Klamath Forest Alliance-Siskiyou Field Office: A Year of Activism in the Siskiyou Mountains
|A rainbow below the Siskiyou Crest in the Elliott Creek canyon.|
2018 has been a busy year for Klamath Forest Alliance (KFA). We started the year by officially opening our Siskiyou Field Office, based in the Applegate Valley, at the heart of the Siskiyou Mountains.
KFA’s Siskiyou Field Office roams the region monitoring federal land management projects on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, the Klamath National Forest and the Medford District BLM. Each year we hike hundreds of miles in steep, rugged terrain monitoring timber sales, OHV trails, grazing allotments and fire suppression impacts in the rain, snow, smoke and heat. We work from southern Oregon’s Wild Rivers Coast and across the Siskiyou Crest to the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument.
KFA also spends countless hours writing public comments, administrative
objections, appeals and monitoring reports informed by our on-the-ground
monitoring efforts. We attend meetings, field trips, and workshops with local land management agencies, advocating for conservation and the protection of wildland habitats. We educate, organize and empower local communities
to become advocates for their watersheds and join regional conservation
partners on important campaigns across the region.
|Gentiana calycosa (Traveler’s gentian) on the Siskiyou Crest.|
Our goal is to protect, defend and restore wild places, ancient forests, clear flowing streams, and biodiversity. KFA is a place-based, on-the-ground environmental organization utilizing grassroots community activism, science, passionate advocacy, environmental education, and litigation to achieve tangible conservation victories.
In 2018, KFA worked on the following conservation campaigns:
works across the region monitoring federal timber projects on both BLM and Forest Service lands.
Clean Slate Timber Sale
|Ancient forests like this one are targeted for logging in the Clean Slate Timber Sale outside Selma, Oregon.|
Savage Murph Timber Sale
|This beautiful old forest above North Applegate was originally proposed for logging in the Savage Murph Timber Sale, but was withdrawn due to pressure from KFA and other conservation allies.|
Savage Murph Timber Sale was the Applegate Valley portion of the
Pickett West Timber Sale. Although
public outrage and impacts to both habitat and prey sources for the
Northern spotted owl forced the BLM to cancel large portions of the Pickett West
Timber Sale. They did not initially cancel the Applegate Valley
portions. This became the Savage Murph Timber Sale.
Located in the mountains above North
Applegate, Murphy and Wilderville, Oregon, the project sprawled across
vast acreages. Originally, 2,229 acres were proposed for commercial logging ,
including numerous old-growth units and the construction of significant
new roads. Much to the displeasure of the surrounding community, the BLM
was also proposing to log within the proposed Applegate Ridge Trail
forces with local conservation partners at the Applegate Neighborhood Network
and successfully encouraged BLM to withdraw all the old-growth and old
forest logging units, as well as new road construction. We also protected large
portions of the proposed Applegate Ridge Trail corridor, a
non-motorized trail proposed by the Applegate Trails Association.
Currently, the BLM has reduced the acres proposed for logging by 86%, to 192 acres. The BLM has tried once to sell the timber sale at public
auction and it received no bidders. To date, not a single acre has been
logged in the Savage Murph Timber Sale.
|Ancient forest on the Onion Way Trail was proposed for logging in the Upper Briggs Timber Sale. The project was proposed to “reduce the risk of catastrophic fire” and ironically burned at largely low severity in this summer’s Taylor Fire.|
Post-Fire Logging Campaigns
|The incredible Chetco River watershed flows out of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness and into the Brookings Harbor. The Forest Service approved over 9,000 acres of clearcut, post-fire logging in the lower Chetco River watershed.|
Following the 2017 Chetco Bar Fire, the Rogue River Siskiyou National Forest proposed a massive post-fire, clearcut logging proposal in the Chetco River Watershed. The Chetco River is one of the most intact watersheds in the West and large portions of the watershed are protected in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness Area. The river supports both exceptional water quality and an incredible run of wild steelhead and salmon.
KFA conducted extensive field monitoring of proposed timber sale units, demonstrating that significant unroaded habitats and fire-effected old-growth forest were proposed for clearcut post-fire logging in the Chetco Bar Fire Salvage Project. KFA submitted detailed public comments and worked to alter or cancel this damaging post-fire logging project.
Unfortunately, in his first decision as Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest Supervisor, Merv George Jr. approved post-fire clearcut logging throughout the lower Chetco River watershed on over 9,000 acres. KFA will continue monitoring this project to document and demonstrate the environmental impacts associated with post-fire, clearcut logging.
|KFA in the field, looking across the Seiad Horse Project Area to the Red Buttes Wilderness Area.|
Following the 2017 Miller Complex Fire that burned roughly 36,000 acres on the Siskiyou Crest in and around the Red Buttes Wilderness, the Kangaroo Roadless Area and the Condrey Mountain Roadless Area, the Klamath National Forest proposed a large post-fire, clearcut logging project near Cook and Green Pass, the PCT, two Late Successional Reserves and even within the Kangaroo Roadless Area.
KFA went into action, monitoring proposed timber sale units, documenting the beneficial effects of the Miller Complex Fire and advocating for conservation in the Siskiyou Crest Connectivity Corridor. We submitted extensive public comments and administrative protests opposing the project.
