2020 ANN’s Year in Review

The Red Buttes Wilderness at the headwaters of the Applegate River.

2020 has been a difficult year for people across the world. Here in the US we have struggled through the pandemic, economic hardship, social isolation, mass misinformation campaigns, ongoing displays of systematic racism, social unrest and an all out assault on public institutions, including those who manage our public lands.

It has been a year of turmoil and anger, fear, anxiety, outrage, and also empowerment. Yet, despite the pandemic and all the uncertainty and instability it brings, millions of people across the country and across the world have raised their collective voice for equality and justice. So within the darkness of the pandemic there is hope for a better tomorrow.

ANN rally against the Bear Grub Timber Sale in Ruch, Oregon June 27, 2020.

Here at ANN we work hard to protect the landscape that surrounds us, support our community and help empower local, rural people to engage directly in the management, conservation and protection of public lands. Below are projects and issues we worked on in 2020 and that we will continue addressing in 2021.

Bear Grub Timber Sale

ANN timber sale monitors reviewing Bear Grub Timber Sale units along the East Applegate Ridge Trail.

We poured our hearts into stopping the Bear Grub Timber Sale in 2020. Located in the mountains between Talent in the Rogue Valley and Ruch in the Applegate Valley, the project proposes nearly 1,100 acres of commercial logging, including 293 acres in the Wellington Wildlands and additional acreage along the popular East Applegate Ridge Trail.

The timber sale calls for group selection logging, a form of staggered clearcut logging that will increase fire risks, degrade forest habitats, and impact the scenic and recreational values of the Applegate Valley, the beloved Wellington Wildlands and the East Applegate Ridge Trail.

We worked with neighbors throughout the region to fight this timber sale, which was, unfortunately, approved by the BLM and sold at timber auction in October. In 2021 ANN will continue working to STOP BEAR GRUB and SAVE WELLINGTON WILDLANDS.

For more information: Stop Bear Grub Website


Integrated Vegetation Management for Resilient Lands Project (IVM)

Forests near Williams, Oregon targeted for logging in the Late Mungers Timber Sale and under the proposed provisions of the IVM Project.

The IVM Project could perhaps be the single most damaging BLM proposal in southwest Oregon in many, many years. The project proposes 684,185 acres of proposed “treatment areas” spread out across nearly the entire Medford District BLM. Under the provisions proposed for the IVM Project up to 20,000 acres could be commercially logged, and up to 90 miles of new road built per decade without site specific environmental review or public comment. These “treatments” would include heavy industrial logging in Late Successional Reserves (LSR) set aside to protect the Northern spotted owl and its old forest habitat.

ANN is working with conservation allies across the region to oppose this damaging project that will increase commercial logging in sensitive landscapes, while gutting public accountability and reducing public input and oversight. ANN’s work on the IVM Project will continue and intensify in 2021.

For more information: IVM Blog Post


Late Mungers

A unit in the Late Mungers Timber Sale above Murphy, Oregon.

The Late Mungers Timber Sale is proposed in a large Late Successional Reserve on the ridges between the Williams Valley and Murphy in the Applegate Watershed, and Selma in the Illinois River watershed. The project has proposed logging in old forest habitats including small roadless areas near Mungers Butte. ANN is actively working with conservation partners in Williams, Murphy and Selma to oppose this sale and PROTECT MUNGER WILDLANDS!

For more information: Protect Munger Wildlands Website


Wild & Scenic Applegate River

The Wild & Scenic Little Applegate River is part of ANN’s Wild & Scenic Applegate River proposal.

In response to a public nomination process initiated by Senator Wyden (D-OR) and Senator Merkley (D-OR), ANN and our partners at Klamath Forest Alliance have proposed new Wild & Scenic River designations on tributary streams throughout the Applegate River Watershed. In total, we have documented, identified and promoted almost 200 miles of new Wild & Scenic River designations for the Applegate River Watershed that encompass some of the most intact wildlands in our area.

ANN will continue working towards the protection of these ecologically important rivers and streams in 2021. If secured, these would be the first permanent protections of federal lands in the Applegate River watershed in 33 years!


Applegate River Native Plant & Pollinator Restoration

ANN native plant and pollinator restoration planting day in November 2020.

For the past three years ANN has been working with the Siskiyou Mountains Ranger District to restore native plants and pollinator habitat along the Upper Applegate River. This past fall, with much-appreciated funding provided by the Ashland Food Co-op, we worked with Klamath-Siskiyou Native Seeds to grow out 14 native species of plants and provide a seed mix comprised of 16 different native species of wildflowers and grasses. In November, under COVID protocols, a small group of five community volunteers planted 250 plants and sowed the seed mix at the small site along the Upper Applegate River. We will continue working to restore native plants and pollinator habitat along the Upper Applegate River in 2021.

For more information: Native Pollinator Planting Along the Applegate River Blog Post


Upper Applegate Watershed Restoration Project (UAW)

UAW community field trip with the Forest Service in the Upper Applegate.

ANN has worked collaboratively with the Forest Service for many years on the UAW Project. We have attended an exhaustive amount of public meetings and field trips about the project, and have done extensive on-the-ground monitoring of the project proposals.

We have worked hard over the years of project planning to help focus the project on thinning in plantation stands and fire protection measures directly around homes and communities, including manual thinning and prescribed fire. We also worked to keep logging and manual thinning away from important wildlands and intact habitats scattered across the Upper Applegate Valley.

In the end, the Forest Service approved a project we can mostly support. The logging, manual thinning and prescribed fire proposals are located primarily in tree plantations or adjacent to rural communities at risk to wildfire impacts. Although we are following the project, the impacts of this portion of the project have been greatly minimized by ANN’s years of collaborative efforts.

Unfortunately, two new OHV trails we strongly opposed were approved in the Final Decision for the UAW Project; however, three additional OHV trails proposed by the Forest Service, including routes in the Boaz Mountain Roadless Area, were withdrawn due to pressure from ANN and long-time rural Applegate residents.

In 2021, we intend to monitor UAW project design and implementation. We have developed a UAW Community Implementation Review Team to continue ensuring the project meets the habitat restoration goals promoted by ANN and local community members during the long UAW collaborative process. Once projects are approved, we can’t just walk away and forget about it. ANN has a commitment to seeing collaborative projects through to the end, to ensure the ecological commitments made by the agencies are met.


OHV Closures

An illegal OHV route that ANN has targeted for closure on the Siskiyou Crest.

ANN has been working for many years to monitor OHV impacts and advocate for the closure of unauthorized OHV routes in the Applegate Watershed. Progress has been slow but steady as we document impacts and advocate for solutions. BLM in particular has been slow to act, but is directed to address the issue in 2021. We hope to hold their feet to the fire.

We are also working on illegal OHV route closures on the Siskiyou Crest and in designated Botanical Areas on Forest Service land. Recently some progress has been made and numerous routes have been either approved for closure, or initial steps have been made to physically close them to illegal OHV use. We hope to continue closing damaging OHV routes and documenting impacts across the Applegate Watershed in 2021.


Moving Forward in 2021

A pre-COVID ANN hike in 2019. We hope when the pandemic ends to lead public hikes once again.

Although 2020 was a long and difficult year on many levels. ANN has continued to build our grassroots movement advocating for the public lands of the Applegate Valley. We have made progress on many levels, but have also faced challenges and disappointments. With the closing of 2020 comes hope for 2021. Please help us defend the Applegate River watershed, advocate for responsible environmental policies, and build a grassroots movement to permanently protect the wildlands of the Applegate.

Your support in 2021 will help us achieve our goals and keep the Applegate, wild, spectacularly beautiful and uniquely diverse. In the Applegate Valley we have so much to appreciate and so much to defend. Join us in 2021 and make a generous tax deductible donation today!

Donate to ANN!

