber Sale unit above North Applegate.

Finally, in the Applegate Valley, the BLM is proposing to move forward with the
original Pickett West Timber Sale by implementing what they are calling the
Savage Murph Timber Sale near Wilderville, Murphy, and North
Applegate.

In 2018, we will continue working to stop old-growth logging and road building
proposed in the Savage Murph Timber Sale and Clean Slate Timber Sale. 

Siskiyou Crest Post-Fire Logging
 

The forest above this high mountain meadow were proposed for clear-cut logging following the Gap Fire. Thanks to the advocacy of KFA, the Siskiyou Crest Blog and our conservation partners, all 18 units adjacent to the Siskiyou Crest were canceled.

Eighteen units and nearly 600 acres were canceled on the
Siskiyou Crest from the Klamath National Forest’s post-fire logging proposal
after the 2016 Gap Fire. The units near Condrey Mountain and Dry Lake Mountain
were canceled due to the advocacy of KFA, the Siskiyou Crest Blog and other
conservation allies.

The Gap Fire burned over 30,000 acres on the southern slopes
of the Siskiyou Crest in the summer of 2016. The Gap Fire burned through the
Klamath National Forest (KNF) to the spine of the Siskiyou Crest, near Condrey
Mountain. In the high country around Condrey Mountain the fire burned in a
natural, mixed-severity fire mosaic, leaving green forests, lush meadows,
headwater springs, and burned snag forests interspersed in a diverse patchwork
of habitats. 

On the south slope of Condrey Mountain, near the summit of the Siskiyou Crest,
the KNF proposed to log fire-affected, old-growth forests at the headwaters of
Buckhorn and Middle Creek. The proposed clear-cut, post-fire logging would have
impacted the Siskiyou Crest and important habitat connectivity corridor that
connects the Coast Range to the Cascade Mountains and the Great Basin.

KFA and the Siskiyou Crest Blog were the only environmental organizations to
conduct on-the-ground field monitoring of the eighteen, high-elevation logging
units and new road construction proposed near Condrey Mountain and Dry Lake
Mountain.

Another canceled post-fire logging unit.

We publicized our findings on the Siskiyou Crest Blog and utilized our
monitoring results to inform our extensive public comments on the project.
Following public comment, four units near Dry Lake Mountain were immediately
withdrawn.

The KNF approved the remaining fourteen units and new road construction around
Condrey Mountain. KFA and others responded with detailed administrative
protests, putting the project on hold. The KNF resolved our administrative
protest by withdrawing the remaining fourteen units and 450 acres of high
elevation forest on the Siskiyou Crest from the timber sale proposal. We are
very proud of this victory for the Siskiyou Crest.

Unfortunately, the KNF is at it again. They have proposed a large post-fire
logging project in the 2017 Abney Fire. The project proposes a nearly
contiguous 3,000-acre clearcut on the south-face of the Siskiyou Crest near
Cook and Green Pass, the Red Buttes Wilderness, the Kangaroo Roadless Area and
the Condrey Mountain Roadless Area. KFA will be working hard to oppose this
project and will make protection of the Siskiyou Crest our highest priority in 2018!

Upper
Applegate Watershed Restoration Project (UAW)
A view south from the Boaz Mountain Roadless Area and across the Upper Applegate Valley. KFA will be opposing new OHV trails proposed in this beautiful, unroaded portion of of the Applegate Foothills. 
Over the last two years KFA has worked on a large
collaborative project in the Upper Applegate Watershed with both the BLM and
Forest Service called the Upper Applegate Watershed Restoration Project (UAW).
The project is being implemented through the Applegate Adaptive Management Area
and has included extensive public involvement. KFA has been at all of the many
public meetings and field trips associated with UAW project planning. We have
attended workshops, field trips, and planning meetings to ensure conservation
issues are addressed in the planning process. We also provided detailed public
comment during the scoping comment period.

The UAW collaborative project is working towards the
development of an Environmental Assessment (EA) before a final project is
approved. Currently, we support many of the proposals and have steered the
agencies away from ecologically sensitive areas and towards responsible land
management practices.

Proposals we support include: new non-motorized trail
development, large-scale prescribed fire, fuel reduction maintenance around
rural residential communities, pollinator habitat restoration,
ecologically-based fuel commercial thinning in plantation stands and noxious weed
removal.

We are opposing a handful of commercial logging units
located within roadless areas, and we are strongly opposing numerous new OHV
trails in the Boaz Mountain Roadless Area in the Upper Applegate Valley. 

KFA will continue working towards positive outcomes on the
UAW Project in 2018. 
  

Middle
Applegate Timber Sale
 
The Wellington Butte Roadless Area in the Middle Applegate Valley should be withdrawn from the planning area in the Middle Applegate Timber Sale. KFA will oppose all new road construction and logging in the wildands surrounding Wellington Butte.
The forests, woodlands and flower-filled prairies of the
Wellington Butte Roadless Area are no place for new roads or logging units. KFA
and the Siskiyou Crest Blog will work to protect the Wellington Butte Roadless Area, old forests
and intact habitats from the Middle Applegate Timber Sale. 

KFA has participated in the early stages of project planning
with the BLM on their proposed Middle Applegate Timber Sale. The project area
extends across the Middle Applegate Watershed including all BLM land from Ruch to North Applegate. 


