Blog

A Week in the Life of ANN

For folks unfamiliar with what ANN does week to week on behalf of the forests and wildlands of the Applegate, check out our schedule for just this coming week alone! Every week ANN works hard to defend the places we live near and care deeply about in the Applegate.

Monday, December 5, 2016

The 2016 Gap Fire on the Siskiyou Crest near Condrey Mountain, just below the PCT

Grant deadline coming soon! ANN is constantly working to secure grant funding to keep our work going. Grant writing is time consuming and not always rewarding — the competition for limited environmental foundations and funders is fierce.

  • Work on scoping comments for the Gap Fire Salvage on the Siskiyou Crest. The Klamath National Forest wants to log high elevation forests burned in the 2016 Gap Fire. Red fir, white fir and hemlock forests are at risk on the Siskiyou Crest near Condrey Mountain!
  • Work on scoping comments for the East Applegate Ridge Trail EA. Our member organization, the Applegate Trails Association, has proposed this six-mile trail section from Sterling Creek Rd. to Highway 238 near Ruch. Once completed it will be the first section in the much-anticipated Applegate Ridge Trail that will extend from Sterling Creek to Grants Pass along the Applegate foothills.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Bald Mountain Unit in the Nedsbar Timber Sale
  • Meeting with the BLM regarding Nedsbar. The Nedsbar Timber Sale is not over yet! The BLM is promising to restructure and resell the Nedsbar Timber Sale, and it is likely that much of the same proposed environmental impacts will be included in the “repackaged” sale. ANN requested a meeting with the BLM in order to keep the ecological concerns of the Applegate community at the forefront. ANN will advocate for implementation of the Nedsbar Community Alternative or we will keep working to cancel the sale.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

An already fire-adapted forest in Rocky Gulch off North Applegate Road — burned in the 1987 Savage Creek Fire — slated for logging for supposed “fire resilency” in the Pickett West Timber Sale proposed by the Grants Pass BLM Resource Area.
  • Continue working on scoping comments for the Gap Fire Salvage Timber Sale and the East Applegate Ridge Trail EA.
  • Field work: Ground-truth the Pickett West Timber Sale. This massive timber sale includes many units in the western part of the Applegate Valley. The Grants Pass Resource Area has been unwilling to engage the Applegate Community through the AMA process for this timber sale and is ignoring the AMA mandates laid out in their 1994 RMP (Resource Management Plan), the RMP that they are planning the sale under.
  • Monthly ANN steering committee meeting at 6pm. Monthly ANN general meeting at 7pm at the Applegate Library. There’s always lots to talk about! The many environmental threats facing the Applegate Valley provide plenty of topics for conversation.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

This off-road vehicle track within the Big Red Mountain Botanical Area is creating major resource damage in an area known for its outstanding biological and botanical diversity.
  • Morning phone call with an environmental attorney regarding issues in the Applegate.
  • Midday meeting in Ashland with the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest and the Klamath National Forest regarding OHV issues and trail management on the Siskiyou Crest to address long-standing ecological damage. Many of the areas experiencing major OHV damage on the Siskiyou Crest are at the headwaters of the Applegate Valley, and within the Applegate River watershed.
  • Evening Applegate Trails Association board meeting. ATA is a member organization of ANN currently working on the Applegate Ridge Trail.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Public input during field trips into proposed logging units is a crucial way to engage in local land management issues in the Applegate.
  • Public field trip hosted by the Forest Service to look at proposed commercial logging units in the “Demo Projects” approved under the Upper Applegate Roads Project. From 9am-1pm the Forest Service and community members will walk the units and discuss the different “treatments” proposed for these demonstration logging units. The Forest Service is proposing four different “treatments” in order to demonstrate the pros and cons of different techniques, including a “no action” control unit. ANN will be there to push for more ecologically appropriate action.
  • 6 PM film showing presented by the Applegate Trails Association: Walking the Wild Applegate. This documentary film highlights the proposed Applegate Ridge Trail and Jack-Ash Trail connecting the towns of Ashland, Jacksonville and Grants Pass, Oregon. The film follows the first thru-hike of the trail corridor, beautifully depicting the diversity and scenery of the Applegate Valley and the vibrancy of our community. This casual event will be at the Ruch Fire Station Public Meeting Room.
Walking the Wild Applegate is a documentary film following the first thru-hike of the Jack-Ash and Applegate Ridge Trails, from Ashland to Grants Pass, OR

A Year in Review: 2016

Applegate Neighborhood Network: The Year in Review

Unit 28-22 of the Nedsbar Timber Sale was canceled due to the work of ANN and the SIskiyou Crest Blog. The unit is located near the confluence of Yale Creek and the Little Applegate River and is one of the Little Applegate area's most intact, fire adapted stands.
Unit 28-22 of the Nedsbar Timber Sale was canceled due to the work of ANN and the SIskiyou Crest Blog. The unit is located near the confluence of Yale Creek and the Little Applegate River and is one of the Little Applegate area’s most intact, fire adapted stands.

Applegate Neighborhood Network (ANN) is a conservation and community organization consisting of non-profit groups, local Applegate Valley residents and friends of the Applegate Valley. We believe that by joining together to achieve shared goals, we can amplify our voice and generate positive results for the Applegate Valley community and its environment. We work to advocate for community and conservation values in the Applegate Valley through collaboration, community activism, on-the-ground monitoring, education and advocacy. Whether you live, work or play in the Applegate Valley we encourage you to join us. We need your help to continue making a difference for this vibrant community and beautiful landscape. Please consider making a tax deductible donation to ANN. We can only continue this work with your generous support.

 2016 Achievements:

 Nedsbar Timber Sale:

Unit 33-20 was canceled from the Nedsbar Timber Sale following input from ANN and the the Siskiyou Crest Blog. The unit is located on the high divide between Yale Creek and the Little Applegate River.
Unit 33-20 was canceled from the Nedsbar Timber Sale following input from ANN and the the Siskiyou Crest Blog. The unit is located on the high divide between Yale Creek and the Little Applegate River.