Experiencing fire ecology firsthand in the Devil Fire

The Devil Fire burning below Kangaroo Mountain in the Red Buttes Wilderness. Photo: USFS, Brett Brown

This summer while wind-driven wildfires raged throughout the region, tragically burning homes and communities, the Devil Fire quietly burned through the headwaters of the Applegate River watershed in the Red Buttes Wilderness Area. Threatening no homes or communities, the ironically named Devil Fire burned through intact conifer forests, chaparral, and mixed evergreen forests, restoring fire as a natural process and creating highly beneficial wildfire effects.

The Devil Fire began as a human ignition of unknown origin, high on the Siskiyou Crest near Upper Devil’s Peak on the Klamath River side of the ridge, at about the same time as the nearby Almeda and Slater Fires. Pushed by strong winds and hidden under a thick blanket of smoke from fires across the region, the Devil Fire was not even detected until September 9 when it had reached roughly 500 acres and was well established in the remote backcountry of the Kangaroo Inventoried Roadless Area.

This photograph depicts conditions around Upper Devils Peak (left) and upper Portuguese Creek before the Devil Fire began. The area is steep, inaccessible and dominated by montane chaparral that burned in the 2012 Fort Goff Complex.

Burning through montane chaparral on exposed south-facing slopes, the fire initially took hold during incredibly dry and exceptionally windy conditions. The extremely rocky terrain and light fuels regenerated after the 2012 Fort Goff Fire moderated fire behavior, however, the strong winds fueled fire growth to both the north and south. Once the wind died down, both fire intensity and spread significantly diminished and portions of the fire self-extinguished on the recently burned south-facing slopes above the Klamath River.

By September 11, the Devil Fire had burned north over the Siskiyou Crest near the rocky, rugged summit of Rattlesnake Mountain and into the Butte Fork of the Applegate River. The Butte Fork is the main drainage in the Red Buttes Wilderness Area and contains some of the most intact old-growth forest remaining in the Applegate River watershed. Although large portions of the Red Buttes Wilderness Area, the Kangaroo Inventoried Roadless Area and the Butte Fork drainage have burned in recent years, the Devil Fire backed downhill into areas with no recorded fire history.

Low severity, understory fire effects on the lower Butte Fork maintained a green canopy of old-growth trees, while much of the understory vegetation burned.

Finding sufficient fuels and dry early fall weather, the Devil Fire continued to burn in the Butte Fork watershed below the towering summits of Red Butte, Kangaroo Mountain, Desolation Peak and Rattlesnake Mountain until mid-October. The few fire personnel assigned to the fire essentially allowed the fire to burn down the rugged and inaccessible northern slopes of the Siskiyou Crest to the Butte Fork drainage, where for the most part the fire was extinguished both naturally and with a little help from fire crews. In only one location did the fire cross the lower Butte Fork drainage, burning both sides of the stream down to its confluence with the Middle Fork Applegate River.

Low severity fire along the Butte Fork Trail.

The mosaic created by the Devil Fire consists of largely low to moderate severity fire effects. In total, the Devil Fire burned at 71% low to very low severity, 11% moderate severity and 18% high severity. By and large, the low to moderate severity fire occurred in forested habitats, while the high severity fire burned in stands of montane chaparral.

Burning under moderated weather conditions and a heavy smoke inversion, the mosaic in the Butte Fork canyon and in the Red Buttes Wilderness Area includes 86% low severity, 6% moderate and 8% high severity fire effects. For about a month and half, the forests of the Butte Fork canyon burned as a vast, low intensity, understory fire, cleaning up fuels and burning back understory vegetation, while maintaining the old-growth forest canopy that dominates the watershed.

A Soil Burn Severity map produce by Forest Service Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) teams for the Devil Fire shows a diverse mosaic of fire effects. The green is very low severity, the bluish-green is low severity, yellow is moderate severity and red represents high severity fire.
Fire intensity was moderated by heavy smoke inversions and favorable weather conditions, creating a vast understory fire in the Butte Fork canyon.

The heavy smoke inversion blanketing the region and covering the sun throughout southern Oregon and northern California trapped humidity, reduced ambient air temperatures and limited air movement across the Devil Fire area, essentially suffocating the fire as it slowly burned down the steep slopes of the Siskiyou Crest and into the dark forested canyon of the Butte Fork.

With the Devil Fire area now open to the public, you can hike the Shoofly and Butte Fork Trails through the fire area. The hike winds along the Butte Fork Applegate River among massive old trees blackened but not killed by the fire. As you walk through the charcoal and soot of the Devil Fire, enjoy the lush green canopy and the rushing stream.

Minimal torching and tree mortality characterize the fire effects in the lower Butte Fork canyon.

This coming spring and summer, the understory will sprout back in renewal, triggering fresh new woody growth for browsing deer and elk, abundant berry crops, and a profusion of wildflowers creating pollen and nectar for local bees, butterflies and other pollinating species. Cavities or hollows have been burned into both standing snags and live trees, creating nesting and denning habitat for Northern spotted owls, Pacific fisher, black bear, goshawks, woodpeckers, song birds and a multitude of wildlife species. New snags have been created, old snags have been deposited onto the forest floor and into the wild stream, creating habitat complexity.

Like all things in nature, the Devil Fire is part of the cycle of life, death and rejuvenation. These systems have adapted to wildfire as one of the many processes that shape vegetation and habitat conditions across the landscape. The Devil Fire burned its legacy into the forests of the Applegate and has the potential to leave an impression on all those who experience it firsthand. For many, the diversity of its mosaic, the beauty of its renewal, and the abundance fire creates is both surprising and inspirational.

Please go out and experience the Devil Fire and the Butte Fork canyon for yourself. The area can be explored along the Shoofly and Butte Fork Trails. Go check out your local fire adapted forests and experience their fiery renewal!

The beautiful Butte Fork Applegate River following the 2020 Devil Fire.

Butte Fork Trailhead Directions:

Horse Camp Trail Access: Follow Upper Applegate Road past the Applegate Dam and around Applegate Reservoir to the intersection of Carberry Creek Road and Elliott Creek Road. Turn left on Elliott Creek Road and continue driving past Seattle Bar to the California/Oregon border. Immediately after the pavement ends, at a wide intersection, turn sharply to the right on Middle Fork Road (FS Road 1040). Continue 3.7 miles up the Middle Fork Road and look for the Horse Camp Trailhead on the left. Park at the trailhead and hike the trail to the first trail junction, heading right on the Butte Fork Trail.

Shoofly Trail Access: Follow the directions above, but pass up the Horse Camp Trail and follow Middle Fork Road another 1.3 miles upstream, turning left on a large bridge and staying on road 1040. Continue uphill for roughly 2 miles to the Shoofly Trailhead on the left. The Shoofly Trail drops quickly to the Butte Fork Trail. Once on the Butte Fork Trail you can head downstream (left) into the fire area or upstream (right) along the Butte Fork Trail into the 2012 Hello Fire area with the Devil Fire just across the canyon.

Hiking the Butte Fork Trail.

ANN Native Pollinator Planting Project on the Upper Applegate River

Working within COVID-19 restrictions, ANN organized a small crew for our recent volunteer planting, and practiced social distancing while planting native pollinator plants along the Upper Applegate River.

Pollinators are fundamental for a healthy ecosystem and helping improve habitat for imperiled pollinators in the Applegate is important to us. For the past three years ANN has been working to facilitate a native plant and pollinator restoration project on a unique valley bottom parcel of Forest Service land, located directly adjacent to the Upper Applegate River. ANN identified this small parcel for pollinator and native plant restoration in 2016 during Forest Service project planning in the Upper Applegate. Our goal for this project is to increase native plant abundance and species diversity that will benefit native pollinator populations. We are also working to reduce non-native and noxious weeds at the site.

