Friday, December 12, 2014

Nedsbar Timber Sale: Regeneration Unit 28-22B

Unit 28-22B in the Nedsbar Timber Sale. The unit supports open, fire-adapted late seral habitat conditions due to the influence of recent, low severity fire. The stand sustained understory fire in 1987 and remains a healthy example of late seral, old-growth forest in the foothills of the Applegate Valley. The unit needs no treatment whatsoever to reduce fuels or address forest health concerns and should be canceled.

           The Nedsbar Timber Sale is located in the Upper and Little Applegate Valleys on public lands administered by the Medford District BLM. The BLM has proposed a large, landscape scale timber sale focused solely on producing timber for private industry. The proposed timber sale includes over 100 units spread across thousands of acres of public land, including the Dakubetede Roadless Area, the proposed Dakubetede Primitive Area, and an important connectivity corridor connecting the foothills of the Applegate Valley and the Siskiyou Crest. The forests proposed for logging include some of the driest forest habitat in Oregon, west of the Cascade Mountains. They also include important late seral habitat for species such as the Pacific fisher and Northern spotted owl, as well as the threatened coho salmon. 
           As part of the Nedsbar Community Monitoring Program I recently visited numerous  commercial units proposed for logging in the Nedsbar Timber Sale. Although numerous of the units I visited supported healthy, fire-adapted stands and should be canceled, unit 28-22B was by far the most egregious I have seen so far.
           Unit 28-22B is located directly above the confluence of the Little Applegate River and Yale Creek on a very steep, north-facing slope. The unit lies within an unroaded portion of the proposed Dakubetede Primitive Area. The area burned in the Cantrall Fire of 1987, creating a mosaic of habitat types and stand structures, ranging from brushfields, to hardwood stands and oak woodlands, to various conifer habitats of pine and fir. Unit 28-22B represents some of the older, more complex and fire-adapted forest habitat in the area. 
            The 1987 underburn created a spacious and open forest of large Douglas fir, madrone, black oak, and in the draws, bigleaf maple. The unit has a relatively closed canopy, discouraging the development of understory fuels. In fact, fuel concerns in the unit are minimal, at best. Fire risks to surrounding communities would be greatly increased through the proposed “regeneration” logging prescriptions in unit 28-22B. These prescriptions would leave only 16-25 trees per acre, logging large, fire resistant trees and drastically opening the canopy to increased light infiltration. This increase in light will in turn create “regeneration,” or an increase in young growth, creating increased fuel loads and fire risks to the surrounding communities and forest stands. The stand would also be exposed to drying winds, increased sunlight, and shrub encroachment due to the large levels of canopy removal proposed. The complex structural conditions and layered canopy necessary for the Northern spotted owl would also be heavily degraded. 
Take note of how low the fuel risk is within Unit 28-22B. Regeneration harvesting in this unit would drastically increase fuel risks in a Wildland Urban Interface, adjacent to rural homes in the Little Applegate Valley

           The unit currently provides important features that would be damaged by regeneration logging, including old-growth characteristics, Northern spotted owl habitat, thermal cover for the area’s ungulate population, extremely low fuel risks, fire adapted forest habitats and scenic values. Unit 28-22B is not a stand in need of treatment; in fact, it could be seen as a “reference” ecosystem, as it still supports large, old trees and fire influenced stand conditions.
            To make matters worse, the BLM has proposed to construct roughly 1.5 miles of new road to access unit 28-22B and a handful of other commercial units on the ridgeline dividing Yale Creek and the Little Applegate River. With this new road would no doubt also come large landing construction, noxious weeds, OHV use, litter, and other disruptions to local wildlife and habitat conditions. The creation of new road in otherwise inaccessible areas will also increase the risk of human caused fire. Much of the proposed road construction would impact chaparral and oak woodland habitat. The combined effect would create a significant disturbance in this otherwise small, unroaded area.
            Unit 28-22B, and the new road construction proposed to access the unit, should be canceled. The residents of the Little Applegate should not be exposed to increased fire risks for the benefit of private industrial timber. Important habitat should not be sacrificed due to the demands of private industry placed upon public lands. It is our land; lets get out and defend it. 
Unit 28-22B

           The Siskiyou Crest blog and the Klamath Forest Alliance (KFA) are organizing a community-monitoring program for the Nedsbar Timber Sale. If you have a unit in your backyard or are motivated to go visit one, please go check it out and report back to us to help identify where units of concern are located. Email siskiyoucrest@gmail.com Pictures and unit descriptions are very helpful.
           Please contribute to the campaign to protect the Applegate Valley from the Nedsbar Timber Sale with your time, energy, and perhaps a few dollars. The Klamath Forest Alliance will be working with the local community and environmental organizations to oppose the Nedsbar Timber Sale and promote a sustainable management strategy that will emphasize fuel reduction, habitat protection, and the restoration of forest and watershed values in the Siskiyou Mountains.