 During 2016 ANN was instrumental in achieving withdrawal of numerous old-growth or roadless area units in the Nedsbar Timber Sale and one-mile of new road construction proposed in the Trillium Mountain Roadless Area. These are tangible victories and should be celebrated, but more work needs to be done in 2017.  

ANN has worked extensively on the Nedsbar Timber Sale taking the lead in opposing the BLM’s proposal. We have supported the Nedsbar Community Alternative, led public hikes, organized public protest, engaged collaboratively with the BLM and advocated for conservation. ANN also conducted extensive unit monitoring, publicizing our results on the Siskiyou Crest Blog. ANN also submitted a 100 page public comment and an administrative protest to the Decision Record.

Following citizen protests, administrative appeals and public outrage, the Nedsbar Timber Sale failed to sell at auction; receiving no bids from the timber industry. The BLM intends to “re-package” the Nedsbar Timber Sale to make the sale more financially attractive to potential buyers. We will continue to work on the Nedsbar Timber Sale in 2017 advocating for the Community Alternative and working to oppose the BLM’s Alternative 4.

 Applegate Adaptive Management Area:

ANN has worked through the Applegate Adaptive Management Area to support conservation and community values in the public land management planning process. The BLM and Forest Service have identified the Upper Applegate Valley as the Planning Area for a joint AMA project. The BLM’s Grants Pass Resource Area has also proposed the massive Pickett West Timber Sale with units in North Applegate, around Murphy, Oregon and Wilderville, Oregon.

We are advocating for the protection of roadless areas, wildlife, rare plants and pollinators. We support appropriate recreation and non-motorized trail development, judicious thinning, the use of prescribed fire and community collaboration. We are attending public meetings and monitoring the proposed AMA projects; identifying issues of concern, potential solutions and strategies that maximize environmental benefits.

 Timber Sale Monitoring:

ANN has been working to monitor BLM timber sales across the Applegate Valley. Documenting the impacts and actual results of commercial logging on BLM lands. We are conducting long-term monitoring projects to document the cumulative impact of timber harvest activity on fire risks, fuel hazards, forest health, northern spotted owl habitat and bark beetle mortality. We incorporate the results of our monitoring into our advocacy, public comments and the land management planning process. This is what true adaptive management looks like.

 OHV Monitoring:

ANN worked to successfully secure a motorized vehicle closure in these large meadows on China Gulch near Ruch, Oregon. The meadows was being badly damaged by uunauthorized OHV use.
ANN worked to successfully secure a motorized vehicle closure in these large meadows on China Gulch near Ruch, Oregon. The meadows was being badly damaged by uunauthorized OHV use.

ANN has helped to secure the closure of numerous environmentally damaging and unauthorized Off-Road Vehicle (OHV) trails near Ruch, on Anderson Butte and on the Siskiyou Crest near Big Red Mountain. ANN has been working to monitor OHV impacts across the Applegate Valley on both BLM and Forest Service land. We are documenting the impact of OHV use in the Applegate Valley and advocate for non-motorized trails, the closure of user-created OHV trails, and quiet recreational opportunities.

 Non-motorized Trail Advocacy:

The Jack-Ash Trail, proposed by ANN non-profit member, the Siskiyou Upland Trail Association, would extend from Jacksonville to Ashland, Oregon. Phase one of the long distance trail was recently approved by the BLM and trail construction has begun.

The Applegate Ridge Trail, proposed by ANN member, the Applegate Trails Association is currently undergoing Environmental Assessment for six miles of new trail near Ruch, Oregon. When completed the Applegate Ridge Trail will extend from Grants Pass to Jacksonville, Oregon. 

ANN has worked to support both the proposed Jack-Ash and Applegate Ridge Trail. We are also working to identify new non-motorized trail opportunities in the Upper Applegate Valley during the AMA planning process.

 Pollinator Conservation:

In 2016 ANN collaborated with the Forest Service to restore and protect important pollinator and monarch butterfly habitat on the Applegate River. The project was initiated through ANN advocacy, the first phase of the project consisted of closing a small riverside meadow to OHV use and was implement in 2016. The closure will protect the locally uncommon, heart-leaf milkweed, one of the monarch butterflies only native host plants.

ANN is working collaboratively with the Forest Service to design numerous pollinator/native plant restoration projects and interpretative trails in the Upper Applegate Valley.

Place-Based Environmental Education:

In 2016, ANN hosted numerous public hikes, field trips, public presentations and community events supporting environmental education, conservation and community involvement in the federal land management planning process.

A public hike in the Trillium Mountain Roadless area to view proposed units 26-20, 27-20 & over a mile of new road construction in the Nedsbar Timber Sale. Both units and the road proposed to access them were canceled due to ANN input and public organizing.
A public hike in the Trillium Mountain Roadless area to view proposed units 26-20, 27-20 & over a mile of new road construction in the Nedsbar Timber Sale. Both units and the road proposed to access them were canceled due to ANN input and public organizing.

Consider making a tax-deductible donation to ANN. Your funds will directly benefit the community and conservation values of the Applegate Valley. Please help us continue our work.

Thank you for your continued support. We are only as strong as the community that supports us.

ANN

East Applegate Ridge Trail EA Released! Please Comment In Support

A view from the East Applegate Ridge Trail into the town of Ruch and the beautiful Applegate Valley.
A view from the East Applegate Ridge Trail into the town of Ruch and the beautiful Applegate Valley.

The Applegate Trails Association (ATA) is a non-profit ANN member group advocating for non-motorized trails in the Applegate Valley. ATA has been promoting the Applegate Ridge Trail (ART) since 2011. The ART will extend from Jacksonville to Grants Pass and will tie into the Jack-Ash Trail, proposed to connect Jacksonville to Ashland. In total the two trails will cover over 80 miles and will provide appropriate, non-motorized trail access to the beautiful foothills of the Applegate Valley.

