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Klamath Forest Alliance: 30 Years of Environmental Advocacy in the Klamath-Siskiyou Mountains

Dillion Creek just above its confluence with the Klamath River. KFA defends some of the most intact watersheds on the West Coast of North American.

Klamath Forest Alliance (KFA) is celebrating a milestone in 2019! KFA started working for the wildlands of the Klamath-Siskiyou Mountains 30 years ago! The organization was formed in 1989 by a small, but committed band of activists from the remote reaches of the Salmon River country and in the Scott Valley of northern California. Rooted within the rural communities of the Klamath-Siskiyou Mountains, KFA has worked to protect, defend and restore the wildlands, old-growth forests and biodiversity of this spectacular region.



Over the years, KFA has fought and won many struggles with the the United States Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and federal regulatory agencies. This began in 1989, when KFA negotiated a settlement with the Klamath National Forest to protect roadless areas and riparian areas on the Salmon River from post-fire logging, and a successful lawsuit to protect the Grider Creek Roadless Area and connectivity corridor (between the Marble Mountains and Red Buttes Wilderness) from post-fire logging. 

The Grider Creek Roadless Area in 2014 following the Happy Camp Fire. The Grider Creek drainage is a vital habitat connectivity corridor between the Siskiyou Crest and the Marble Mountains Wilderness.

Throughout the 1990s, KFA played a vital role in the ancient forest movement and helped to establish the Northwest Forest Plan. KFA was a strong Klamath Mountain representative within the larger ancient forest movement, working for wildlands and old-growth habitats throughout the Pacific Northwest. During this time, KFA was one of the first environmental organizations in the region to embrace conservation biology, the study of protecting and conserving natural habitats, biodiversity and habitat connectivity. 

As time passed, the movement’s focus shifted from ancient forests to concepts surrounding biodiversity, connectivity and conservation biology. KFA was at the front of this vital transformation, and to this day, remains dedicated to the protection of old-growth forests, biodiversity and the maintenance of habitat connectivity in the Klamath-Siskiyou Mountains. 

KFA won numerous key lawsuits in the late 1990s and early 2000s, including successful litigation to cancel the reconstruction of unstable forest roads on the Klamath National Forest and in the Mid-Klamath Watershed following the 1997 New Year’s flood. Many unstable and ecologically damaging roads with extreme sedimentation issues have been decommissioned due to this effort. 

In 2002, we successfully challenged the Biological Opinion for the Klamath Irrigation Project, due to the project’s impacts to endangered coho salmon. This decision became a key factor in convincing PacifiCorp to negotiate dam removal on the upper Klamath River. After many years of effort, this decision is beginning to bare fruit, with numerous dam removals planned on the Klamath River, making hundreds of miles of spawning habitat available again to endangered fisheries. 

The Horseshoe Ranch Wildlife Area was protected from privatization in 2005 by a KFA lawsuit. Today, it is included in the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument.  

In 2005, KFA won a precedent setting lawsuit preventing the Redding District BLM from selling off roughly half the acreage in  the beautiful Horseshoe Ranch Wildlife Area. KFA litigation stopped the privatization of this important biological corridor, which is now included in the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument.


In 2006, KFA and our allies also litigated to uphold the Aquatic Conservation Strategy and won a key victory for riparian areas and aquatic habitats across the Klamath-Siskiyou Mountains. 


Over the years, KFA has protected thousands of acres of old-growth forest and post-fire habitat from industrial logging across the Klamath-Siskiyou Mountains. Our victories include the forests of Grouse Creek on the Six Rivers National Forest, throughout the Klamath National Forest, on the Salmon River, at the base of the Marble Mountains Wilderness, near the Russian Wilderness, above the communities of Orleans and Happy Camp, California, in the Kangaroo Roadless Area adjacent to the Red Buttes Wilderness, on the Siskiyou Crest, in the Applegate Valley, on the Wild and Scenic Rogue River, and above the town of Selma, Oregon in the Illinois River watershed. 


Cattle grazing in high meadows on the Siskiyou Crest.

KFA has also won lawsuits forcing the Klamath National Forest to conduct Environmental Analysis before reauthorizing grazing allotments in the Marble Mountain Wilderness, and we  work with The Grazing Reform Project on the most comprehensive public land grazing program in the region. We are currently focused on grazing allotments in the Marble Mountains, Trinity Alps, and on the Siskiyou Crest. 

In 2012, we began our innovative Klamath-Siskiyou Fire Reports Program. This one-of-a-kind program documents the actual, on-the-ground effects of regional wildfires, analyzing wildfire effects, exploring regional fire ecology and documenting wildfire
suppression impacts. We are the only regional
environmental organization with a program dedicated to wildfire
monitoring.