Heartleaf milkweed (Asclepias cordifolia)

We chose this site due to its spectacular potential for restoration, its already important habitat features and its accessibility for local residents and volunteer crews. Located next to the river, the site contains highly valuable pollinator habitat, abundant water, a wide variety of microclimates, existing native plant populations, oak/pine woodland, riparian forest, and a large, relatively weedy open meadow where we will focus our efforts to restore native plant habitat.

The site also contains some unique native plants such as large populations of Douglas’ grasswidow (Olsynium douglasii), Nuttall’s larkspur (Delphinium nuttallianum), and a small but robust population of the locally uncommon heartleaf milkweed (Asclepias cordifolia). Heartleaf milkweed is loved by many native pollinators and is a larval host plant for monarch butterflies. The West Coast population of monarch butterflies has crashed in the last two years and they are now being considered for protection under the Endangered Species Act.

Shortly after we identified the site for pollinator restoration plantings we worked with the Forest Service to create a rock barrier, eliminating vehicle access to the majority of the site. This barrier was meant to protect future restoration efforts from damage by inappropriate vehicle use. We then began working with former Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest wildlife biologist, Bonnie Allison, to do the initial wave of restoration plantings. Bonnie had secured funding through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) for native plant and pollinator restoration plantings along the Upper Applegate River, and we worked with her to include this little parcel of public land.

Year 1

Hot rock penstemon (Penstemon deustus).

That first year we planted hundreds of plants grown by the Forest Service at their Dorena Nursery, grown from seed collected locally by Klamath-Siskiyou Native Seeds. This initial planting included hot rock penstemon (Penstemon deustus), tall woolly buckwheat (Eriogonum elatum var. villosum), Lemmon’s beardtongue (Keckiella lemmonii), and showy milkweed (Asclepias speciosa). The hot rock penstemon took particularly well in the rocky tufts of bedrock that punctuate the grassy flat, and three years later, many robust, flowering plants provide pollen and nectar for native bees that are highly attracted to this species’ small cream to yellow flowers.

We were excited to plant the tall woolly buckwheat, a native valley bottom species with very limited distribution across the Applegate Valley. We assume this species may have been historically abundant, but populations were likely impacted by early mining operations, settlement and agriculture in the valley bottom. Currently, we know of two small populations of tall woolly buckwheat that grow on the shoulder of Upper Applegate Road, one population on the shoulder of Little Applegate Road, a few plants west of Ruch in rocky soil along the Applegate River, and a small population at Fish Hatchery Park. Extremely late blooming, these plants colonize and thrive on dry, harsh sites, often in sandy, cobbly or otherwise well drained soils at the valley bottom or along the floodplain of the Applegate River. Outside the Applegate Valley the only other place these plants grow in Oregon is around Klamath Lakes and reportedly at one site in Douglas county that was observed in 1899 by famed botanist John Leiberg.

The tall woolly buckwheat we planted were were grown from seeds collected just across the road from our restoration site, at one of only two known populations in the Upper Applegate. Unfortunately, this existing population grows on the shoulder of the county road and could be easily impacted by noxious weed spread, disturbance from road maintenance or roadside herbicide spraying. Our goal is establish a more stable and protected population in the small valley bottom, public land parcel across the road at our native pollinator plant restoration site. Numerous of the plantings from that first season are now established and have started flowering and producing seed.

Tall woolly wild buckwheat (Eriogonum elatum var. villosum) blooming near Upper Applegate Road. These mature plants were the seed source for our nursery stock. Photo credit: Klamath-Siskiyou Native Seeds

Year 2

Last year, the Forest Service donated plants they had grown at their Dorena Nursery, that were leftover from their other planting projects around the district, including yarrow (Achillea millefolium) and willow dock (Rumex salicifolius). The yarrow took well and is now established in dry, well-drained locations around the site.

Additionally we planted more tall woolly buckwheat plants, western verbena (Verbena lasciostachys), Oregon sunshine (Eriophyllum lanatum), mule’s ears (Wyethia angustifolia), and balsamroot (Baslmamorhiza deltodiea), grown by Klamath-Siskiyou Native Seeds, from seed collected near the project site. We also seeded numerous native wildflowers in small plots around the site. Despite last year’s dry winter and spring, some seed establishment was successful and will hopefully persist creating stable, naturally reproducing populations.

Year 3

This year, we were fortunate to receive funding from the Ashland Food Co-op Gives Grant Program. This generous funding allowed us to contract Klamath-Siskiyou Native Seeds to grow out 14 species of native nursery plants from locally collected native seeds. Klamath-Siskiyou Native Seeds also donated 4o silver lupine plants (Lupinus albifrons), over 20 Lemmon’s needle grass (Achnatherum lemmonii) plants and a native wildflower seed mix, including 16 native species of wildflowers native to low elevations in the Applegate Valley.

An ANN volunteer planting native pollinator plants at our restoration site along the Upper Applegate River.

Working under COVID-19 regulations, we organized a small group of volunteers for a socially distanced volunteer planting day. Our small crew of five people spread out across the site to meet COVID protocols, and we planted over 250 native plants throughout a portion of the project area. We planted perennial wildflowers, native grasses, and more tall woolly buckwheat. We also sowed the wildflower seed mix with numerous perennial and annual species within the planting area. We hope to have abundant rain this year that will benefit plant establishment, bring beautiful spring flowers and provide enhanced habitat for native pollinator species.

This project is just one example of how ANN gives back to the landscape of the Applegate. Our goals are not only to defend wildlands, oppose damaging public land projects, and protect biodiversity, but also to provide stewardship opportunities for local residents. This hands-on public land stewardship encourages a deep connection to place, benefiting the communities of the Applegate Valley and the local wildlife. ANN will continue working on our native plant and pollinator restoration site in the Upper Applegate Valley and other stewardship projects on the beautiful public lands of the Applegate Watershed.

Thanks to the Ashland Food Co-op Gives Grant Program for supporting our work in the Applegate Valley!

BLM sells Bear Grub Timber Sale, along with timber sales above Wilderville and North Applegate

A group selection logging unit in the Wellington Wildlands at the headwaters of China Gulch. The large, fire resistant trees in open groves and marked with white paint are marked for logging in the Bear Grub Timber Sale.

Two years ago ANN began working to defend the Wellington Wildlands and the forests around Ruch from BLM timber sales. First came the Middle Applegate Timber Sale, which proposed to log the heart of the Wellington Wildlands and numerous important watersheds between Humbug Creek and Ruch. ANN successfully campaigned against this sale, forcing the BLM to cancel the project in the face of significant public opposition. Although encouraged by the cancellation of this sale, ANN knew this was not the end of BLM’s logging plans in our region.

Within days of canceling the Middle Applegate Timber Sale, the Medford District BLM proposed the Bear Grub Timber Sale, which simply shifted the planning area to the east, to include portions of the Wellington Wildlands on China Gulch, the forests around the East Applegate Ridge Trail, Sterling Creek, and in the mountains between the Little Applegate River canyon and Talent, Oregon.

A Stop Bear Grub rally in Ruch at the heart of the Applegate Valley.

For the last year ANN and a committed group of local residents have led the opposition to the Bear Grub Timber Sale. We have organized our neighbors, connected with hikers and people recreating on the East Applegate Ridge Trail, written Letters to the Editor, Guest Opinion pieces in local newspapers, held public meetings and rallies, spoke on local radio programs, developed the Stop Bear Grub webpage and yard signs, and raised awareness of this threat to anyone who would listen. We also wrote extensive public comments on the BLM’s Environmental Analysis, and have officially filed Administrative Protests opposing the sale.

On October 29, 2020 the Medford District BLM auctioned off the Bear Grub Timber Sale, along with two additional timber sales in the Applegate Valley, and one near Butte Falls. Unfortunately, all three Applegate Valley timber sales sold to single bidders for their appraised price.

Watch a collection of photos and interviews in this video of the Bear Grub Timber Sale auction rally on October 29, 2020 in Medford, Oregon.

