At the Applegate Neighborhood Network, we are working hard to develop a more profound sense of place. and a deeper appreciation for the ecology, beauty and diversity of the Applegate River Watershed. We are working to promote the the protection of wild places and the responsible stewardship of the more altered environments in the area. To achieve these goals we are working to connect people to this beautiful landscape.
Our member organization, Applegate Trails Association is designing, building and promoting the Applegate Ridge Trail (ART), an over 40 mile trail proposed to connect Jacksonville, Oregon and Grants Pass, Oregon through the hills of the Applegate Valley. The trail will cross the Wellington Butte Roadless Area and the wild country in upper Humbug and Slagle Creek. After years of organizing ATA has gained approval from the BLM to begin building the East ART, a 5.6 mile route connecting Sterling Creek Road to Highway 238.
ATA has wasted no time, building trail in a frenzy of excitement and enthusiasm. ATA crews and Northwest Youth Corp made tremendous progress this week building roughly one mile of trail in a few short days. ATA hopes to have the trail completed by fall.
The Siskiyou Upland Trails Association (SUTA) has also begun building phase one of the Jack-Ash Trail that will ultimately extend from Jacksonville, Oregon to Ashland, Oregon. The Jack-Ash Trail will traverse the McDonald Peak Roadless Area, the Bald Mountain Roadless Area and the Dakubetede Roadless Area. SUTA has approval on the first phase of the trail near Anderson Butte and began building trail this past November. They have about 2.5 miles remaining to build.
The trails will allow local residents to develop more intimate relationships with the mountains of home. They will also provide additional incentives to protect the wild landscapes through which they traverse. We are working to promote conservation and responsible recreation on public lands in the Applegate Watershed and see these trails as an essential step towards a more sustainable future.
Join SUTA and ATA for upcoming volunteer trail building days.
Now is your chance to have your opinion regarding public lands grazing in the Applegate and on the Siskiyou Crest heard! The Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, Siskiyou Mountains Ranger District is beginning an Environmental Analysis (EA) process to update four local grazing allotments.
Applegate Grazing Complex
The proposed plan is to update four Allotment Management Plans (AMPs), collectively referred to as the Applegate Grazing Complex, including: Beaver-Silver, Carberry Creek, Elliott Creek, and Upper Big Applegate. The four allotments span across the vast majority of the Upper Applegate and Little Applegate watersheds, affecting hydrology, water quality, wildlife habitat, botanical values, roadless areas and pollinator habitat.
The Forest Service issued the Scoping Notice for the EA on February 16, 2017 and they are currently accepting public comments during the 30-day public comment period. The Scoping Notice states: “The purpose of updating the AMPs is to consider the reauthorization of livestock grazing on the four allotments. The intent of the reauthorization is to provide the Forest Service and permittees with an updated legal document that defines how livestock grazing will be managed. Grazing on the allotments have generally been permitted since the early 1900s. This effort would ensure updated information is provided for the sustained health of rangeland and forest ecosystems.
The AMPs for these allotments have not been updated since the 1960s; an evaluation of the condition and trends of vegetation and soils within the allotments needs to be conducted. Based on the results of the evaluation, the Forest Service wold either allow for continued permitted grazing for the established numbers and seasons, adjust the permitted numbers and seasons allowable for grazing, or discontinue the permitted grazing. The analysis would provide updated information that reflects current management direction and resource objectives. Updated AMPs would provide direction that maintain or improve vegetation and riparian conditions through effective livestock management while providing for other uses.”
Impacts of Public Lands Grazing in the Applegate and on the Siskiyou Crest
The Applegate Grazing Complex is located in Upper and Little Applegate watersheds and extends from the low elevation foothills to the high country of the Siskiyou Crest where most of the cows stay for the summer. Cattle routinely reach the Siskiyou Crest before the approved grazing season has begun and are often left to graze later in the season than is allowed under the current AMP, creating severe impacts and over-utilization of forage resources.
The grazing strategy currently employed is referred to as “passive season long grazing,” meaning little, if any, management occurs once the cows are placed on federal land. The cows simply manage themselves and congregate at preferred “pastures” in high-elevation wet meadows doing great damage to wetlands, streams and sensitive meadow habitat. Many sensitive habitats are being degraded or denuded by cows. Forage resources (grasses, forbs and shrubby growth) are being over-utilized by grazing cattle, leaving little for native elk and deer who prefer many of the same locations. Numerous springs, streams, wet meadows, and lakes that support populations of rare and sensitive plant species occur within the Applegate Grazing Complex.