The BLM just released the Environmental Assessment (EA) for the East Applegate Ridge Trail, a 5.6-mile portion of trail connecting Sterling Creek Road to Highway 238 near Forest Creek and the town of Ruch. It will be one of the most beautiful non-motorized trails in the Applegate Valley, with its spectacular views, picturesque oak woodland and grassy prairie slopes.

The EA also proposes to obliterate an unauthorized, user-created OHV trail impacting soil resources, botanical resources, wildlife and facilitating private land trespass.

Please support the East Applegate Ridge Trail and ATA. Send a public comment on the East ART EA and support non-motorized recreation in the Applegate Valley. 

Talking Points:

  • Show support for the Applegate Ridge Trail and non-motorized recreation in the Applegate Valley.
  • Ask the BLM to approve the East Applegate Ridge Trail and obliterate the existing unauthorized OHV trail as proposed in the EA.
  • Ask the BLM to expedite the process to analyze and approve the remaining portions of the Applegate Ridge Trail from Highway 238 to Board Shanty Road. Recommend that subsequent EAs be prepared promptly to facilitate speedy development of this important non-motorized trail. This would include the Center ART from Highway 238 to Humbug Creek, the Flank of Old Blue from Humbug Creek to the Enchanted Forest Trail on Slagle Creek, and the West ART from Slagle Creek to Board Shanty Road.
  • Reconsider the RMP designation to remove Lands with Wilderness Characteristics (LWC) in the Wellington Butte Area. Please protect the Wellington Butte LWC.
  • Recommend that the BLM add the eastern China Gulch additions to the Wellington LWC as proposed by ATA and ANN.

Send Written Comments To:

BLM (Attention: Shana MCCarty)

3025 Biddle Road

Medford, Oregon 97504

Send Email Comments To:

blm_or_md_mail@blm.gov

(be sure to include Shana McCarty in the subject line)

 

Bishop Ridge on the East Applegate Ridge Trail.
Bishop Ridge on the East Applegate Ridge Trail.

Massive Pickett West Timber Sale Proposed by Grants Pass BLM

A view down Miners Creek from the proposed West Applegate Ridge Trail. Miners Creek is on the eastern end of the massive Pickett West Planning Area.
A view down Miners Creek from the proposed West Applegate Ridge Trail. Miners Creek is on the eastern end of the massive Pickett West Planning Area.

Massive Pickett West Timber Sale Proposed By Grants Pass BLM

The Pickett West Forest Management Project is a massive timber sale and fuel reduction project planned by the Grants Pass BLM. The planning area stretches across 200,000 acres from North Applegate and Murphy, to Wilderville, Selma and north through the Hellgate Canyon Recreation Area, to Galice and Graves Creek on the Rogue River. Numerous important wildlands are found within the planning area, including Kerby Peak, Round Top Mountain and wild tributaries of the Wild and Scenic Rogue River. A portion of the proposed Applegate Ridge Trail near Murphy and North Applegate could be commercially logged in this proposal. 

Currently, the agency has identified 12,773 acres for treatment, including 5,980 acres of commercial logging, 2,525 acres of which are located within a Late Successional Reserve, designated to support old growth forest characteristics and northern spotted owl habitat.

The BLM is proposing regeneration logging in some areas. Similar to clearcut logging, the purpose of regeneration logging is to remove the current overstory canopy in stands over 150 years old and regenerate a young plantation-like stand. The practice badly damages habitat values while drastically increasing fuel hazards.

The project includes sustained yield timber production on O&C lands, forest health and fuel reduction related objectives. At this time, the project has no diameter limit and is proposing to log in sensitive areas heavily used for recreation, such as Hellgate Canyon, the Rogue River downstream of Galice, and the slopes adjacent to the proposed Applegate Ridge Trail.

A view into the town of Murphy from “Snail Butte” on the proposed West Applegate Ridge Trail. The mountains in this photo include the North Applegate and Murphy-Wilderville portions of the Pickett West Planning Area.

The project is being implemented partially in the Applegate Adaptive Management Area (AMA), mandating community collaboration and innovation. Please get involved and help steer this project towards a more socially and ecologically responsible outcome.

The BLM is accepting public scoping comments until November 30, 2016. Scoping comments are intended to inform the agency and identify issues of concern to be analyzed in the upcoming Environmental Assessment. Basic talking points are listed below. Please advocate for conservation, non-motorized recreation and community-based collaboration.

The BLM is also holding an open house on November 19, 2016 in Grants Pass to discuss the project with interested public members.

Please support ANN as we work to address this project. Join us as we advocate for conservation and community in the Applegate Valley. Consider making an end-of-the-year donation to support our work.

The Wild and Scenic Rogue River near Galice, Oregon at the northwestern portion of the planning area.
The Wild and Scenic Rogue River near Galice, Oregon at the northwestern portion of the planning area.

Issues to address in scoping comments:

1) Reduce the size of the planning area to allow meaningful public involvement and site specific environmental analysis. The current scale of the planning effort will preclude site specific analysis and planning, it will also reduce public involvement and collaboration due to the geographically isolated communities involved. The project should be broken up into at least four planning areas: North Applegate, Murphy-Wilderville, Selma and Galice-Hellgate. Each of these four planning areas should undergo their own Environmental Assessments.

2) No Regeneration Logging! Regeneration logging is implemented only in stands over 150 years old and is damaging to late-seral forest habitat. It also dramatically increases fuels hazards by removing large, fire resistant trees and regenerating a new “cohort” of dense young trees.

3) Institute a 21″ diameter limit and maintain all northern spotted owl habitat.

4) Defer commercial treatment in the North Applegate area and focus on recreation. Approve and build the West Applegate Ridge Trail from Board Shanty Creek to the Enchanted Forest Trail. Manage the North Applegate area for recreation, wildlife habitat and ecological values.