Read more details about each of the timber sales below:

The Bear Grub Timber Sale

The BLM estimates that the Bear Grub Timber Sale could produce over 12 million board feet of timber in 72 units and on 702 acres. As noted earlier this includes multiple commercial logging units in the Wellington Wildlands and along the East Applegate Ridge Trail. It also includes beautiful old forest on the northeastern face of Bald Mountain and at the headwaters of Wagner Creek.

A group selection logging unit proposed in the Bear Grub Timber Sale along the East Applegate Ridge Trail.

The project proposes extensive “group selection logging” units where staggered clearcuts up to 4 acres in size and across up to 30% of a unit could be logged. Whole groves of large, dominant, fire resistant tree will be cleared from mature, closed canopy forest. This will dry out forest stands, accelerate wind speeds, increase ambient air temperatures, replace mature fire resistant forest with highly flammable young trees and shrubs, and significantly increase fire risks in both the long and short term.

Many of these treatments are located directly adjacent to homes and communities, including residential portions of the Applegate. The project also includes the watersheds directly above Talent and Phoenix, Oregon. Currently recovering from the Almeda Fire, the communities of southern Oregon are working to become more fire resilient, while BLM undermines those efforts with timber sales creating conditions that are highly conducive to fast moving, high severity fires.

The Bear Grub Timber Sale sold to Timber Products Company, based in Springfield, Oregon, for $1,085,651 at the October 29, 2020 BLM timber auction, but it cannot be implemented until the many Administrative Protests filed by conservation organizations, local residents and concerned citizens have been processed by the BLM. In the meantime, ANN is looking for opportunities to continue opposing this sale and are encouraging conservation interests throughout the state to consider focusing efforts on litigating this sale. We will keep you posted!

Savage Murph Timber Sale

The forested ridge in the foreground will be logged in the Savage Murph Timber Sale.

The Savage Murph Timber Sale was originally proposed as the Applegate portion of the massive Pickett West Timber Sale proposed by Medford District BLM’s Grants Pass Field Office in 2016. The project originally included commercial logging units spread across the region, from the Rogue River downstream of Grants Pass, to the mountains above Selma in the Illinois Valley, and into the North Applegate area above Missouri Flat Road.

ANN took a leading role in exposing this old-growth logging project for what it was, a massive timber grab disguised as “fuel reduction.” Half of the units proposed for logging were between 150 and 240 years old and contained significant old-growth characteristics. The project proposed heavy industrial logging, utilizing the Rogue Basin Cohesive Forest Restoration Strategy promoted by the Southern Oregon Forest Restoration Collaborative and local federal land management agencies. This would have allowed logging late successional forests down to 16-25 trees per acre and 30% canopy cover, removing potentially tens of thousands of old-growth trees.

Due to the efforts of ANN, many local southern Oregon residents, and our conservation allies, much of this timber sale, including the vast majority of the old-growth or late successional units, were canceled due to public opposition and impacts to the red tree vole, a prey source for the Northern spotted owl.

The Savage Murph Timber Sale originally included proposals to log old-growth stands and diverse intact habitats, but many of those units have been withdrawn over the years as the BLM offered, but could not sell the Savage Murph Timber Sale. Unfortunately, a significantly scaled-back version of the Savage Murph Timber Sale, including 4 units and 115 acres, sold to Estramado Logging LLC for $51,077 at the timber auction on October 29th and logging could begin at anytime.

Wild Bill Timber Sale

The Wild Bill Timber Sale is located near Wilderville on BLM lands and was originally a part of the proposed Pickett West Timber Sale. The entire Wild Bill Timber Sale consists of one, 54-acre commercial logging unit. The project was purchased by Macs LLC for $90,977 and logging could begin at anytime.

Managing for “Resilience” with Alternative Facts

Old forest proposed for logging under the proposed provisions of the IVM Project in the Late Mungers Timber Sale near Mungers Butte.

In the era of “alternative facts” and politically motivated misinformation, federal land managers, like those at the Medford District BLM, have created a misleading and Orwellian narrative promoting heavy industrial logging as “restoration” and “fuel reduction,” while ignoring or masking the environmental impacts. According to this narrative, the solution to every environmental problem is more logging, more roads, and more resource extraction.

This campaign of misinformation has reached a crescendo with the innocuous sounding Integrated Vegetation Management for Resilient Lands (IVM) Project. Although called “Integrated Vegetation Management” this project would be largely implemented as commercial timber sales. Approval of the IVM Project would authorize up to 20,000 acres of commercial logging and 90 miles of new road construction per decade on Medford District BLM lands. According to the BLM these authorizations would have “no sunset date” and could be utilized to log many tens of thousands of acres and build many hundreds of miles of new road.

The light purple area on this map depicts “potential commercial treatments,” or in other words, areas that will be approved for potential logging. As you can see, it is most of the BLM landscape in southwestern Oregon.

The IVM proposes to allow the BLM to implement these activities virtually anywhere within the 800,000-acre planning area, without disclosing or identifying specific units or locations. This would include up to 684,185 acres of potential “treatment areas” extending across almost the entire Medford District BLM, from the Wild and Scenic Rogue River, south and east to the western slope of the Southern Cascade Mountains, and across the arid foothills of the Applegate and Rogue Valleys.

Old dominant trees proposed for logging in the Bear Grub Timber Sale.

The IVM Project, combined with logging that is currently proposed in the BLM’s “Harvest Land Base,” like the Bear Grub Timber Sale, would change the face of Southwestern Oregon, fragmenting some of our last intact BLM forest lands and altering the scenic character of our region. Unfortunately, the IVM Project is specifically designed to promote logging in Late Successional Reserve forest designated to protect habitat for the Northern spotted owl. It also proposes logging activities in designated Recreation Areas, adjacent to communities, in suitable Northern spotted owl habitats, Riparian Reserves designated to protect stream corridors and in wildland habitats like the Mungers Wildlands, west of the Williams Valley.

Some action alternatives proposed by the BLM allow the logging of large, fire resistant trees up to 36” in diameter, in stands over 120 years of age, and to as low 30% canopy retention. This will require the retention of some large trees, but certainly not a forest. Recent examples of logging to 30% canopy cover include the O’Lickety Timber Sale in the Little Applegate River Watershed, which triggered “accelerated overstory mortality,” a condition in which residual overstory trees left after a disturbance such as logging can sustain dramatic mortality outbreaks. These outbreaks can be associated with significant microclimate alterations, canopy loss, stand desiccation, bark beetle mortality, and windthrow from high winds and/or heavy snow loads.

Forests logged to roughly 30% canopy cover in the O’Lickety Timber Sale are hardly the model for forest resilience. This photo was taken two years after logging, with two winters worth of windthrow that further degraded and exacerbated the decline in forest canopy conditions.

Action alternatives proposed in the IVM Project would also allow the clearing of up to 4-acre group selection “openings” in mature, fire resistant forest and across up to 20% of a given stand. In these areas, whole groves will be targeted for logging, with all or virtually all vegetation removed. For all practical purposes this logging will create a series of staggered clearcuts fragmenting formerly mature, closed canopy forests. These so-called group selection “openings” will look, act and respond like small clearcuts. They will fragment forest habitats, damage or remove Northern spotted owl habitat, reduce fire resilience, increase fuel loading, and degrade scenic values throughout our region.

Percent Carbon Dioxide Emissions by Sector in Oregon 2011-2015

The impact of logging large, old trees and significantly reducing canopy cover also translates into a net loss in carbon sequestration, especially because the logging is proposed in LSR forests which are intended to maintain and promote late successional forest values. In both the long and short term, logging significantly reduces our local forest’s potential to sequester carbon and mitigate or slow the effects of climate change. In fact, recent research from Oregon State University and the University of Idaho demonstrates that the timber industry represents the largest source of carbon emissions in the state of Oregon, accounting for 35% of total emission levels.

A “group selection” clearcut in the Sterling Sweeper Timber Sale on BLM lands in the Little Applegate River Watershed.