“Livestock grazing alters the structure, diversity, and growth pattern of vegetation, which affects the associated insect community. Grazing during a time when flowers are already scarce may result in insufficient forage for pollinators. Grazing when butterfly larvae are active on host plants can result in larval mortality and high intensity grazing can cause local loss of forb abundance and diversity.” –Pollinator-Friendly Best Management Practices for Federal Lands
Much of the most intensive grazing occurs in designated Botanical Areas, established to protect botanical values; instead, grazing cattle heavily degrades many of these areas. Rare plant populations are being impacted by public land grazing and the intact habitats identified by the Forest Service for Botanical Area protection are being compacted, denuded, and mowed to the ground by unmanaged cattle grazing. Eight Botanical Areas are included within the Applegate Grazing Complex allotment boundaries: Lyman Gulch, Dutchman’s Peak, Observation Peak, Scraggy Mountain, White Mountain, Cook and Green Pass, Whisky Peak and Hinkle Lake.
Roadless Areas at the headwaters of the Applegate River are also being negatively impacted. Roadless areas within the allotment boundaries include: Observation Peak Roadless Area, Condrey Mountain Roadless Area, Kangaroo Roadless Area, and Whisky Peak Roadless Area. Low elevation roadless areas, including the Little Greyback Roadless Area, Collings-Kinney Roadless Area, Elliott Ridge Roadless Area and Boaz Mountain Roadless Areas would also be impacted by proposals to release cattle at lower elevations, allowing cattle to migrate upward as the snow melts. The release of cattle at the lower end of Mule Creek, Palmer Creek and Beaver Creek — all fish bearing streams — is proposed under the Applegate Grazing Complex Scoping Notice.
The proposal also includes grazing in the Red Buttes Wilderness, the largest intact wildland habitat in the Applegate River watershed. It has been many years since the Red Buttes Wilderness has been actively grazed.
Provide a Public Comment on the Applegate Grazing Complex
Applegate Grazing Complex Scoping comments are due on March 31, 2017.
Written comments can be sent to:
Donna Mickley, District Ranger, c/o Greta Smith
6941 Upper Applegate Road
Jacksonville, Oregon 97530.
Email comments may be submitted to:
For further information about the project contact Mark Hocken, Project Team Leader, Siskiyou Mountains Ranger District: firstname.lastname@example.org or via phone: 541-899-3830.
Sample Scoping Comment
Re: Applegate Grazing Complex Scoping Comment
Attention: District Ranger Donna Mickley c/o Greta Smith
6941 Upper Applegate Road
Jacksonville, Oregon 97530
Donna Mickley, District Ranger,
The Applegate Grazing Complex is a very significant land management project, encompassing vast acreages of federal land and creating both direct and indirect impacts across the Applegate River watershed and the Siskiyou Crest. Livestock grazing on public land is associated with widespread impacts to riparian areas, water quality, wetlands, fisheries, hydrology, native plant habitat, rare plant habitat, wildlife habitat and pollinator habitat. The scope and scale of the project requires an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), rather than a less comprehensive Environmental Assessment (EA).
The Siskiyou Crest is a botanical wonderland and a regionally important connectivity corridor. It is one of the most significant concentrations of biological diversity on the West Coast of North America. For many years this botanical paradise has been subjected to severe overgrazing. Please consider the following substantive issues in the upcoming NEPA analysis for the Applegate Grazing Complex.
Consider discontinuing grazing allotments on the Siskiyou Crest, especially in allotments that are not currently meeting water quality standards; in allotments that have severe stream/wetland degradation; in allotments that have significant impacts to Botanical Areas and botanical values; and in allotments that create conflicts with other appropriate uses like the Pacific Crest Trail.
End “passive season long grazing” on the Siskiyou Crest and require all permittees to actively herd cattle from “pasture” to “pasture.” Do not allow cattle to congregate in preferred locations for more than 14 days.
As part of the environmental review, it is essential that qualified Forest Service specialists assess stream, wetland and meadow conditions in order to determine and disclose whether streams, wetlands and meadows are functioning properly ecologically. If there are streams, wetlands and meadows on these allotments which are not functioning properly, Forest Service managers must determine how cattle grazing is impacting properly functioning condition and adjust grazing practices, including the number of livestock allowed to graze, the season of grazing at different elevations, and the grazing system that will be used to end the degradation and return streams, wetlands and meadows to properly functioning ecological condition.
Stream, riparian and wetland exclosures should be established, and where they have been removed, they should be restored. Livestock exclosures are the only valid method to determine if grazing is significantly altering the composition and structure of riparian and wetland vegetation.
Analysis must identify all provisions of the Clean Water Act that apply to the grazing allotments and require all grazing allotments to be consistent with the mandates of the Clean Water Act.
Analysis must identify impacts to Botanical Areas and require that AMPs are consistent with Botanical Area designation.
Analysis must identify impacts associated with early season grazing along low-elevation stream corridors, especially along fish bearing streams such as Beaver Creek, Mule Creek, Palmer Creek and Kinney Creek.