The Wild and Scenic Illinois River following the 2018 Klondike Fire.

We are
also taking the lead in dispelling the myths and addressing the misleading rhetoric surrounding wildfire in our
region. We embrace fire as a natural process and believe it can have incredibly positive effects if managed both for community safety and ecological needs. 

While much of the
region is debating the potential benefits and impacts of wildland fire,
we provide a rare critique, rooted in the actual on-the-ground realities
of the fires’ effects. This background in wildfire also helps inform
our perspective on “active management,” often used as a euphemism for
industrial logging. 



KFA has a long history of effective and innovative environmental advocacy, and most recently we started the Siskiyou Field Office of the Klamath Forest Alliance.

The Siskiyou Field Office
A view across Big Red Mountain on the Siskiyou Crest.

KFA’s Siskiyou Field Office (based in the Applegate Valley) is dedicated to the protection of natural habitats, roadless areas, old forests and intact ecosystems across the Siskiyou Mountains of southern Oregon and northern California. 

We work with local conservationists to build effective campaigns and achieve significant conservation victories for the Siskiyou Crest, the Applegate watershed, The Rogue River, the Illinois River, the Wild Rivers Coast of southwestern Oregon and the Cascade-Siskiyou region, where the Cascade Mountains and Siskiyou Crest collide. 

In its first year, our Siskiyou Field Office has conducted extensive field monitoring,
including 40 full days spent in the field reviewing 9 federal land
management projects and 5 major fires. Our on-the-ground monitoring requires rugged on trail and off-trail hiking, sometimes up to thirty miles in a day! We also attended 19 field trips
and meetings with land management agencies, made 3 public
presentations about fire ecology, wildfire management, and forest
management issues, and published numerous opinion pieces in local
newspapers. The Siskiyou Field Office has also submitted numerous detailed monitoring reports, public comments, and administrative objections to damaging land management projects. 

We are also active in litigation on the Siskiyou Crest to stop the Seiad Horse Post-Fire Logging Project near Cook and Green Pass, the Red Buttes Wilderness, Kangaroo Roadless Area and Condrey Mountain Roadless Area. 

Looking out over the Siskiyou Crest while conducting on-the-ground monitoring of the Seiad Horse post-fire logging project near Cook and Green Pass.

Our work has been vital in building strong grassroots campaigns, rooted in the rural communities most affected by federal land management activities. We are proud to work for the world-renowned biodiversity of the Siskiyou Mountains and with the most passionate conservation allies in the region. 

Our current efforts consist of monitoring federal land timber sales throughout southwestern Oregon on both BLM and Forest Service land. We are also monitoring off-road vehicle use and any other activities that affect the ecology of the region. 

KFA monitoring exposed thousands of acres of old-growth forest in the now withdrawn Pickett West Timber Sale. Logging these ancient forests was proposed by the BLM as “ecological restoration.” This timber sale was the first federal project designed around the Rogue Basin Cohesive Forest Restoration Strategy. Our monitoring efforts and advocacy were essential to the broad-based campaign opposing Pickett West and the gross misapplication of science and “restoration thinning.”

KFA’s Siskiyou Field Office is also at the center of the debate around forest and wildfire management, often taking the tough positions other organizations are afraid to take, and fighting proposals that manipulate “restoration” language, yet implement damaging, industrial timber sales. We question the current paradigm of “active management,” and federal land manager’s push to increase logging as a means of limiting fire and smoke. This false narrative, is being promoted by economic interests as a way to increase public land logging. In many cases, these projects are about timber production, not forest restoration and will increase fuel loading due to the removal of large, fire resistant trees , the loss of overstory canopy, and the dense regeneration of brush and young, highly flammable vegetation.


We focus on the natural effects of mixed-severity fire, the benefits of wildfire to ecosystems, and the potential to manage wildfire for resource benefit while protecting communities. This will require a shift away from heavy, industrialized fire suppression and backcountry logging proposals, and an increased emphasis on community fire protection, homesite firewise programs, and the use of fire to meet resource objectives. 

A view across Briggs Creek and the beautiful mixed-severity fire effects of the 2018 Taylor Fire.

While the timber industry and others promote logging as a solution, we believe that wildfire management is a much more effective tool. We are focused on keeping communities safe and managing for healthy, diverse, fire-adapted forest and woodland habitats. The timber industry and their political allies are simply looking out for their bottom dollar.


If you want to support an organization based on passion for place, not politics, support KFA. If you are interested in building a strong grassroots movement in the Klamath-Siskiyou, support KFA. KFA knows and loves the Siskiyou Mountains like few others do. 


As you ring in the New Year, raise a glass and toast to KFA’s 30 years of environmental advocacy! Celebrate 30 years of conservation victories with a year-end donation to KFA. Our work is far from over!

 

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