Send donation to:
Klamath Forest Alliance
P.O. Box 21
Orleans, CA
95556
(Please specify your donation is for Nedsbar Timber Sale)

Nedsbar Timber Sale map depicting the location of unit 28-22B and the new road construction proposed to facilitate logging the area.

       

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Update: Nedsbar Timber Sale


Open, fire-adapted mixed conifer forest in unit 15-30 of the Nedsbar Timber Sale. The unit is located within the Buncom Roadless Area, a portion of the proposed Dakubetede Primitive Area. Logging this unit would impact habitat and ecological values while increasing fuel risks. The unit should be canceled and eliminated from the sale. 


The Nedsbar Timber Sale is a large BLM timber sale located in the Upper and Little Applegate Valleys. The planning area includes some of the last roadless terrain in the foothills of the Applegate Valley. It is also located in an important connectivity corridor the leads from the Rogue Valley, near the towns of Talent and Ashland, Oregon, across the Applegate Valley to the Siskiyou Crest, and into the wilderness complex of the Marble, Salmon, and Trinity Alps of Northern California. Environmentalists and local citizens in the area have begun working to either stop or significantly alter the project as it is currently proposed.

Over 30 Applegate Valley residents attended the BLM field trip on Nov. 19, 2014.
 On November 19, 2014 the BLM led a field trip to a few of the more accessible units in the Nedsbar Timber Sale. Over thirty local citizens concerned about the timber sale attended the tour to inform themselves of what is truly at stake. The community provided a lively discussion of the issues and voiced strong opposition to the agency's timber heavy prescriptions and proposal. To our surprise, the BLM did announce that they were dropping 31 units throughout the planning area, including older stands, quality nesting, roosting, and foraging habitat for the Northern spotted owl, as well as numerous units located in small roadless areas. They also reduced, but did not eliminate, the acreage proposed for "regeneration harvest," a sivicultural technique where only 16-25 trees per acre remain after the area is logged. There are now only three units proposed as "regeneration harvest."

BLM field trip into 19-20A, a regeneration unit.
Additionally, the BLM's initial proposal for Nedsbar included "disease management" prescriptions — that would have targeted mistletoe "infested" stands, leaving only 6-9 trees per acre — that have now been canceled. This is especially important because all known spotted owl nest sites on BLM land within the Little Applegate have been documented in mistletoe brooms.

Although the sale has been altered, numerous units remain that will impact the proposed Dakubetede Primitive Area, a number of small roadless areas, and many acres of previously uncut forest. Many more units need to be canceled and a new management approach promoted that will restore functional connectivity corridors, reduce fuel hazards in the wildland urban interface, retain wildlife habitat, and facilitate the production of high quality water throughout the watershed for threatened coho fisheries and thriving local farms.

The currently narrow and limiting "purpose and need" of the Nedsbar Timber Sale, as defined by the BLM, emphasizes timber management over all other social, economic and ecological values. In a watershed designated as a key watershed for the threatened coho salmon, that supports unusually high density populations of the Northern spotted owl, harbors exceptional levels of biodiversity, provides popular recreational opportunities, and is developing a thriving local economy based on scenic values, tourism, outdoor recreation, as well as organic farms, ranches, and vineyards, such a timber heavy approach is unacceptable.


Looking into Nedsbar unit 14-30 in the Buncom Roadless Area. A new road is proposed to be constructed on the ridge in the foreground, extending onto the knoll above unit 14-30, in the center of the photo. See map below.

Proposed road construction for three units of the Nedsbar Timber Sale. These roads will be constructed in currently unroaded areas.


The heavy and unsustainable extraction of timber in the Upper and Little Applegate areas has the potential to heavily impact the quality of life and the developing economy of the region. The Nedsbar Timber Sale would also have substantial impact to the region's natural values such as fisheries, wildlife habitat, water quality, etc. There is currently a subgroup of the Applegate Neighborhood Network that is working on a "community alternative" for the Nedsbar Timber Sale. The BLM has promised to analyze the community alternative as part of it's Environmental Analysis (EA) process. The BLM's EA is due to be released to the public for comment in March, 2015.