Despite the many damaging activities proposed in the IVM Project, perhaps the most troubling aspect of the project is its attempt to avoid current requirements under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to conduct detailed environmental review, analyze and disclose potential impacts, and conduct meaningful public engagement. If the IVM is approved, large timber sales could be authorized without project specific Environmental Analysis, site specific scientific review, adequate public comment or meaningful public involvement. Instead large timber sales could be approved by the BLM through an internal and non-transparent Determination of NEPA Adequacy (DNA) process. The public would no longer be consulted as partners in the NEPA process, but would instead be informed when decisions have been made.

Under this scenario, protest periods (which BLM is also proposing to eliminate through a different process) and litigation would become the public’s only form of meaningful involvement, leading to increased controversy, gridlock and legal action. Under the Trump administration, proposed BLM rulemaking changes and projects like the IVM are working to limit public involvement, reduce NEPA requirements and discourage site specific scientific review. We are fearful that this approach will degrade our forest environments, make our communities less fire resilient and bring the timber wars back to southwest Oregon.

Old, fire resistant forests proposed for logging under the proposed provisions of the IVM Project in the Murphy Creek Watershed.

Please comment on the IVM Project between now and October 19, 2020. Ask the BLM to:

  • Extend the current public comment period for the IVM project by an additional 30 to 60 days. Commenting on this project and its over 600,000 acre “treatment area” is complex, difficult and time consuming. The public needs more time to read the over 300 page Programmatic Environmental Assessment, consider the impacts, make meaningful suggestions and provide substantive public comment.
  • Withdraw the current IVM Project and work towards more meaningful public involvement, transparency, and collaboration with diverse stakeholders to create ecological and socially responsible public land management projects.  
  • Implement site specific NEPA Analysis and full public comment periods on all commercial logging and road building projects like the agency has in the past. NEPA analysis and the public involvement process it requires substantially improves land management outcomes and reduces controversy by encouraging collaboration, transparency and science-based land management planning.
  • Do not utilize a Programmatic NEPA approach to undermine public involvement, eliminate public comment and reduce scientific oversight of BLM logging projects.
  • Complete a full scientific analysis of the impacts of the IVM Project to climate change and carbon sequestration.
  • Do not remove, modify or downgrade Northern spotted owl habitat in LSR forest
  • Do not log large, fire resistant trees over 20″ diameter, implement group selection logging or remove canopy cover to as low as 30%. These activities impact habitat values and increase fire hazards.
  • Due to the massive scope and scale of the proposed project a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) should be required to address substantive concerns, environmental effects, and social concerns surrounding the over 800,000 acre planning.

Please submit EA comments or questions to Kristi Mastrofini, Medford District Planning and Environmental Coordinator by mailing the BLM, Attn: IVM EA Comments, 3040 Biddle Road, Medford, Oregon 97504; or through email at BLM_OR_MD_IVM@blm.gov.

You may also submit comments and view agency documents via BLM’s ePlanning register on the project’s website by selecting “Comment on Document” in the Documents section of the webpage. https://eplanning.blm.gov/eplanning-ui/project/123406/510

Supporting ANN in the Era of Coronavirus & Climate Change

Want to support ANN and the environment of the Applegate? The next 50 donors of $100 or more will be invited to the ANN Donor Appreciation Event on September 19, 2020 to enjoy live music and this beautiful view. The spacious lawn at a private residence in the Little Applegate Valley will allow space for social distancing. We hope to see you there.

We live in an era of turmoil and crisis. From climate change and the global coronavirus pandemic, to the policies of an administration that has slashed regulations, degraded our environment, empowered corporate and industrial interests, and dismantled the public institutions meant to protect our environment and public health. Although many of these problems are national or global in nature, they are affecting our lives here in the Applegate Valley. Now, more than ever, we need to defend the last wildlands in our region, and ANN is taking the lead in advocating for the land, forests, wildlife and streams of the Applegate River Watershed.

We all have had to alter our lives to safely and responsibly navigate the coronavirus pandemic; we all are also dealing on a daily basis with extended droughts, low stream flows, and the consequences of climate change. At the same time, many of our elected officials fail to act and our local land managers are actively promoting projects that will implement industrial logging prescriptions, emit large amounts of carbon, degrade habitat conditions, reduce climate resilience, and increase fuel loading. This means ANN has been extremely busy advocating for conservation in our valley and fighting against projects that will impact our environment.

A small rally, sponsored by ANN, opposing the Bear Grub Timber Sale. We asked participants to wear masks and practice social distancing, while still using our collective voice to speak for the land.

Due to the chaos of the pandemic, the economic shut downs, and the stay-at-home orders implemented across the country and the state of Oregon this spring, 2020 has been difficult for many individuals, small businesses and non-profit organizations. For small grassroots organizations like ANN that depend on both the financial and organizational support of the local community, our typical means of public organizing, fundraising and outreach have been significantly altered. For many months, the public events, educational presentations, and hikes that typically help engage the public and facilitate fundraising opportunities for our organization have been canceled to protect the health of the public and our community.

Despite the situation with coronavirus, the tragic loss of life, the disruption of public health and safety, and the crippled economy, land management agencies like the Bureau of Land Management have continued and even accelerated the pace of commercial logging, road building and other destructive practices on our public land. In fact, they have taken advantage of these disruptions to plan controversial projects without public input, transparency or accountability. Local examples include the Bear Grub Timber Sale, Late Mungers Timber Sale and the Integrated Vegetation Management Project.

Beautiful old forest proposed for logging on Murphy Creek in the Late Mungers Timber Sale.

ANN is dedicated to defending the wildlands and forests of the Applegate. If you appreciate our work consider volunteering your time in support of our organization and its goals. You can also make a tax deductible donation to support our work.

ANN is currently working on a late summer campaign to raise $5,000, and we are offering the first 50 donors of at least $100 an opportunity to attend a small gathering in the Little Applegate Valley. The event will be held outdoors and will practice strict coronavirus social distancing protocols. Our intent is to have a small-scale Britt Festival-like experience at a private home in the beautiful Little Applegate Valley. Music for the event will be provided by a collection of currently out-of-work Oregon Shakespeare Festival actors and musicians. We will also have libations and dinner available for purchase at the event. Donate here to join us.

All proceeds will support ANN, and will help to not only protect the wildlands of the Applegate Valley, but also the forests that stabilize our global climate.

Oregon Shakespeare Festival actors and musicians playing at a recent outdoor event in the Applegate Valley.

DONATE NOW & JOIN US AT THE ANN DONOR APPRECIATION EVENT

Bear Grub Environmental Assessment Released: Comment Now!

Open, fire resistant forest in the Wellington Wildlands is proposed for logging in unit 8-2 of the Bear Grub Timber Sale.

After months of anticipation the Medford District Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has released the Environmental Assessment (EA) for the Bear Grub Timber Sale. Under the current proposal, the BLM plans to log between 1,034 and 1,445 acres in the region between Phoenix and Talent in the Rogue Valley, and Ruch in the Applegate Valley. According to BLM estimates the project would fill up to 3,222 log trucks of merchantable timber. The timber sale includes beautiful forests along the extremely popular East Applegate Ridge Trail, in the Wellington Wildlands, on Woodrat Mountain, Anderson Butte in the Little Applegate and Bald Mountain at the headwaters of Wagner Creek.

Despite the misleading rhetoric of the BLM, the Bear Grub Timber Sale is not restoration or fuel reduction. In fact, the project will log and produce timber at the expense of ecological, recreational, scenic and local economic values. Located near many homes and communities, this project will also significantly increase fire hazards and threaten our communities by removing large, fire resistant trees, dramatically reducing overstory canopy, desiccating forest stands and encouraging the development of dense, highly flammable, young trees and shrubs.