5) Defer commercial treatment in the Hellgate Recreation Area and the river corridor downstream of Hellgate Canyon to Graves Creek. Manage this important area for recreation and ecological values.

6) No new road construction.

7) Focus thinning operations on plantation stands and over-logged areas in need of restoration and fuel reduction, not natural stands.

8) Develop collaborative, innovative and ecologically responsible alternatives and planning processes for all portions of the project in the Applegate AMA. Work with the Applegate Neighborhood Network to identify community concerns, environmental issues and effective solutions.

Send scoping comments to:

Grants Pass Interagency Office Attn: Don Ferguson

2164 Spalding Avenue, Grants Pass, Oregon 97526

Attend the open house:

When: November 19, 2016 3:00-7:00 PM

Where: Grants Pass Interagency Office, 2164 Spalding Avenue, Grants Pass, Oregon.

Looking north into the planning area from Kerby Peak, a favorite hiking area for residents of Williams, Grants Pass and the Illinois Valley.
Looking north into the planning area from Kerby Peak, a favorite hiking area for residents of Williams, Grants Pass and the Illinois Valley.

BLM Shelves the Nedsbar Timber Sale — For Now!

Local residents protest the Nedsbar Timber Sale auction on September 22, 2016. Photo credit: www.timdawphotography.com
Local residents protest the Nedsbar Timber Sale auction on September 22, 2016. Photo credit: www.timdawphotography.com

Last week the Medford District BLM proposed to sell the Nedsbar Timber Sale to the highest bidder, offering some of the last roadless forests in the Applegate Valley to private timber interests for $68 per thousand board feet. The agency was offering 3.4 million board feet of public forest for a minimum bid of $231,014.60.

The community of the Applegate Valley believes these intact forests are priceless, and in response organized a large protest at the timber sale auction on Thursday, September 22, 2016. 

With resistance to the sale growing, 75 residents of the Rogue and Applegate Valleys attended the rally, advocating that the BLM withdraw the sale and protect the area’s important biological and recreational values.

www.timdawphotography.com
www.timdawphotography.com

Protestors held signs, sang songs, held mock timber auctions, shared information about the timber sale, spoke with media and advocated for protection of the area’s ecology and recreation-based economy. Some in attendance wanted to witness the process of the auction and tried to enter the auction. These residents were denied access and public timber was auctioned to private interests behind closed doors. 

Residents expressed their concerns about the timber sale and the lack of meaningful collaboration that led to its approval, airing their concerns with BLM officials and filling the lobby of the Medford District BLM Office. Protestors also spread out across the parking lot and along the main street bordering the BLM office, receiving many honks and cheers of approval from passing motorists.  

www.timdawphotography.com
www.timdawphotography.com

Following the protest and timber auction, BLM announced that the Nedsbar Timber Sale received no bidders. Having failed to sell, the BLM announced it would re-offer the Nedsbar Timber Sale under a 30-day sealed bidding process, allowing the industry yet another chance to purchase our public forests for private gain.

Within days of this announcement the BLM reevaluated the situation and has now removed the sale from the sealed bidding process. “We’re going to pull it back and see if we can work on the economics of it. We’ll look at everything to see if there’s some tweeks or changes to improve this sale,” said BLM spokesperson, Jim Whittington, to the Medford Mail Tribune. 

The timber industry wants a more economical sale and is pressing the agency to repackage Nedsbar into a sale that includes only the most economical units. 

“I don’t see anyone coming up and grabbing it the way it is,” said Andy Geissler to the Medford Mail Tribune. Andy Geissler is a timber industry lobbyist from the American Forest Resource Council. “Its good to hear it’s getting a makeover,” he said.

The “makeover” the timber industry is hoping for will likely include either lowering the minimum bid price or reducing the cost of logging by dropping units with low volume per acre. This would leave only the units with the highest timber volumes and largest trees included in the sale. 

The industry would also like to see prescriptions rely less on helicopter logging which is expensive to implement, Geissler said.  

Local residents are also hoping many of the helicopter logging units will be dropped, especially those in roadless areas or fire resilient, late seral stands. Numerous units on Bald Mountain, in the Little Appleagate River canyon, at the head of Grouse Creek and on Boaz Mountain should be removed from the timber sale.

The BLM is analyzing the administrative “protest letters” they received from the Applegate Neighborhood Network (ANN) and others. We hope this analysis will allow the BLM to amend the Decision Record, withdraw the currently approved Nedsbar Timber Sale and implement the Community Alternative, Alternative 5 through a series of stewardship contracts. The Community Alternative will protect the area’s important natural values while reducing fuels, increasing forest health, enhancing our local economy and producing a sustainable supply of timber. 

The BLM has indicated that if the sale undergoes substantial changes during this reevalutation process a new public comment period would be necessary. They have indicated that no work will proceed until next spring or summer.

This is a victory for now, but it is clear that much more work is ahead of us as we urge the BLM to do the right thing and truly listen to and collaborate with local residents opposed to the Nedsbar Timber Sale. 

A community in action: Stop Nedsbar Rally Slideshow!

All photos courtesy: www.timdawphotography.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walking the Wild Applegate Film Premiere — October 9, 2016

Where: 14615 Water Gap Road at Pacifica in Williams, Oregon

When: October 9, 2016. 6:00-9:00 PM                                                               

Join the Applegate Trails Association (ATA) for the exciting film premiere of Walking the Wild Applegate, a short documentary film about the first thru-hike of the Jack-Ash and Applegate Ridge Trails. This past May two board members from ATA, Josh Weber and Luke Ruediger, hiked from downtown Ashland, Oregon to the Catherdral Hills Park, on the outskirts of Grants Pass, Oregon. The 80-mile, mostly trailless journey follows the route of the Jack-Ash and Applegate Ridge Trails proposed by Applegate-based trail groups and ANN members, the Applegate Trails Association and the Siskiyou Uplands Trail Association. Filmmaker Tim Lewis followed the hikers on their journey and spent all summer creating a beautiful film about the Applegate Valley and the proposed trails. Come be the first to see this wonderful Applegate-based film and support your local non-motorized trail groups.

