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The Upper Briggs Restoration Project: Old forest logging proposed on Briggs Creek! Please comment now!

Old-growth forest proposed for logging in the Upper Briggs Restoration Project on the Secret Way Trail, south of Sam Brown Campground.
Upper Briggs Restoration Project: Old forest logging proposed on Briggs Creek! Please comment now, the comment period ends May 31st!

Briggs Creek is a beautiful stream flowing south into the Illinois River canyon from its headwaters near Onion Mountain Lookout, Taylor Mountain, and to the west, Chrome Ridge. The region contains steep forested slopes, gentle green meadows at Briggs Valley, serpentine ridges, and clear flowing streams. Briggs Creek is an important cold water tributary of the Illinois River with runs of coho salmon and steelhead trout. It is also an important recreation area just west of Grants Pass, Oregon with the world’s tallest ponderosa pine trees.


The region has a rich human history of indigenous land management, and later, of mining, logging, ranching and recreation. The creek is named for George Briggs who packed supplies into the area for local miners with a team of mules. Starting in the late 1860s, the creek was heavily mined for gold. Most of the mining was taking place in the streams and fishery habitats on Briggs Creek and smaller tributaries. 

By the 1920s new roads led out to chromium mines on aptly named Chrome Ridge, and placer mining continued in the streams. Around this time settlers farmed and ranched the small meadows near Sam Brown Campground and Horse Creek Meadows. Later logging roads were built throughout the watershed and both clearcut and selective logging was common from the 1940s to the 1990s. Today, over 170 miles of road have been built within the Briggs Creek Watershed and roughly 7,000 acres have been clearcut by the Rogue River Siskiyou National Forest. 

Old-growth forest proposed for logging to 40% canopy cover in unit 23 along the Secret Way Trail.

Although portions of the Briggs Creek Watershed have been badly damaged by mining, logging, road building and ranching, other portions remain as intact remnants of the once vast uncut forests, rocky, unroaded ridges, verdant meadows and clear salmon streams found on Briggs Creek.  


Since at least the 1960s the Forest Service has also managed numerous recreation sites in the Briggs Creek area, and generations of southern Oregon residents have fallen in love with the region for camping, hiking, and more recently, mountain biking.

The Sam Brown Campground and adjacent recreation sites continue to be extremely popular with area residents, and recently the Forest Service invested in maintenance, renovation and trail construction in a large, interconnected trail system leading from the Illinois River, up Briggs Creek and over the ridge to nearly the banks of the Rogue River on Taylor Creek.

A remnant grove of old Douglas fir trees growing in unit 35 of the Upper Briggs project. The stand is mostly mid-seral Douglas fir forest, but the agency has proposed to drastically reduce canopy cover, remove large trees and implement pine-oak restoration treatments. The proposal to convert Douglas fir forest to pine-oak structural conditions is inappropriate and will degrade forest habitats rather than “restore” them.

Unfortunately, the Forest Service has proposed the Upper Briggs Creek Restoration Project, a large landscape-scale timber sale that would log over 4,000 acres around the Sam Brown Campground, along recreational trails, in the Horse Creek Meadows Wildlife Area and in Critical Habitat for the Northern spotted owl. 

Klamath Forest Alliance has been monitoring proposed timber sale units and has prepared a detailed public comment advocating for old-growth forests, Northern spotted owl habitat and the protection of beautiful meadows in the Horse Creek Meadows Wildlife Area. 


We are especially concerned by the proposal to log old forest habitats and to conduct so-called “meadow restoration” treatments. 

Horse Creek Meadow Wildlife Area will be subjected to heavy industrial logging both in the meadow itself and in the forest surrounding the meadow.

The Forest Service is using aerial imagery from 1940 as a
“reference ecosystem” despite eighty years of mining, logging, ranching
and boom towns in the Briggs Creek watershed. They are using post-settlement era aerial photographs to define the extent of meadow
habitats and have proposed to recreate them with “meadow restoration” treatments.
The concept is that fire suppression has led to a decrease in meadow habitat due to conifer and shrub encroachment. Unfortunately, it was settlement and land clearing that may have accentuated these large meadows in the historic  photos. 


The supposed meadow restoration treatments proposed in the Upper Briggs Restoration Project would clearcut large swaths of forest adjacent to existing meadow habitats in the Horse Creek Meadows Wildlife Area and around Sam Brown Campground. The proposal also advocates logging all trees within the meadows that are less than 120 years old. 

Klamath Forest Alliance supports non-commercial meadow restoration measures that may include non-commercial thinning, prescribed fire, invasive plant removal, and native pollinator plant restoration. 

Beautiful old forest proposed for logging on the Secret Way Trail in unit 23B.

The project also includes units in beautiful, fire resistant, old-growth and late successional forest habitats on Myers Creek, Secret Creek, and Horse Creek. These forests contain important habitat for the Northern spotted owl and its primary prey source, the red tree vole. Some of the units also contain robust populations of the rare clustered lady’s slipper (Cypripedium fasciculatum). Other units are located on popular recreational hiking, equestrian and mountain biking trails, including the Taylor Creek Trail, Onion Way Trail and Secret Way Trail. Logging these stands will degrade important late successional habitat, impact rare plant habitat, and damage beautiful recreational trails. 

What do you prefer? Camping and hiking among old-growth forests and beautiful mountain meadows, or stumpfields disguised as “restoration?”

These gorgeous meadows surrounding the Sam Brown Campground would be heavily logged in the Upper Briggs Restoration Project. The project calls for removing all trees less than 120 years old both in the meadow and in the forest at the meadow margin. According to Forest Service prescriptions, all conifers in this photograph would likely be removed. Leaving a stumpfield to surround the meadows and the campground.

Please consider commenting on the Upper Briggs Restoration Project Environmental Assessment. The comment period ends on May 31, 2018.

Send your comments to: 
comments-pacificnorthwest-siskiyou-wildrivers@fs.fed.us  
&
mpaciorek@fs.fed.us  

Upper Briggs Restoration Project Talking Points:

  • Cancel all proposed logging units in old-growth or late successional forest habitats including units 2, 9, 20, 21, 22, 23, 23b, 23c, 55 & 70.
  • Cancel logging units with large populations of the rare clustered lady’s slipper orchid, including units 21 and 22. 
  • Do not implement meadow restoration that logs trees within or surrounding mountain meadows or campgrounds. Institute non-commercial meadow restoration treatments instead.
  • Do not approve the Red Tree Vole Habitat Conservation Plan and maintain all current protections for the red tree vole, including site protection measures and pre-disturbance surveys.
  • Do not downgrade Northern spotted owl habitat. 
  • Logging the Horse Creek Meadow Wildlife Area and Sam Brown Meadow in Meadow Restoration Treatments is inconsistent with the mandates of the Siskiyou National Forest Plan. 
  • Cancel all new road construction proposed in the Upper Briggs Restoration Project. 
  • Do not implement Oak-Pine Restoration Treatments in Douglas fir plant associations. The proposal will create novel forest conditions and is not restorative in nature.  
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