Unfortunately, the Klamath National Forest approved this devastating post-fire logging proposal, forcing KFA and regional conservation partners, the Environmental Protection and Information Center (EPIC), KFA and KS Wild to file a lawsuit opposing the Seiad Horse Project. Although we have yet to see our day in court, we hope to stop the Seiad Horse Project and protect the connectivity of the Siskiyou Crest.
Selberg Institute’s Black Mountain Preserve protects the ancient forests
of Black Mountain and the connectivity of the Siskiyou Crest.
In 2018, KFA worked with the Selberg Institute to facilitate a conservation buyout of the Black Mountain Parcel. The Black Mountain Parcel is a 240-acre privately owned, old-growth forest surrounded on all sides by the over 20,000 acre Condrey Mountain Roadless Area. The forest is embedded within some of the most intact old-growth forest in the eastern Siskiyou Mountains and the Applegate River watershed.
Historically, owned by the Fruit Growers Supply Company (FGS), a private timber company located in Hilt, California, the Black Mountain Parcel contains incredible old-growth forests, the headwaters of numerous clear-flowing streams, wetlands, glades and beautiful rock outcrops. These forests contain one of the only stands of Pacific silver fir on the Siskiyou Crest and the state of California.
In 2017, the Miller Complex Fire burned through the area at low severity leaving the vast majority of the old-growth canopy intact. Despite the positive fire effects and unscathed canopy, FGS was threatening to apply for an “emergency fire salvage” permit to clearcut the parcel. The logging was to occur this past summer, but instead KFA and our conservation allies at Applegate Neighborhood Network and Selberg Institute joined forces to secure a conservation buyout of this important and irreplaceable wildland habitat. Our friends at the Selberg Institute are now the proud owners of the Black Mountain Preserve and the parcel has been permanently protected from commercial logging or other development activities.
Everyone in this region who loves wild places, old-growth forests and the connectivity of the Siskiyou Crest owes the Selberg Institute a debit of gratitude for their efforts to permanently protect the old-growth forests and conservation values of Black Mountain and the Condrey Mountain Roadless Area. Although much of the buyout effort was facilitated by the Selberg Institute, KFA played a vital role in identifying the threat and working to find allies who could secure the protection of Black Mountain. KFA is honored to have participated in this inspirational conservation victory. May Black Mountain forever remain wild!
|The Upper Applegate Valley.|
For the last three years, Klamath Forest Alliance and other conservation partners have been working to ensure that the Upper Applegate Watershed Restoration Project lives up to its name and has a truly restorative outcome.
In many ways we have been largely successful and many of the project proposals will have beneficial results for the environment and for surrounding communities. Klamath Forest Alliance has been supporting proposals to conduct relatively large prescribed burning projects and some fuel reduction thinning projects adjacent to communities in the Upper Applegate Valley. We have also been supporting plantation thinning, some commercial thinning with strong ecological sideboards, unauthorized OHV trail closures, road closures, pollinator/native plant restoration projects and new non-motorized trails.
The Forest Service also proposed numerous new off-road vehicle trails in the Upper Applegate watershed and in the Boaz Mountain Roadless Area. Local residents, community groups and KFA successfully opposed numerous new motorcycle trails, including those in the Boaz Mountain Roadless Area. Unfortunately, the Forest Service continues to propose a few remaining off-road vehicle trails up Beaver Creek in the Upper Applegate Valley.
KFA will continue to engage in this project and will oppose all new motorized trail development. Motorized trails are simply not “restorative” in nature and have no place in supposed “restoration” projects. An Environmental Assessment for this project is schedule to be released any day now. We will keep you posted.
|The Taylor Fire and Briggs Creek watershed with Chrome Ridge in the distance.|
The Klamath-Siskiyou Fire Reports Program is an innovative, one-of-a-kind KFA program documenting the on-the-ground fire effects and the ecological benefits of wildfire in our region. We also document the environmental impacts associated with fire suppression activities. Our Klamath-Siskiyou Fire Reports are utilized to educate the public, oppose post-fire logging proposals, and dispel myths surrounding wildfire in the Klamath-Siskiyou Mountains. The ultimate goal is to reform fire suppression policy and support ecologically appropriate fire management. We know of no other environmental organization with a similar program in the West.
In 2018, KFA published three major fire reports for the 2017 Salmon-August Fire in the Marble Mountains Wilderness, the 2017 Eclipse Fire in the Siskiyou Wilderness and the 2017 Miller Complex Fire on the Siskiyou Crest.
We are also working on three major fire reports for 2019, exploring the 2018 Klondike and Taylor Fires in the Kalmiopsis region, the 2018 Klamathon Fire in the Soda Mountain Wilderness and Cascade Siskiyou National Monument, and the 2018 Natchez Fire on the Siskiyou Crest in the Siskiyou Wilderness.
We also use our experience and expertise to advocate in the debate surrounding wildfire and forest management in the Klamath-Siskiyou Mountains. While few other environmental organizations dare to question the current assumptions surrounding wildfire, forest management and historic fire regimes in the Klamath-Siskiyou region, KFA has put ourselves in the center of the controversy, advocating for biodiversity, the reform of fire suppression policy, forest management strategies and the use of managed wildfire. We are actively engaged in education campaigns across the region, promoting a more healthy relationship with fire and more firewise communities.
|KFA has focused its OHV monitoring on the Botanical Areas of the Siskiyou Crest, where unauthorized motorized use is impacting important botanical values.|