We are advocating for protection of the Wellington Butte
Roadless Area, old forest habitats, intact habitats and the proposed Applegate Ridge Trail
corridor. The Middle Applegate Timber Sale will be a major focus for KFA and the
Siskiyou Crest Blog in 2018. We will be monitoring timber sale units and new
road construction proposed in this project and advocating for conservation in
the Middle Applegate Watershed. 
OHV
Monitoring
 
KFA has continued to monitor unauthorized and damaging OHV
activities in the Applegate Valley and on the Siskiyou Crest. Over the course
of the last year, KFA has successfully advocated for the obliteration of one
major OHV trail on BLM land near Anderson Butte. We have also worked to include
on unauthorized OHV trail obliteration project in the UAW Project in the Upper
Applegate Valley. We will continue monitoring OHV trails throughout the
Siskiyou Mountains in 2018. Our findings will support our effort to advocate
for OHV trails closures on BLM and Forest Service lands.
 

OHV Categorical
Exclusion
A view into Ruch, Oregon from the Wellington Butte Roadless Area, a unique low-elevation wildland threatened by OHV use on Medford District BLM lands.
Portions of the Wellington Butte Roadless Area above Ruch,
Oregon are included in the OHV Categorical Exclusion providing defacto
designation to unauthorized, illegally created OHV trails and cutting the
public out of the process. Although approved by the BLM, the Categorical
Exclusion is certainly not the end of this issue.

In April 2017, the Medford District BLM approved a
Categorical Exclusion to avoid environmental analysis and public comment on the
“maintenance” of 65 miles of unauthorized OHV trails in the Forest Creek,
China Gulch and so-called Timber Mountain/John’s Peak area. BLM’s goal is to
legitimize these illegally created, unauthorized OHV routes, mask the
environmental impacts for the upcoming Environmental Analysis and cut the
public, including residents of the Applegate Valley who are negatively impacted
by the project, completely out of the process.

The Categorical Exclusion excludes the requirement that land managers conduct
a thorough review of the cumulative environmental and social impacts. It also
excludes the requirement that land managers provide a public comment period and
address the concerns, science, and information identified in the public comment
process.

Although the BLM approved the project with no public input, KFA promptly filed
an administrative protest, demanding the project be withdrawn and the BLM
conduct Travel Management Planning as required in the 2016 Resource Management
Plan. Unfortunately, BLM denied our protest and intends to move forward with
OHV trail maintenance in the area.

KFA will continue to watch the BLM, document the impacts of OHV use and
advocate for closure of damaging OHV trails. For now, the BLM can maintain these
user-created trails but they have not been officially authorized. We are
gathering evidence and stand ready to oppose these illegal OHV trails as soon
as BLM proposes them for approval in the future.

Applegate
Grazing Complex
KFA, the Project to Reform Public Land Grazing
in Northern California, and the Siskiyou Crest Blog have been monitoring
four grazing allotments on the Siskiyou Crest throughout the summer of
2017.

The Forest Service will be updating management plans for grazing allotments in
the Applegate watershed in 2020, a task that has been neglected for many
decades. Some of these grazing allotments have not had an updated management
plan since 1956! Our goal is to document impacts to water quality, soils,
wildlife habitat, pollinator habitat, botanical resources, and designated
Botanical Areas to inform the planning process.

KFA will continue working with conservation allies to monitor grazing
allotments on the Siskiyou Crest in preparation for the 2020 renewal of the
Applegate Grazing Complex.

Fire Monitoring, Education, & Advocacy
A spectacular sunset above the Marble Mountains Wilderness and the Salmon-August Fire. KFA will be exploring the Salmon-August Fire, Eclipse Fire, & Miller Complex Fires with comprehensive fire reports. Stay tuned for their upcoming publication in 2018!

Wildfire defined the summer of 2017 in the Klamath-Siskiyou
Mountains. The fires burned in a largely natural, mixed-severity fire mosaic,
and provided significant ecological benefit to the forests and wildlands of our
region. 



While the fires were burning, KFA was tracking their progress and informing
fire managers of the important ecological considerations within the fire area.
We also advocated for responsible fire management, effective community
protection and the protection of roadless habitats from fire suppression
impacts.

KFA and the Siskiyou Crest Blog have been monitoring the fires and fire
suppression activities on the Miller Complex in the Upper Applgate Watershed,
the Salmon-August Fire on the North Fork of the Salmon River and the Eclipse
Fire in the Mid-Klamath Watershed.

We are currently preparing three new fire reports in our Klamath-Siskiyou Fire
Reports series. Our goal is to share our findings with local conservationists,
residents, scientists, politicians and land managers. Our reports will explore
the fire effects, fire suppression impacts and long-term implications of the
2017 fire season in the Klamath-Siskiyou Mountains.

KFA worked hard in 2017 to educate the public about the important role fire
plays in the Klamath Siskiyou Mountains.We intend to continue advocating for managed
wildfire, the reform of fire suppression tactics and strategies, as well as an
end to post-fire logging in the Klamath-Siskiyou. We hope to continue making
progress in 2018. 

Please consider supporting Klamath Forest Alliance with agenerous year-end donation. Your donation will support on-the-ground
monitoring, heartfelt, well-informed advocacy, citizen science, and grassroots
environmental activism in the Klamath-Siskiyou Mountains.  

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