Community monitoring in unit 30-20





The Siskiyou Crest blog is trying to organize a community monitoring program for the Nedsbar Timber Sale. If you have a unit in your backyard or are motivated to go visit one, please check it out and report back to us to help us identify where units of concern are located. Email: siskiyoucrest@gmail.com Pictures and unit descriptions are very helpful.

Unit 15-30




 


Please contribute to the campaign to protect the Applegate Valley from the Nedsbar Timber Sale with your time, energy, and perhaps a few dollars. The Klamath Forest Alliance will be working with the local community and environmental organizations to oppose the Nedsbar Timber Sale and promote a sustainable management strategy that will emphasize fuel reduction, habitat protection, and the restoration of forest and watershed values in the Siskiyou Mountains.

Send donation to:
Klamath Forest Alliance
P.O. Box 21
Orleans, CA 
95556
Klamath Forest Alliance
(Please specify your donation is for Nedsbar Timber Sale)

This map is hard to read here, but can be viewed easier on the BLM's Nedsbar Web Page if you click on "Public Involvement," and then "Field Trip Draft Map."  BLM's Nedsbar Web Page









Thursday, December 4, 2014

Applegate Dam hydroelectric project terminated by FERC

            
Applegate Dam and Reservoir
          The tale of the proposed hydropower generation facility on the Applegate Dam is one of corporate mergers, joint ventures and acquisitions, and less about actually generating electricity. 

            Symbiotics LLC originally obtained the license and permit from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in 2009, then later Ag Hydro LLC took over the license. Symbiotics and Ag Hydro are now both subsidiaries of Riverbank Power Corporation. Based in Toronto, Canada, Riverbank Power is a developer, constructor and operator of hydropower generation facilities in North and South America, with offices in Toronto, Oregon, Utah, Idaho and Lima, Peru.

            After all the efforts of the federal government; after all the corporate financing poured into the project; after all the energy of local Applegaters to attend public meetings and write public comments about the proposal, and after more than a decade, the project has been officially terminated by FERC. The reason as stated in FERC’s Order Terminating License issued October 16, 2014: “…we find that AG Hydro failed to commence project construction by the deadline established pursuant to section 13 of the Federal Power Act (FPA). We therefore must terminate the license.” However, after reading this Order it appears to me that Ag Hydro just completely dropped the ball. Read FERC'S Order Terminating License yourself; it is an interesting read.

The Applegate River emerging from the Applegate Dam

       Some of the reasons stated for the termination of the project within the Order are: 
  • Ag Hydro filed drawings stamped “Not for Construction."
  • Ag Hydro failed to submit a formal project financing plan. 
  • Ag Hydro’s steel liner design was considered unacceptable and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) asked for major modifications to the project design, but Ag Hydro did not file an amendment application to address the issues. 
  • Ag Hydro did not meet the deadline to start project construction on December, 17 2011, and after being granted a two-year extension they didn’t meet the final deadline to start project construction on December, 17 2013. 
  • Ag Hydro submitted inadequate documentation to prove manufacturing of turbine components at its manufacturing facility in China. 
  • Ag Hydro submitted photos of blueprints that were ineligible and in Chinese, and the only dates on the drawings referenced 2006, predating the FERC license. 
  • Ag Hydro failed to complete other pre-construction requirements. 
  • Ag Hydro ordered turbines differing from those authorized in the license.

            It’s clear that it was in the best interest of Applegate Valley residents, the Applegate River and public coffers that this project was terminated by FERC. Despite being told by Symbiotics at public meetings here in the valley that they wanted to “work with the community,” it appears that Symbiotics/Ag Hydro didn’t even want to work with the agency, let alone the community, and they completely mismanaged this project.

            Unfortunately, we are still left with an uncertain future regarding the health of salmonid fish (fall chinook, coho, steelhead, and cutthroat trout) in the Applegate River. When the Applegate Dam was constructed in 1980 it blocked an estimated 35-80 miles of spawning and rearing habitat above the Applegate dam according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries. Coho salmon in the Applegate River belong to the Southern Oregon-Northern California Coast Evolutionary Significant Unit, which is listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. The 242 foot dam would require a fish ladder that would be 3.5 miles long to maintain the maximum 1.3% slope needed to keep the water velocity in the range of 6 to 12 feet per second to achieve the right conditions for upstream fish migration.