Music will follow the film premiere by the Applegate Ramblers!: Alice DeMicele, Emily Turner, Mikey Stevens and Vince Herman.

Tickets are $10 at the door or at the Ruch Country Store. Children under 12 will be free. Food, beverages, deserts and beer will be available for purchase. Come join ATA and celebrate the beauty of the Applegate Valley!

ANN strongly supports both non-motorized trails. We appreciate the sense of place the trails will help build in the Applegate Valley. They would be good for our economy, good for our quality of life, and would serve to bring people closer to the beautiful environment in which we live.

We hope to see you at this exciting event. Join us and support the wild in the Applegate Valley.

 

The BLMs new Resource Management Plan and its impact on the Applegate Valley.

The New BLM Resource Management Plan and its Impact on the Applegate Valley.

The Wellington Butte Roadless Area and LWC along many other special places in the Applegate Valley will be open to logging, road building and motorized recreation in the new RMP.
The Wellington Butte Roadless Area and LWC along many other special places in the Applegate Valley will be open to logging, road building and motorized recreation in the new RMP.

The BLM has released a new Resource Management Plan (RMP), intended to direct management activities throughout western Oregon, including the Applegate Valley. The implications of this new plan for our forests, rivers, wildlife, wildands and communities are concerning to say the least. The plan will turn back many important environmental protections and eliminate land management designations that promote community-based collaboration in the Applegate Valley.

The new RMP would eliminate or reduce many of the environmental protections of the Northwest Forest Plan. The plan would reduce streamside logging buffers by half, impacting 300,000 acres currently protected as Riparian Reserves. Commercial logging in Riparian Reserves will not only harm water quality and our endangered fisheries, but also it will harm rare and/or endangered species such as the Pacific fisher and northern spotted owl. Riparian Reserves were meant to preserve connectivity on the landscape scale and improve or protect riparian habitat from logging disturbances. In dry regions like the Applegate Valley our streams must be protected, our communities rely on them for fisheries, wildlife habitat, sustenance and recreation. They flow through our valley and past our homes.

The plan would also allow logging 278 million board feet of timber annually, an increase of 37% since the last plan was approved in 1995. The new RMP emphasizes clear-cut logging techniques on nearly 500,000 acres of land in Oregon’s moist forests and proposes a large increase in logging in the dry forests of southwestern Oregon. The increased logging will increase fuel and fire hazards adjacent to our communities and in important forest habitats. It will also degrade important wildlife habitats, impact water quality, log off some of our last intact forests and destroy the viewshed from our communities and homes.

For example, the new RMP will eliminate the proposed designation and protection of two “Lands with Wilderness Characteristics” in the Applegate Valley. Both areas were inventoried and found worthy of LWC protection. Unfortunately, the BLM is removing these areas LWC status and protections, leaving the Dakubetede and Wellington Butte LWC open to logging, road building and motorized recreation.

The Dakubetede Roadless Area and LWC will be stripped of LWC protections and opened to logging, road building and motorized recreation in the new RMP.
The Dakubetede Roadless Area and LWC will be stripped of LWC protections and opened to logging, road building and motorized recreation in the new RMP.

The Dakubetede LWC is centered around Anderson Butte and the arid slopes of the Little Applegate Valley. The LWC is traversed by the Sterling Mine Ditch Trail and portions of the proposed Jack-Ash Trail. The Wellington Butte LWC, is located near Ruch, Oregon and is the wild core of the proposed Applegate Ridge Trail (ART).  Having become hotspots for non-motorized recreation, both LWCs are well loved by residents of the Applegate Valley and southwestern Oregon. Together the land management practices proposed in the RMP will forever degrade these wildlands and the pristine nature of the proposed ART and Jack-Ash Trails, impacting the quality of life, habitat and the recreation based economy of the Applegate Valley.

Perhaps most important to local Applegate Valley residents is the elimination of the Applegate Adaptive Management Area (AMA). The AMA was designated in 1994 to encourage innovative, ecologically responsible and collaborative land management planning in the Applegate watershed. The AMA was designed to provide the community with opportunities to collaborate and develop “idiosyncratic” methods of land management based on community values and ecological needs.

The Applegate Valley has been a model of community engagement with local land managers. We have worked to create collaborative and socially acceptable land management projects in the AMA. As a community we have worked for 22 years towards consensus, building collaborative capacity and supporting the AMA. Many in the Applegate Valley have invested heavily in the AMA process, working to create a voice for our community and build trust between the BLM and local residents. Removing the AMA designation betrays that trust and will eliminate the BLM’s mandate to work collaboratively with our community and practice innovative forestry practices.

The majority of BLM land in the Applegate Valley would be located within the “Harvest Land Base,” meaning that logging would be the primary form of land management. Timber production would be prioritized over ecological, social or community values within the Harvest Land Base, including within the Dakubetede and Wellington LWCs, numerous Recreational Management Areas, and the corridors proposed for the Jack-Ash and Applegate Ridge Trails.

The majority of the BLM forests in the Applegate Valley will be located within the “harvest land base.” These lands will be subjected to a 37% increase in timber production.

Some BLM lands in the Applegate watershed will be managed as Late Successional Reserves (LSR). A large block of LSR has been designated in the Williams watershed, Thompson Creek watershed and the western half of the Upper Applegate River watershed. Despite the stated goal of providing large blocks of late successional habitat for the recovery of the northern Spotted Owl, the BLM would mandate the logging of 17,000 acres per decade on the Medford District within these important LSRs.