Analysis must identify the impact of competition between cattle and the growing elk population on the Siskiyou Crest. Cattle numbers, seasonality of use, intensity of use and the lack of herding must address the issue of competition between cattle and elk for available forage resources.
Analysis must identify the existing condition of willow flycatcher habitat (an agency sensitive species) in the EA, document impacts associated with cattle grazing, and limit the number of cattle or seasonality of use to mitigate impacts to willow flycatcher habitat.
Implement the recommendations for Livestock Grazing written in the Federal publication, Pollinator-Friendly Best Management Practices for Federal Land. Utilize these guidelines for pollinator habitat and to identify impacts to pollinator habitat from grazing activities. Limit the number of cattle and seasonality of use to mitigate the impacts of grazing on pollinators. Special attention should be taken to restore, enhance and promote the maintenance of habitat for the Sierra blue butterfly (an agency sensitive species), Western bumble bee, Franklin’s bumble bee, and the monarch butterfly.
Analyze the impact of historic grazing on dry bunchgrass habitat and in “cattle barrens” created by historic and contemporary overgrazing. Review the restoration of dry bunchgrass habitat in vacant or unused areas and compare them to areas that are actively grazed. Create guidelines within the AMPs to address the loss of historic dry bunchgrass habitat and the restoration of these communities due to non-use.
The Applegate Neighborhood Network (ANN), Klamath Forest Alliance (KFA), and the Siskiyou Crest Blog have joined forces to monitor Off-Road Vehicle (OHV) use on the Siskiyou Crest. We monitor a vast region in the eastern Siskiyou Mountains from Grayback Mountain to Mount Ashland. For the past two years we have been publishing Siskiyou Crest OHV Monitoring Reports. We spend countless hours walking the ridges and forests of the Siskiyou Crest, following and monitoring OHV trails. Our goal is to document the impacts of illegal and unauthorized OHV use, notify the agency of violations, and advocate for ecological values.
The Forest Service, although the land managers in the area, are not always aware of the impacts that are occurring from unauthorized OHV use on the public land they manage. The Siskiyou Crest OHV Monitoring Reports have documented significant impacts to the region’s Botanical Areas, Roadless Areas, and to the non-motorized experience on the Pacific Crest Trail. We have recently been meeting with both the Rogue River-Siskiyou and Klamath National Forests to address OHV impacts and eliminate unauthorized routes. We intend to protect the important habitats and non-motorized recreational experiences of the Siskiyou Crest.
These places are too special, and the ridges and meadows too beautiful to be turned into unauthorized roads, motorcycle paths or OHV routes.
We are also currently working on a BLM OHV Monitoring Report focused on the foothills of the Applegate Valley, specifically the numerous roadless areas on BLM land, including the Dakubetede Roadless Area and Wellington Butte Roadless Areas. Our current project area extends across the Applegate Valley on all BLM lands.
If you see OHV damage while hiking the Siskiyou Mountains, take pictures, document the impacts and please contact ANN at email@example.com
ANN & KFA want to thank you for your continued support of our annual OHV Monitoring Reports. Your support has made this important work possible!
The Applegate Trails Association (ATA) has worked for many years to gain approval for the East Applegate Ridge Trail, and this week the BLM approved the trail through a Decision Record. This means trail construction can finally begin!
ATA will be conducting volunteer trail building days where community members can come get their hands in the dirt and be a part of building this beautiful non-motorized trail.
The East Applegate Ridge Trail is the first section of trail intended to connect the cities of Jacksonville and Grants Pass, Oregon. The trail will traverse the ridgeline dividing the Applegate from the Rogue Valley, including areas above Ruch, Applegqte and North Applegate Road. The East Applegate Ridge Trail will extend from just above Sterling Creek Road 5.6 miles to Highway 238 near Forest Creek Road.
Come see a film that features the East Applegate Ridge Trail this weekend! The Siskiyou Film Festival will be featuring Hiking the Wild Applegate, a film created by the Applegate Trails Association. Hiking the Wild Applegate documents the first (mostly) off-trail thru-hike of the Jack-Ash and Applegate Ridge Trails. If you love the Applegate Valley you will surely be moved by this touching adventure film full of beautiful Applegate scenery.
The East Applegate Ridge Trail is sure to become a favorite hike in the Applegate Valley. The trail will offer hikers spectacular vistas, beautiful oak woodlands, sunlit grasslands and shady conifer forests. Please consider attending ATA sponsored trail building parties this spring!
When: April 1, 2017 8:30 AM-1:30 PM
Where: Meet at the East Applegate Ridge Trailhead on BLM road 38-2-29.1. This road is accessed from Sterling Creek Rd. 0.4 miles north of the Woodrat Mountain Access Road. Signs will point the way to the trailhead.
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
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
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
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
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 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.
Applegate Neighborhood Network: The Year in Review
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.
Nedsbar Timber Sale:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
(be sure to include Shana McCarty in the subject line)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.