The newly released Bear Grub EA confirms what ANN has been observing throughout this process, that the BLM has abandoned meaningful community involvement and substantive environmental review. Designed around new Trump Administration NEPA standards intended to expedite project approval and minimize public input, no attempt was made by BLM to reach out to affected communities before release of the EA.

The analysis portion of the EA consists of a mere 79 pages, approximately half of what was has been the norm, and fails to adequately address many relevant concerns, including the affects of group selection logging on fuel loading, fire resistance, wildlife habitat and scenic values. The EA also confirms that extensive industrial logging is proposed to occur throughout the Bear Grub Planning Area, including significant canopy cover reductions requiring the removal of large, fire resistant overstory trees. Additionally, the BLM admits in the EA that project prescriptions that include extensive canopy removal, “could result in more rapid rates of surface fire spread in surface fuel models (Bear Grub EA P. A-98).”

The proposal includes heavy “selection” and “group selection” logging that would retain as little as 25% canopy cover. Group selection logging removes whole groves of mature, fire resistant forest by creating staggered clearcuts of up to 4 acres where complete or near complete tree removal is proposed. These staggered clearcuts could occur on up to 30% of a forested stand, creating forest fragmentation, increasing fire hazards, and reducing habitat values for species like the Northern spotted owl and the Pacific fisher.

Whole groves of mature, fire resistant forest are proposed for logging in group selection logging units throughout the Bear Grub Timber Sale.

Now that the EA is released, the BLM will be accepting public comment until July 13, 2020. ANN has been organizing local opposition to the Bear Grub Timber Sale and we need your support. Help us protect Wellington Wildlands, the East Applegate Ridge Trail and the beautiful forests of the Applegate Valley. Please comment on the Bear Grub Timber Sale.

BLM will be holding two separate virtual meetings about the Bear Grub Timber Sale on June 23 and June 25. Please consider signing up for these meetings and be ready to express your concerns with the Bear Grub Project. To register for a meeting, please email to BLM_OR_AFO_VMP@blm.gov, subject line “Registration and Questions”.

Click on the following link to take action and comment on the Bear Grub Timber Sale:

https://ann.secure.force.com/petition?pid=bgcomments

For the biggest impact and to ensure that BLM adequately considers your comments, please personalize this form letter. Take a few minutes to let BLM know specifically why you value these forests and why you are concerned about the Bear Grub Timber Sale. The information below is intended to help inform your comments. Please comment now!

Protect the forests of the Applegate Valley for future generations. Stop Bear Grub!

Bear Grub Timber Sale Issues, Concerns & Talking Points

  • Cancel the Bear Grub Timber Sale. The commercial portions of the Bear Grub Timber Sale will impact wildlife, fragment forest habitats, increase fire hazards, degrade scenic and recreational values, reduce our forest’s ability to sequester carbon and mitigate the effects of climate change.
  • Cancel all timber sale units in the 7,526-acre Wellington Wildlands, , 16-2C, 16-2D, 16-3, 17-1, & 17-3.
  • Cancel all timber sale units on or near the East Applegate Ridge Trail, including units: 13-1, 13-3, 13-4, 13-5, 13-6, 13-7, 13-10A, 13-10B, & 14-2.
  • Cancel timber sale units on Bald Mountain (a proposed Area of Critical Environmental Concern), including units 21-2, 27-4, & 27-8.
  • Cancel all group selection logging. This form of incremental clearcut logging will increase fire hazards, degrade forest habitats and impact important recreational values.
  • Implement a 20″ diameter limit to protect large, fire resistant trees, old forest habitats, and maintain canopy conditions important for Northern spotted owls, Pacific fishers, and to suppress understory fuel loading.
  • Maintain all Northern spotted owl habitat by retaining large trees and canopy cover.
  • Build no new roads, either temporary or permanent.

For more information: stopbeargrub.org

For information on specific Bear Grub Timber Sale units follow the links below:

The Bear Grub Timber Sale and the Wellington Wildlands

Bear Grub and the Bigger Picture on BLM Lands

Bear Grub Timber Sale: Bald Mountain Units

Bear Grub Timber Sale: Save the East Applegate Ridge Trail from logging!

Wellington Wildlands still threatened by the Bear Grub Timber Sale

Bear Grub Timber Sale: Deming Ridge Units

IVM and Late Mungers Project Updates: BLM Continues its Assault on Public Input, Scientific Review and Public Forests

A view across the Late Munger Planning Area proposed for logging under the IVM Project.

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is one of our nation’s most important environmental laws, and has successfully been used for decades to infuse the public interest into the public land management process. NEPA encourages public accountability, scientific rigor and collaboration. It requires federal land managers to solicit public input, consider public comments, disclose the impacts of proposed management activities, analyze the cumulative effects and conduct a detailed, site specific scientific review for all major land management activities.

NEPA has consistently made federal land management projects more thoughtful, innovative, environmentally responsible, scientifically credible and socially acceptable. Yet, under the direction of the Trump administration, many government agencies are being pressured to streamline the NEPA process, eliminate meaningful public comment and reduce scientific review for land management projects. The goal is to eliminate public involvement, expedite resource extraction, reduce regulation, and promote industrial land management activities on public lands.

Integrated Vegetation Management for Resilient Lands Programmatic EA

A unit proposed for commercial logging near Murphy, Oregon in the Late Munger Planning Area and in Late Successional Reserve forest.

Locally, the Medford District BLM is implementing these policies through the innocuously named Integrated Vegetation Management for Resilient Lands Project (IVM). Although the project purposefully sounds benign, terms like “integrated vegetation management” and in this case, “resilience,” are euphemisms for commercial logging and serve only to mask the impacts and objectives of timber management with misleading language.

Under the IVM Project, the BLM has proposed to allow up to 4,000 acres of commercial logging and 10 miles of new road construction per year. This would include up to 25,000 acres of commercial logging and 90 miles of new road construction over a ten year period. These provisions would apply to the entire Medford District BLM, with the exception of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument and Wilderness Areas on BLM land. According to the BLM these authorizations would have “no sunset” date and could theoretically be used to build hundreds of miles of new roads and to log many tens of thousands of acres.

Unfortunately, the IVM Project also focuses these commercial logging and road building activities in Late Successional Reserve forests intended to protect old forest habitat for the Northern spotted owl, Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC), Research Natural Areas and other areas outside the BLM’s “harvest land base,” and reserved for conservation purposes.

A timber sale unit in the Late Munger Project proposed above Highway 238 and the Applegate River.

To make matters worse, the BLM has proposed a programmatic planning approach, meaning that the agency will not be implementing existing public involvement or scientific analysis requirements for future timber sale and road building activities “tiered” to (agency-speak for tied to) the IVM Project. This would allow the agency to avoid both scientific and public scrutiny, while implementing industrial logging projects on public lands.

The BLM is working to remove both the public involvement process and public accountability in federal land management planning, while reducing or eliminating scientific analysis. The goal is to increase timber production on public lands, not to “restore resilience” as the BLM might suggest. Applegate Neighborhood Network strongly opposes this approach and believes we should keep the public in public lands.

Late Mungers Project

Old forest near the summit of Mungers Butte proposed for logging in the Late Mungers Project.

Although not currently approved or even scientifically analyzed, the BLM is assuming that they will be authorizing and implementing the IVM Project and has begun planning projects tiered to the still unauthorized provisions of the IVM.

The BLM has announced that one of the first projects to be implemented under the IVM framework will be the Late Mungers Project. Located in a large Late Successional Reserve (LSR) designated to protect important habitat for the Northern spotted owl, these forests sprawl across the ridges between Williams, Selma and Murphy, and are important for connectivity within the LSR network.

The area contains a patchwork of logged off plantation stands, lush, old-growth conifer forests, and unique habitats shaped by the region’s unusual serpentine soils. Although portions of the LSR have been heavily logged, other portions contain beautiful uncut forest habitats that create important habitat for species such as the Northern spotted owl, as well as its prey base, red tree voles and flying squirrels. Far ranging carnivores such as the Pacific fisher, cougar, bobcat, and black bear inhabit the area, along with goshawk, large populations of black-tailed deer, and a multitude of other wildlife species.