            Over and over the public has been told such a fish ladder would be financially unfeasible. That is why Ag Hydro had to include a plan within their proposal to trap adult steelhead at the dam’s base and truck them upstream above the dam, and retrofit the existing dam structure to allow fish to get back downstream on their own through a kind of chute. Hopefully the Army Corps of Engineers, which operates Applegate Dam, and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife can still find funding to restore fish to their original spawning streams above the Applegate Dam.

Suzie Savoie

Monday, November 10, 2014

KLAMATH NATIONAL FOREST PROPOSES MASSIVE POST-FIRE LOGGING PROJECT IN 2014 FIRES


View of the fire mosaic from the Happy Camp Fire in the Grider Creek Roadless Area. Numerous salvage logging units proposed in the Westside Fire Recvoery Project can be seen in this photo. All salvage logging in the Grider Creek watershed should be canceled as it is an important wildlife connectivity corridor.

The wildfires this past summer on the Klamath River burned in the Marble Mountains Wilderness, Russian Wilderness, Salmon River, Lower Scott River, and along the Klamath River between Happy Camp and Hamburg. In all, 215,371 acres burned in the Mid-Klamath watershed, creating a mosaic of mixed severity fire. The fires burned in a characteristic pattern, including roughly two-thirds low to very low severity fire. Many areas burned in the understory, clearing back fuel beneath a canopy of trees; some areas burned in a mixed pattern, thinning the overstory, while others sustained canopy fire, creating snag fields of fire-scorched timber. The result was the landscape-scale restoration of fire in a region with one of the west's most intact fire regimes.

Despite the regenerative nature of this summer's fires, the Klamath National Forest has proposed a massive salvage logging project — the Westside Fire Recovery Project (WFRP) — that would log over 40,000 acres of important post-fire habitat on public lands. The treatments proposed would log both green, live trees and fire killed trees. According to the agency's scoping notice, it is anticipated "that the majority of trees within salvage units will be harvested," including trees that survived the fire but the agency has decided are likely to die.

In my initial field research I have found numerous WFRP units that include high elevation species adapted to high to moderate severity fire, and stands that sustained less than 50% mortality. In many of the units I have visited, many large, green trees have survived the fires of 2014, but will they survive the logging frenzy to follow? 

Unit 511-Proposed for salvage logging in high elevation mountain hemlock (Tsuga mertensiana) forest adjacent to the Lake Mountain Botanical Area and the world's northern most stands of foxtail pine (Pinus balfouriana). The unit burned at low to moderate severity.

Unit 508- Partially burned red fir (Abies magnifica) forest at over 6000' proposed for salvage logging

Unit 508- A very large unit on the south face of Tom Martin Peak. Much of the unit burned at low to moderate severity, including this interesting transition zone between serpentine woodland and high elevation forest.
Unit 535- This unit in the Grider Creek watershed and adjacent to the Grider Roadless Area contains many live, old-growth trees of fire adapted species such as jeffery pine and incense cedar. Much of the unit burned at moderate to low severity and natural fire effects helped to maintain an open, fire adapted condition.

Currently the Klamath National Forest is accepting public comments on the Westside Fire Recovery Project. It is important that they hear from you. Below is a list of exclusion zones, project design features, and minimum prescription guidelines that could be incorporated into a public comment on this important issue. 


Exclusion areas
·      No salvage logging or planting units within Inventoried Roadless Areas, including the Grider, Tom Martin, Russian, Snoozer, Kelsey, or Johnson Roadless Areas.
·      No salvage logging on sensitive soils, active landslides, earth flows and other erosive soil types.
·      No salvage units on decomposed granite.
·      No salvage and no tree planting units in Late Successional Reserves.
·      No salvage units in Riparian Reserves.
·      No salvage units in special habitat designations such as Northern spotted owl (NSO) activity centers, peregrine falcon or goshawk activity centers.
·      No salvage units in Bald Eagle Management Areas.
·      No salvage in Critical Habitat for NSO.
·      No salvage logging in designated or recommended Wild and Scenic River segments.
·      No salvage units in the Grider Creek drainage to protect roadless values, watershed values, scenic values — such as the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and connectivity between the Marble Mountains Wilderness and the adjacent LSRs.
·      No salvage units should be proposed in the following watersheds or areas to protect ecological values, scenic values, and recreational qualities within and adjacent to large Inventoried Roadless Areas or Wilderness Areas. This would include the following areas:
                  Happy Camp Fire: Grider Creek, N. Fork Kelsey Creek, McGuffy Creek,                     Kuntz Creek, Tom Martin Creek
                        Whites Fire: E. Fork Whites Gulch, Sixmile Creek, South Russian Creek,                           Tanners Peak area
·      No salvage in endemic or rare conifer stands and adjacent available habitat. This would include foxtail pine (Pinus balfouriana), Baker’s cypress (Cupressus bakeri), and Brewer spruce (Picea breweriana) to allow for natural regeneration.