Although the BLM claims to be emphasizing recreation and conservation in the RMP, nearly all designated conservation and recreation areas would prioritize timber production and motorized recreation. Our two most loved wild areas, the Dakubetede and Wellington Butte LWC will be open to logging, road building and motorized recreation. The corridors of the Jack-Ash and Applegate Ridge Trail will be proposed for timber management and open to motorized use.   Likewise, our beloved AMA has been axed, along with more than two decades of effort from our community. The new RMP represents old, outdated thinking and a bias towards industrial land management. The residents of the Applegate Valley are looking forward to a more sustainable future. Will the BLM join us?

Please contact your elected officials and tell them that we want our wild places, old forests, clear flowing streams and non-motorized recreation areas protected from logging, road building and OHV use. Ask them to:

  • Revoke the Record of Decision for the new RMP and create a new plan that balances ecological, social and economic values.
  • Maintain stream side logging buffers as proposed in the Northwest Forest Plan
  • Reduce the annual allowable cut by maintaining stream buffers, old forests, LSR habitat, roadless areas and northern spotted owl habitat.
  • Maintain LWC status and protection for the Wellington Butte and Dakubetede Roadless Areas.
  • Reinstate and reinvigorate the Applegate Adaptive Management Area designation. Use this designation to facilitate community collaboration and innovative land management.
  • Reinstate survey requirements for rare wildlife species, plants, lichen and fungus.

Contacts:

Ron Dutton, State BLM Director

BLM_OR_SO_Land_Office_Mail@blm.gov

Representative Peter Buckley:

Rep.PeterBuckley@state.or.us

Sally Jewell, Secretary of the Interior:

exsec_exsec@ios.doi.gov

Senator Ron Wyden:

https://www.wyden.senate.gov/contact/

Representative Greg Walden

https://walden.house.gov/contact-greg/email-me

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nedsbar Environmental Assessment Released! Public Comments Needed.

Nedsbar Timber Sale

Public Comment Guide

Unit 28-10B in the Bald Mountain Roadless Area. Trees up to 42
Unit 28-10B in the Bald Mountain Roadless Area. Trees up to 42″ diameter are marked for removal. The stand is naturally fire resistant with large, well spaced trees, minimal understory fuels and high canopies. Logging will remove late-seral characteristics while increasing understory fuel and fire hazards.

 

On July 2, 2016, the Medford District BLM released the Nedsbar Forest Management Environmental Assessment (EA). The EA analyzes the predicted environmental impacts of various action alternatives. The primary alternative proposed by the BLM is Alternative 4, which would target some of the most intact, fire resistant forests in our region. The alternative would include 1,500 acres of commercial logging in the Little Applegate and Upper Applegate Valleys.  If implemented, Alternative 4 will increase fire hazards by removing excessive levels of forest canopy and large, fire resistant trees.

The proposal would log some of the most scenic backcountry in the Applegate Valley along the proposed Jack-Ash Trail and within the viewshed of the popular Sterling Mine Ditch Trail. It would also log forests directly adjacent to our communities in the Little Applegate and Upper Applegate Valleys, impacting the scenic quality of our properties and the view from many of our homes. The timber sale would affect our neighborhoods and homes, as well as the region’s bourgeoning recreation-based economy, wildlife habitat, wildlands, and the beauty of the valley we love.

Fortunately, local residents, the Applegate Neighborhood Network (ANN) and Community Alternative Working Group joined forces to create a more responsible, sustainable, and fire-wise alternative. Known as Alternative 5 in the Environmental Assessment, the Community Alternative would retain higher levels of canopy cover and large, fire resistant trees, while reducing fuels, promoting forest health, and producing a sustainable amount of timber.

The BLM has fully analyzed our community-based alternative and acknowledged that it meets the “purpose and need” of this forest management project. Alternative 5 is also consistent with the mandates of the Applegate Adaptive Management Area that was designated to encourage collaboration, innovation and community involvement in public land management planning and implementation. Please consider writing a public comment to the BLM. Comments will be accepted until August 1, 2016. Comments can be sent to: blm_or_md_mail@blm.gov

Below is an analysis of impacts associated with the BLM’s Alternative 4, in comparison to the Community Alternative, Alternative 5.

Fire/Fuels

An example of dense understory fuel increase following commercial logging treatments on BLM lands in the Applegate Valley. As these understory fuel loads grow they create extreme fuel loads and fuel laddering, drastically increasing fire hazards.
An example of dense understory fuel increase following commercial logging treatments on BLM lands in the Applegate Valley. As these understory fuel loads grow they create extreme fuel loads and fuel laddering, drastically increasing fire hazards.

BLM’s Alternative 4

Alternative 4 would increase fire hazards adjacent to our communities by removing excessive levels of canopy cover, removing large fire resistant trees and targeting intact, naturally fire resilient forests. The heavy canopy cover reductions proposed in Alternative 4 will drastically increase fuel loads and fuel laddering by encouraging a dense shrubby understory beneath the remaining “leave” trees. The reduction of canopy will also extend fire season by allowing stands to dry out much earlier in the fire season. This pattern can be seen across the Applegate Valley in stands that were logged in the last 10-20 years.

The BLM will also be removing many large, fire resistant trees that are the cornerstone of fire resilience and are most likely to survive the effects of a summer wildfire. These large trees are also particularly important for wildlife and contribute to the scenic qualities of the Applegate Valley.

Finally, Alternative 4 proposes to significantly reduce canopy cover levels and remove large, old fire resistant trees in many of our most intact, fire resilient forests. Many of these stands consist of large, old trees with fire resistant characteristics such as closed canopy conditions that suppress shrubby understory fuels, thick insulating bark, high canopies and sufficient spacing between live trees. These stands are naturally fire resistant and are the most likely locations on the landscape to sustain low to moderate severity fire effects in a summer wildfire scenario. The relative abundance of intact fire resistant forest contributes directly to our area’s fire resilience. Logging these stands will increase fuels and fire risks, potentially encouraging high severity fire effects.