Currently little information is available about the Late Mungers Project, but a draft map has been released showing significant commercial logging units in old forest habitats on Mungers Butte, Powell Creek, Murphy Creek, Mungers Creek and numerous smaller tributary streams in the Williams Creek and Applegate River Watershed.

The BLM released this draft map of the Late Mungers Project. The green polygons show potential commercial logging units, while the blue shows non-commercial thinning units. Much of the project is located above the Williams Valley and Murphy Creek.

A Community Alternative

Because backcountry native forest logging does nothing to make our communities more fire safe and can create impacts to the health of our forests, Applegate Neighborhood Network, Klamath Forest Alliance, and the Williams Community Forest Project have designed and supported the Plantation Stand Alternative as a proposed action alternative for the IVM Project. This proposal would implement non-commercial fuel reduction thinning and prescribed fire within ¼ mile of communities and in plantation stands under 60 years old. This alternative would encourage the BLM to focus its limited resources closest to communities at risk or in the areas with the most altered forest stands and the highest need for habitat rehabilitation.

For analysis purposes we are defining “communities at risk” as rural residential communities or neighborhoods and incorporated towns with adjacent BLM lands. Non-commercial fuel reduction thinning and prescribed fire should be utilized in areas within a ¼ mile of private property boundaries in areas zoned for residential use.  

Under low to moderate fire conditions, non-commercial fuel reduction adjacent to communities can provide places for fire personnel to more safely engage a wildfire, before it burns into a community. Thinning and fuel reduction is most useful and cost-effective when it focuses treatments near homes and communities.

Finally, we believe that all projects proposed in the Plantation Stand Alternative should be vetted with a public comment period and a written document with some level of public disclosure, cumulative effects analysis and scientific review.

In the Plantation Stand Alternative we also propose that projects including commercial logging, widespread fuel reduction away from communities at risk, or located in LSR forest, Areas of Critical Environmental Concern, National Monuments, Riparian Reserves and other “District Defined Reserves,” should undergo a full NEPA analysis to ensure that the resources targeted for protection are maintained, preserved, or restored to their former abundance. This should include public comment periods and an Environmental Assessment or Environmental Impact Statement, as is currently required and these projects should not be authorized under the IVM Programmatic EA.

The authorizations proposed in the Plantation Stand Alternative should last ten years and should include rigorous monitoring to ensure the IVM Project actually increases community fire resilience and forest resilience. Following this ten year period, adaptive management should occur, altering forest prescriptions based on regional appropriate monitoring results.

Take Action

The BLM has recently announced that an Environmental Assessment for the IVM Project will be out in “late spring/early summer,” followed by a public comment period. The BLM has also announced that the Scoping Notice for the Late Mungers Project will be released this summer, officially putting the forests of the Late Mungers Planning Area at risk. Although we will need help during these important public comment periods, we also need folks to send letters to both their elected officials and BLM land managers now, asking that they keep the public in public lands and responsibly manage our public forest lands.

Old forest targeted for logging in the Late Mungers Project.

IVM Talking Points:

  • The level of timber harvest and new road construction currently proposed in the IVM Project is unacceptable and will damage fire resilience, wildlife habitat, community fire safety, and many other public land values.
  • The current focus in the IVM Project on creating timber harvest outputs in Late Successional Reserve forest, Areas of Critical Environmental Concern and other conservation based land management areas is inappropriate and inconsistent with land management direction in these important land use designations.  
  • It is important to maintain current levels of public involvement and NEPA analysis for commercial timber sales, commercial stewardship projects, and large scale fuel reduction projects on Medford District BLM lands.
  • The IVM Project should not be used to log conservation areas outside the “harvest land base” without scientific review or public comment. The focus should instead be placed on treating those areas on the landscape with the highest potential to encourage community fire safety and in the habitats most in need of rehabilitation (e.g. tree plantations).
  • Limit the scope of the IVM Programmatic EA to the proposed Plantation Stand Alternative, focusing limited resources on community fire protection (within ¼ mile of communities at risk) and in plantation stands under 60 years of age. This will address those areas most in need of treatment from both an ecosystem health and wildfire perspective.
  • Either cancel the Late Munger Project or focus the project entirely on non-commercial community fire protection measures around the communities of Murphy and Williams and/or in plantation stands under 60 years of age.

Send letters to the following public officials:

Medford District BLM, District Manager: Elizabeth Burghard

eburghar@blm.gov

Grants Pass Resource Area, Field Manager: William Dean

wdean@blm.gov

Senator Merkley’s SW Oregon Office: Amy Amrhein

Amy_Amrhein@merkley.senate.gov

Senator Wyden’s SW Oregon Office: Molly McCarthy

Molly_McCarthy@wyden.senate.gov

In Memory of Mike Kohn: A Friend to Many and Steward of the Land

Mike Kohn in 2019 on Sugarloaf Peak in the Kangaroo Inventoried Roadless Area.

Mike Kohn was a loving and steadfast advocate for the Applegate Valley, a backcountry hiker, a recent Applegate Neighborhood Network Board Member, a loving husband, father, and grandfather. He had deep roots in the Applegate Valley and spent much of his spare time working for the health of the land and the community of the region. In his many years around the Applegate Valley he forged many friendships within the community and deep bonds with the land around him. He worked on many community projects, and for numerous years worked as treasurer for the Applegate Trails Association where he was an integral part of developing, designing, securing approval for and funding the development of the East Applegate Ridge Trail.

A year ago Mike offered to join the ANN board as treasurer and we were not only excited, but honored. Mike was a pleasure to work with and served ANN well with his organizational skills, his knowledge of the Applegate landscape and his love of this community. Mike passed away in Medford on May 7, 2020 during his third bout of esophageal cancer. We will truly miss him.

Next time you hike the East Applegate Ridge Trail and look across the beautiful Applegate Valley, thank Mike for his years of dedication, and in his memory, strive to serve this place like he did.

Thank you Mike. We will continue working on behalf of this watershed in your honor.

In gratitude, the Applegate Neighborhood Network board

Below is a memorial written by Mike’s wife and long-time Applegate Valley resident, Diana Coogle. Mike and Diana were married last year on May 18th. It is with great sadness that we will celebrate their first wedding anniversary this year with a memorial of Mike’s life.


The Molto Bene community on Slagle Creek in the Applegate Valley in the 1970s. Mike is on the far right in this photo.

The death of Mike Kohn, at his home in Medford on May 7, 2020, has deprived the Applegate of one of its best friends.

Mike lived for many years at the Molto Bene commune on Slagle Creek, which he founded, with friends, in 1974, and where he raised his two daughters, Zoey and Allegra. Fifteen years ago he moved to Medford for easier access to his business, Home Comfort Hearth, which has stores in both Grants Pass and Phoenix. Although he never lost touch with his ties to the Applegate, his marriage to long-time Applegate resident Diana Coogle on May 18, 2019, after five years of hiking, skiing, and enjoying nature together, brought him into even closer touch to an area he loved.

In 2015 Mike joined the board of the Applegate Trails Association and served as its treasurer for several years. During that time he was instrumental in helping ATA get the East Applegate Ridge Trail approved and built. The East ART remained one of his favorite trails in the Applegate.

Mike Kohn and Diana Coogle helping build the East Applegate Ridge Trail in the spring of 2017.

Mike joined the board of the Applegate Neighborhood Network (ANN) in June, 2019 where, again, he served as treasurer. To have been a part of these organizations that protect the beautiful Applegate mountains and valleys was one Mike’s proudest and most significant contributions to a better world. He also participated in Jackson County’s juvenile justice program and served on the Phoenix Urban Renewal Agency and on the board of Options. He lived a life dedicated to that which was bigger than himself.