Project design features
·      No new roads, either permanent or temporary.
·      No tree planting units; natural regeneration is adequate due to generally small patch size from high severity fire effects. Seed trees are nearly always present and regeneration adequate. Plantation style planting will only increase future fire risk and should be avoided at all costs.
·      No helicopter units. Activity slash left from helicopter units is very difficult to cleanup and will increase fire activity in future fires. Likewise the economics of helicopter logging necessitates the removal of large, old trees and snags.
·      No salvage logging should take place in partially burned stands that sustained minimal (less than 70%) mortality. Undamaged or partially fire damaged stands provide disproportionately important roles in ecological recovery and refugia for the survival of particular biota.
·      No salvage logging in high elevation sites above 6,000’, including mountain hemlock (Tsuga mertensiana), red fir (Abies magnifica), and white fir (Abies concolor) plant communities. These habitat types are adapted to long fire return intervals and relatively high severity fire effects. Scattered snag patches are natural, and due to the landscape location and short growing season, will recover slowly and create minimal fuels as succession takes place.  

Minimum prescription guidelines for salvage units
·      Emphasize the retention of biological legacies such as large live trees, large snags, coarse woody debris, and intact thickets of unburned vegetation. These features should be retained in falling and yarding operations. (Lindenmeyer & Franklin 2008 p.29-34 & 143-146)
·      Retain adequate large downed wood for slope stability and regeneration.
·      Retain adequate snags for downed wood recruitment and cavity nesting habitat. This may include significantly higher levels of snag retention than in other logging applications — up to 25 snags per acre — due to attrition and collapse of damaged trees. The impact of salvage logging can often accelerate windthrow and attrition in snag fields.
·      Snags with broken or forked tops, complex branching, cat faces, fire damage that will encourage hollows and cavity creation, large diameter trunks, and/or rot resistant species should be retained.
·      Retain the largest live trees and snags in all salvage units. Consider the retention of snags in aggregates with scattered large snags in between the aggregates. Consider retaining groupings of snags around existing live trees.
·      Retain all trees with green foliage. No “bycatch” logging of green trees should occur in any salvage unit.
·      No salvage units on slopes exceeding 60%
·      Burn all activity slash.

Please send public comments
Westside Fire Recovery Project
 Wendy Coats/Klamath National Forest
wcoats@fs.fed.us  






Thursday, November 6, 2014

Presentation: Rock Garden Plants of the Siskiyou Crest

Brown's peony (Paeonia brownii) growing in the Little Grayback Roadless Area in the foothills of the Siskiyou Crest.

The Siskiyou Chapter of the North American Rock Garden Society is hosting a presentation by Luke Ruediger about the rock garden plants of the Siskiyou Crest. Luke's talk will focus on flowering plants in the high mountains of the Siskiyou Crest and the Applegate foothills.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014 
7pm
Location
UCC/Lidgate Hall at 1801 E. Jackson in Medford (just north of Hedrick Middle School).






Presentation: The Siskiyou Crest: Trails, Treks & Biodiversity

Bigelow Lakes in the Grayback Range

Luke Ruediger will give a presentation about the Siskiyou Crest as it extends from the Coast Range of northern California to the southern Cascade Mountains near the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. Renowned for its biodiversity and the amazing connectivity corridor  this unusual east-west tending mountain range provides, the region also offers miles of backcountry trails and wildland habitats. This lecture is part of The Siskiyou Field Institute's  Friday Evening Free Lecture Series.


Friday, November 14, 2014
6:30 pm
Location: Deer Creek Center in Selma, OR
For more information, visit thesfi.org or call 541-597-8530







Friday, October 24, 2014

Why Wilderness...