Nedsbar Community Alternative, Alternative 5

In treated stands, the Community Alternative, Alternative 5, will retain adequate levels of canopy cover to address forest health concerns, suppress shrubby understory fuels and reduce the likelihood of extending fire season by drying treated stands. Alternative 5 will also retain all large, fire resistant trees over 20” in diameter and retain the currently intact, fire resistant stands in our more remote and unroaded wildlands. Alternative 5 is also the only alternative to propose the use of prescribed fire to more effectively reduce understory fuels and restore low intensity fire to long unburned areas. The Community Alternative will reduce fuels, maintain fire resistant stands, protect large fire resilient trees, and begin to restore fire to ecosystems in need.

Unroaded Areas

Alternative 4 proposes new road construction through these beautiful oak woodlands in the Trillium Mountain Roadless Area. The road would be built to access the uncut forest on the north facing slopes. The road would be built on the ridgeline at the center of the photo.
Alternative 4 proposes new road construction through these beautiful oak woodlands in the Trillium Mountain Roadless Area. The road would be built to access the uncut forest on the north facing slopes. The road would be built on the ridgeline at the center of the photo.

 BLM’s Alternative 4

 The BLM is proposing to commercially log nearly 1,500 acres in the Nedsbar Forest Management Project. Of this total, 72%, or 1,086 acres are proposed in citizen identified roadless areas, including the Buncom, Bald Mountain, Boaz Mountain, and Trillium Mountain Roadless Areas. These are the last intact ecosystems in the foothills of the Applegate Valley and were recently proposed by Senator Wyden as a large Back-Country Primitive Area. In response to the proposed protection of these areas, the BLM proceeded to target them for logging before they could be protected. Many of the stands proposed for logging are late-seral or old-growth stands that provide exceptional wildlife habitat.

The BLM is also proposing to build 3.2 miles of new road to access commercial logging units. BLM’s Alternative 4 will build over 2 miles of new road across the roadless western face of Trillium Mountain and in the riparian reserve of Lick Gulch in the Trillium Mountain Roadless Area. This new road would sever the roadless area and badly damage the area’s habitat connectivity, scenic qualities, hydrology, wildlife habitat, riparian habitat, and native plant communities, while increasing OHV use.

Currently, these unroaded areas provide important wildlife habitat, harbor intact native plant communities, sustain old-growth forest habitats, and offer solitude and non-motorized recreational opportunities to local residents and visitors. These important values will be degraded by the proposed logging prescriptions in Alternative 4.

Nedsbar Community Alternative, Alternative 5

No new roads will be constructed under Alternative 5. The Community Alternative will protect unroaded habitats and the important values they provide. Proposed logging treatments will include roughly 200 acres within unroaded areas without the use of new road building, but these treatments will retain all large trees and adequate canopy cover. These units will be located in mid-seral stands at the edge of unroaded areas within a few hundred feet of existing BLM roads. Their primary purpose is the creation of roadside fuel brakes intended to aid in the containment of wildfire or future prescribed fires. The effect will be an increase in forest health and fire resilience, yet the intact nature of these stands will not be compromised.

The Community Alternative proposes to eliminate 19 units on over 800 acres in unroaded areas that are proposed for logging in BLM’s Alternative 4.  

Recreation

The view from the Sterling Mine Ditch Trail across the Little Applegate River Canyon to units 27-20 and 26-20, proposed for logging in Alternative 4. One mile of new road construction would be built in the Trillium Mountain Roadless Area to facilitate logging these uncut forests.
The view from the Sterling Mine Ditch Trail across the Little Applegate River Canyon to units 27-20 and 26-20, proposed for logging in Alternative 4. One mile of new road construction would be built in the Trillium Mountain Roadless Area to facilitate logging these uncut forests.

 BLM’s Alternative 4

The BLM has proposed logging 57 acres of intact old-growth forest on the proposed route of the Jack-Ash Trail. The Jack-Ash Trail is proposed to extend from Jacksonville to Ashland, Oregon and is poised to become a recreational hotspot for residents of southwestern Oregon and visitors to the area. The proposed logging units are located within one of the trail’s wildest sections in the Bald Mountain Roadless Area. Trees up to 42” in diameter have been marked for logging.

BLM’s Alternative 4 proposes to log numerous units directly across from the Sterling Mine Ditch Trail. These units are predominantly located in the Trillium Mountain Roadless Area, an area that currently appears completely undisturbed. The majority of these units would be logged to 40% canopy cover, which would make the logging units very prominent and disruptive to the trail’s viewshed. At least 25 units would be highly visible from the Sterling Mine Ditch Trail.

Nedsbar Community Alternative, Alternative 5

The Community Alternative, Alternative 5, would protect the viewshed of the Sterling Ditch Trail. Only 4 units would be visible from the Sterling Mine Ditch Trail, but these units would reduce canopy cover far less drastically than proposed the BLM treatments, making the units less visible and more naturally appearing.

The Community Alternative proposes no logging in the Bald Mountain Roadless Area, eliminating the impact of old-growth logging on the Jack-Ash Trail.

In an era of diminishing opportunities to hike in areas unmarred by logging, road building or other industrial impacts, it is vital to retain the natural characteristics of the Applegate landscape for the economical importance of our growing recreational economy.

Northern Spotted Owl Habitat

 BLM’s Alternative 4

Alternative 4 would impact Northern Spotted Owl (NSO) habitat and complex, late-seral forest habitat by “removing” or “downgrading” NSO habitat. Removing habitat means that habitat conditions following logging operations have been degraded to the extent that NSO will no longer use the area for nesting, roosting, foraging (NRF) or dispersal. Downgrading habitat means that the quality of habitat following logging operations will be less useful to the owl than it was prior to logging treatments.