From the time he went to summer camp, as a child, on Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire, he was an adventurer in and lover of nature. Throughout his life he enjoyed hiking, backpacking, cross-country skiing, sailing, and rafting. He climbed Mt. Katahdin on a solo trip, rafted the Grand Canyon on a family reunion, and took numerous trips to the Trinity Alps and Marble Mountains Wilderness Areas, some solo, some with Diana or with others. He went cross-country skiing in the southern Oregon Cascades with the Grants Pass Nordic Club. He and Diana did a backpacking trip in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area only two months after his surgery for esophageal cancer in 2015, a real tribute to his vitality. Two years later they did the 13-day, 98-mile Alta Via 2 hike in the Dolomite Mountains of northern Italy, which he considered the apex of his outdoor career.

Mike survived two bouts of esophageal cancer, in 2015 and again in 2018, just before his wedding. The third attack, in 2020, was swift and fatal. He will be missed throughout the Applegate for the inspiring work he gave to its environmental health and by many friends who live here and around the country. He was a good father, a doting grandfather, a generous boss, a loyal friend, a conscientious community member, and a loving brother and uncle. He was an exemplary community member, and for Diana, a boon companion.

Mike in the 1970s.

Mike was born in Philadelphia in 1949, earned a BA in political science from Muhlenberg College in 1971, obtained Conscientious Objector status during the Vietnam War, and started his long business career by buying Chim Chiminey Sweepers in 1986. He was predeceased by his father (Lewis) and his mother (Patricia) and is survived by his wife, Diana Coogle; daughters Zoey Kohn (Scott Lochmann) and Allegra Stuart (Greg); grandchildren Morgan and Rosalie Stuart and Quincy and Nolan Lochmann; his sister, Janet Friedman; and his brother, Donald Kohn (Gail). Numerous nieces and nephews who loved him also survive him.

Mike reveling in the fall colors of the Applegate in the old-growth on the Middle Fork of the Applegate River along the Cameron Meadows Trail. Photo credit: Diana Coogle

The Bear Grub Timber Sale and the Wellington Wildlands

Open, highly fire resistant forest in the Wellington Wildlands proposed for group selection logging. The trees marked with white paint are proposed for removal in the Bear Grub Timber Sale.

The BLM’s Bear Grub Timber Sale is proposing numerous group selection logging units in the 7,526-acre Wellington Wildlands, a spectacular roadless area in the mountains north of Highway 238. Located between the small communities of Ruch and Applegate, the Wellington Wildlands support a diverse mosaic of arid grasslands, dense chaparral, beautiful madrone groves and white oak woodland with scattered stands of conifer forest.

Recently the BLM marked these units, identifying whole groves of mature forest for removal. In response, ANN has been out monitoring the timber sale units and what we have found is extremely troubling. The BLM has marked large group selection clearcuts throughout these beautiful stands, targeting highly fire resistant forests of Douglas fir at the headwaters of China Gulch.

Targeting and Degrading Fire Resistant Forests

The forests in upper China Gulch contain large, old trees with thick, insulating bark and high canopies that shade the forest floor, naturally suppressing understory growth and limiting understory fuel loads. Many of the stands targeted for group selection logging are open and spacious, but maintain closed canopy conditions. These habitats represent the most fire resistant forests on the landscape, are dominated by large, old trees and contain mature to late successional habitats.

The group selection clearcuts proposed in the Bear Grub Timber Sale would eliminate forest canopy, remove fire resistant trees, dry out forested stands, increase solar exposure and wind speeds, while regenerating young, highly flammable vegetation. This will dramatically increase fire hazards and fuel loading in both wildland habitats and near homes and communities in the Applegate Valley.


This stand targeted for group selection logging at the headwaters of China Gulch is a model for natural fire resistance. Converting this stand from open, late successional forest to dense, young stands of regenerating trees and shrubs will dramatically increase fire hazards and damage habitat values.

Destroying Wildlands & Impacting Recreational Values

The forests targeted for logging are also located within the proposed trail corridor for the Applegate Ridge Trail. Although still conceptual, the central portion of the Applegate Ridge Trail is proposed to extend from Highway 238 near Forest Creek —where the current East Applegate Ridge Trail meets the highway — to Humbug Creek, traversing the Wellington Wildlands.

This conceptual trail would connect with the Jack-Ash Trail, creating a contiguous non-motorized trail system from Ashland to Jacksonville and west to Grants Pass. The trail would connect communities and wildland habitat on the Applegate/Rogue River Divide. The proposal is extremely popular and has received significant community support. Yet, while the community works to protect the important recreational, economic and ecological values of the Applegate Ridge Trail, the BLM is proposing to log off these important forests, even before the trail can be developed.

The Bear Grub Timber Sale would turn the proposed Applegate Ridge Trail corridor into a stumpfield. Which do you prefer? Clearcut public forest or intact wildlands and recreational opportunities?

Damaging Wildlife Habitat

These roadless forests are not only important for recreation and as a scenic backdrop to our homes and our wineries in the Applegate Valley, but they are also important for wildlife. They contain complex habitat conditions important for species like the Northern spotted owl and the Pacific fisher. Black bear, cougar, large herds of black-tailed deer and many other species use the protection of these mature, closed canopy forests. They provide nesting, resting, denning, and thermal cover habitat for a multitude of species, while the adjacent grasslands, oak woodlands, and chaparral provide abundant hunting and foraging habitats.

The Bear Grub Timber Sale will riddle these mature, closed canopy forests with staggered clearcuts, degrading late successional forest habitat and damaging important wildlife habitat.

Emitting Carbon and Reducing Climate Resilience

The Bear Grub Timber Sale proposes to remove whole groves of large, overstory trees and will have a lasting impact on carbon storage, emissions and climate mitigation. In fact, group selection logging would convert old, carbon rich forests into grasslands, chaparral fields or young regenerating forest that is not only less effective at storing atmospheric carbon, but less resilient to the droughts, fires and the climactic swings associated with climate change.

Maintaining these mature forest stands and canceling the Bear Grub Timber Sale would preserve habitat, maintain cool, shaded forest conditions, retain soil moisture, protect stream flows, and support both fire and drought resistance.

Whole groves of carbon rich forest are proposed for removal in the Bear Grub Timber Sale, limiting the forest’s natural ability to store carbon and mitigate climate change.

Stop Bear Grub!

The destructive logging proposed at the headwaters of China Gulch in the Bear Grub Timber Sale in the Wellington Wildlands will impact scenic values, recreational values, wildlife habitats, community fire safety, our local economy and our ability to adapt to climate change. The Ruch area is known for its scenic beauty, its wineries, and its world-class hang gliding. It is also a spectacularly beautiful place to live. If implemented, everything we love about the Applegate Valley would be impacted by the Bear Grub Timber Sale and portions of our beloved Wellington Wildlands would be destroyed.

At this critical time we must ask ourselves, what will we pass on to the next generation in the Applegate Valley? Clearcuts or Wildlands? We know which we prefer! Save Wellington Wildlands and Stop Bear Grub!

Below is a gallery of photographs depicting stand conditions in commercial logging units proposed in the Bear Grub Timber Sale at the the headwaters of China Gulch and in the Wellington Wildlands.

We have Stop Bear Grub Yard Signs!

Want an easy way to demonstrate your opposition to the Bear Grub Timber Sale? Do you live on a visible road in the Applegate or Rogue Valley? ANN has made Stop Bear Grub yard signs and they are currently available for a donation. Get them while supplies last!

Order a Stop Bear Grub yard sign now!
Step 1 — Make a generous donation to ANN to help cover the cost of the yard signs. All donations over $20 will be eligible for a yard sign. Make donations here.

Step 2 — Contact ANN at the email address below and let us know what sign or signs you would like and we will contact you for pick up or delivery options: info@applegateneighborhood.network

Please donate now and show your support for the forests of Bear Grub!