Wellington Wildlands Threatened with Clearcut Logging in BLM’s Bear Grub Timber Sale
|Beautiful fire resistant forest is proposed for group selection logging in the Bear Grub Timber Sale. These units are located at the headwaters of China Gulch and in the Wellington Wildlands. The trees marked with white paint are proposed for removal and are nearly all over 30″ in diameter.|
Since the fall of 2019, Klamath Forest Alliance has been working with Applegate Neighborhood Network and residents throughout the Applegate Valley to oppose the Medford District BLM’s Bear Grub Timber Sale and to protect the Wellington Wildlands.
|Fire resistant forest on China Gulch marked for removal.|
The Bear Grub Timber Sale proposes “group selection” logging, a form of staggered clearcut logging that removes whole groves of mature, fire resistant forest in patches up to 4 acres in size and across up to 30% of a timber sale unit.
By removing large overstory trees and whole groves of fire resistant forest, these habitats will be converted into dense, highly flammable patches of young trees and shrubs. This form of forestry and the structural conditions it creates has been shown to increase fire hazards and significantly reduce habitat values for imperiled species like the Northern spotted owl and the Pacific fisher.
To make matters worse, the Bear Grub Timber Sale targets some of the most intact, mature to late successional forest in the foothills of the Applegate Valley. In fact, the Bear Grub Timber Sale proposes group selection logging at the headwaters of China Gulch in the Wellington Wildlands, a 7,526-acre roadless area between the hamlets of Ruch and Applegate, Oregon.
|The Bear Grub Timber Sale proposes to remove whole groves of large, old trees on China Gulch. The trees marked with white paint are proposed for removal.|
The Wellington Wildlands are well loved by local residents who regularly recreate in the area’s highly accessible and spectacularly scenic wildland habitats, and who support the area’s permanent protection. Due to its unique beauty the area is proposed as a central feature of the Applegate Ridge Trail, which would traverse the area on its way between Grants Pass and Jacksonville, Oregon.
This non-motorized Applegate Ridge Trail proposal benefits from broad public support, and many believe the region is more valuable for wildlife, biodiversity, recreation, and as a scenic backdrop for the homes, farms, ranches, and vineyards of the Applegate Valley, than as dry, extremely marginal logged over timberland.
Unfortunately, the local community and the BLM have very different plans for the Wellington Wildlands. While the public cherishes this wild and beautiful region, the BLM’s Bear Grub Timber Sale proposes to log off this scenic corridor, sacrificing community values, recreational values, and biological values for short-term timber industry profits.
|A group selection clearcut proposed in open, fire resistant forest at the headwaters of China Gulch. Nearly every tree in this photograph has been marked for removal.|
Located in the rainshadow of the Siskiyou Mountains, the forests of the eastern Applegate Valley are the driest in Western Oregon. Surviving on only about 20″ of annual precipitation, conifer forests are limited in distribution and survive mostly in protected canyon bottoms and on north- or east-facing slopes. Vast portions of the landscape are too arid to support forested habitats and are instead dominated by oak woodland, grasslands, and chaparral.
of the Bear Grub Timber Sale proposes logging in extremely arid, harsh forested habitats and at levels that cannot be sustained into the
future. For example, the
largest contiguous forest in the China Gulch Watershed (a few hundred acres) has been proposed for group selection logging in the Bear
Grub Timber Sale, removing up to 30% of the current forest canopy.
|The largest contiguous conifer forest in the China Gulch Watershed, in the southeastern portion of Wellington Wildlands, is targeted for group selection logging. If the Bear Grub Timber Sale is implemented the forests in this photograph will be fragmented with a series of staggered clearcuts.|
Growing from extremely steep gravelly slopes, this large forested stand consists of predominantly Douglas fir with patches of bigleaf maple lining the dry, gravelly drainages. Much of the forest is open, spacious and dominated by large, old trees. The understory supports low grass and very little fuel loading. Although the trees are generally well spaced, they create an overstory canopy that suppresses understory shrub growth, while allowing enough light for a diversity of native grasses and wildflowers.
Despite the current level of fire resistance and despite the local communities’ love for the Wellington Wildlands, BLM has proposed to clearcut patches of mature, closed canopy forest, increasing fire hazards, degrading wildland habitats, and damaging recreational values at the headwaters of China Gulch.
|Forests of Douglas fir and big leaf maple proposed for group selection logging at the headwaters of China Gulch.|