For example, habitat currently identified as suitable for nesting, roosting and foraging would be “downgraded” to dispersal, meaning that the habitat conditions would no longer support nesting, roosting or foraging habitat and will only function for NSO that are “dispersing” or migrating through the area. Dispersal habitat can be downgraded to “capable” habitat, meaning it is currently not useful to the NSO, but the soils and climactic conditions could support the complex forest that in turn supports the NSO.

BLM’s Alternative 4 proposes to remove 109 acres of NRF habitat and 217 acres of dispersal habitat. The proposal also includes 269 acres of NRF downgrades to dispersal habitat. In total, 595 acres, or 40% of the commercial logging acres are proposed to have negative impacts on the Northern Spotted Owl.

Nedsbar Community Alternative, Alternative 5

Alternative 5 would protect and promote high quality NSO habitat by deferring many of the most complex, old forest habitats from treatment. Habitat conditions would be maintained in harvested units by retaining canopy cover levels to between 50% and 60%, for the majority of units, as well as retaining all large, old trees. This is an important component of the Community Alternative because it is important that NSO is protected within treated areas.

Although the Community Alternative Working Group developed an alternative with guidelines to protect NSO habitat, the BLM analysis of the Community Alternative, Alternative 5, has shown a supposed downgrade of 26 acres of NRF habitat. We have requested information regarding where these supposed downgrades will occur in the Community Alternative, but we have not yet received a response from the BLM. 

BLM’s Environmental Analysis shows that NRF downgrades and removals are nearly 15 times more prevalent in BLM’s Alternative 4 than in the Community Alternative, Alternative 5.

New Road Construction

 BLM’s Alternative 4

Alternative 4 proposes 3.24 miles of new permanent road construction and 1.28 miles of temporary road construction. According to BLM nearly ¼ mile of new road would be built in the bottom of Lick Gulch, potentially creating significant levels of sedimentation. Road reconstruction would take place on 4.45 miles of road. Alternative 4 would also build 12 new helicopter landing sites.

 Nedsbar Community Alternative, Alternative 5

The Community Alternative proposes no new road construction, temporary or permanent. Road reconstruction would take place on 0.31 miles of existing road and no new helicopter landings would be built.

The BLM already has an enormous backlog of deferred road maintenance because of budget constraints. It is fiscally irresponsible to build new roads with public money when there will not be funding for long-term maintenance. Roads are a major source of sediments in our streams that have long-lasting and detrimental impacts to anadramous fish populations. The financial and ecological impacts of continued road building are just too high.

Large Tree Retention

A large, old tree marked for removal in unit 35-32 at the headwaters of Grouse Creek. This lush old forest would be logged to 40% canopy cover in Alternative 4. 
A large, old tree marked for removal in unit 35-32 at the headwaters of Grouse Creek. This lush old forest would be logged to 40% canopy cover in Alternative 4. 

 BLM’s Alternative 4

The BLM has refused to impose a diameter limit on Alternative 4. Community monitoring has documented trees up to 42” in diameter marked for removal. According to the BLM timber tally, 501 trees over 20” in diameter are proposed for removal. This number excludes 24 units that were “leave” tree marked, making quantifiable numbers more difficult to produce. This is extremely significant because numerous units with large, old trees marked for removal are currently not included in this estimate. In many units basal area targets necessitate the removal of large trees over 20” in diameter.

Nedsbar Community Alternative, Alternative 5

The community alternative identifies a 20” diameter limit across the entire project area. No trees over 20” in diameter would be removed under the prescriptions outlined in Alternative 5.

Public comments can be sent to: blm_or_md_mail@blm.gov

Subject: (Attention: Kathy Minor-Ashland Resource Area-Nedsbar)

 

 

 

Jack-Ash Trail Environmental Assesment Released by BLM

The view from the Jack-Ash Trail near Anderson Butte
The view from the Jack-Ash Trail near Anderson Butte

One of our member organizations, the Siskiyou Upland Trails Association, has been working to maintain and create new non-motorized trails in the Anderson Butte area. The BLM has released an Environmental Assessment for phase one of the Jack-Ash Trail. The following blog post was written by SUTA board member, Hope Robertson:

We are extremely excited to report that the BLM issued the  Environmental Assessment (EA) for the first phase of the Siskiyou Upland Trails Association’s (SUTA) Jack-Ash Trail project on June 17th. This trail will ultimately run between the Jacksonville and Ashland trail systems and connect to the Applegate Ridge Trail system proposed by Applegate Trails Association (ATA). The first phase of the Jack-Ash, covered in the EA, will connect to both ends of the Sterling Mine Ditch trail system, creating a giant loop around Anderson Butte. This non-motorized trail system will expand opportunities for all non-motorized recreational users – hikers, equestrians, bicyclists and runners.  With great vistas of the Applegate Valley and the Rogue Valley, users will be able to easily  access this future trail from towns in the Rogue Valley and from the Applegate side.  

The Medford BLM has posted the EA and is receiving public comment on the proposal through July 18th. SUTA would greatly appreciate letters of support from future users of our trail.  You can see the EA at: https://eplanning.blm.gov/epl-front-office/eplanning/planAndProjectSite.do?methodName=renderDefaultPlanOrProjectSite&projectId=57315&dctmId=0b0003e880aa19b5.

All comments should be made in writing and mailed or delivered to Shanna McCarty, Planning & Environmental Specialist, Ashland Resource Area, 3040 Biddle Road, Medford, OR97504 or emailed to BLM_OR_MD_mail@blm.gov, Attention: Shanna McCarty. 

We are delighted to see this community trail project moving forward.  If all goes well we hope to begin construction this fall.  Thank you to everyone in the community who helped make this possible!

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact SUTA at sutaoregoncontact@gmail.com

The grasslands of the Dakubetede Roadless Area from the Jack-Ash Trail.
The grasslands of the Dakubetede Roadless Area from the Jack-Ash Trail.