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.
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.
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.
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 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.