Linderman Lake in the South Warner Wilderness in Modoc County, California

        The Shaw Historical Library — an affiliate of the Oregon Institute of Technology in Klamath Falls, Oregon — is a bioregional archive of human and natural history for the "Land of the Lakes," a large bioregion encompassing south central Oregon, southeastern Oregon, northeastern California, and northwestern Nevada. Published annually, this year's Journal of the Shaw Historical Library commemorates the passage of the 1964 Wilderness Act for its 50th anniversary. Titled, Why Wilderness...50 Years of Wilderness in the Land of the Lakes, the journal — more of a book, really — explores wilderness areas of the region with personal accounts, essays, maps, and beautiful color photography. Why Wilderness... features essays from local ecologist and professor emeritus of biology at SOU, Frank Lang; executive director of Oregon Wild, Sean Stevens; hiking guide author Bill Sullivan; Crater Lake National Park Historian, Stephen Mark; regional editor for the Klamath Falls Herald and News, and Chair of the Shaw Historical Library Journal Committee, Lee Juillerat, and many more, including an essay from myself, Luke Ruediger

        Below is my essay featured in Why Wilderness...50 Years of Wilderness in the Land of the Lakes. Copies of the journal can be purchased for $20.00 from the Shaw Historical Library website.


Why Wilderness?
Summit Lake and the Diamond Peak Wilderness

Wilderness is a place on the landscape acknowledged for its wildness, a refuge from the industrialization of our modern world. In some cases it exists as a political reality, in some cases it does not and remains imminently threatened. Wilderness can be a majestic mountain paradise or dusty sagebrush flat speckled in bunchgrass and teeming with antelope; it can be an impenetrable slope of chaparral or quiet oak woodland; it can be a wild blue river in a deep rocky canyon or a plateau of scrubby lodgepole pine. It is a place where wolves can howl, elk can wallow, cougar can scream, salmon can spawn undisturbed in streams, and all things wild can live free. Where fire, flood, extended drought, volcanic eruptions, violent storms, and other forms of natural disturbance sculpt countless unique biological communities in a vast mosaic across the face of the land. Either sublime and dramatic, or seemingly typical and lacking in scenery, wilderness exists as a blank space on the map, yet fills an important void in our society. 

     Wilderness is a refuge for all wild things, where the forces of nature have shaped forests, grasslands, rivers, valleys, and peaks, and where the greedy hands of industry have yet to reach. Wilderness has not been commodified. It exists outside the current base of capital where resources are steadily churned into profits at the expense of our earth and to the detriment of future generations. Wilderness is the only landscape in our society where spiritual and ecological values outweigh economic values and the pressure of global markets to plunder local resources. Wilderness exists as an acknowledgement that exponential growth and development are threats to the earth and our own wellbeing. 

     Wilderness represents humility and restraint in a society where such values are distinctly lacking. It provides a feeling of reverence not found within the confines of the Wal-Mart reality. It offers a deep sense of place, and a respect for that place, to all that are open to it. Wilderness provides a connection, a window into the past and hope in the face of an uncertain future. Wilderness, through its silent persuasion, its awe-inspiring beauty and its untapped abundance, provides us with a way forward.

           
Mt. Thielsen Wilderness, a volcanic landscape in the Land of the Lakes.
      Wilderness allows us a moment to sit on a ridgeline at sunset, like so many have before us, and gaze across the horizon contemplating our world and the role we play in it. It allows us the clarity to see the connections and acknowledge our role as stewards among this natural community. After a night under the stars the wilderness allows us to awaken in the dirt, from a slab of stone, or the verdant green growth and welcome the sunrise as a part of this community. It allows us to feel the power of a charging bear or the silent terror of a stalking cougar, yet it also provides the protection of an ancient forest canopy or the bliss of singing songbirds and flower-filled meadows on a summer day. In these fleeting moments we can find our truth, we can find our way, we can become one with the sky and the land and the water that flows across it; we can feel the innate connection that makes us human animals among a natural community.

     Wilderness is not land free of human influence; it does not ignore the stewardship of indigenous people nor negate their legacy. Wilderness is a reflection of its history, yet largely free from the homogenizing imprint of modern industrial society. Wilderness is stewardship and management for biodiversity, trumping tree plantations, logging roads or strip mines.

     Wilderness, although a modern human construct, provides an immersion in nature that builds deeper relationships, spiritual ties and stronger land ethics. Our ability to build a new society based on sustainable, responsible and respectful interactions with the natural world will depend upon our sense of humility, restraint and interconnectedness. 
     Through wilderness we can once again discover these ancient traditions.
Luke Ruediger
2/2/14

Crater Lake National Park, although the crown jewel of the Land of the Lakes, it has no protected wilderness.