Thursday, June 25, 2015

OHV impacts in the Wellington Butte Roadless Area

The view from Wellington Butte looking southeast to Ruch, Oregon in the Applegate Valley. The Wellington Butte Roadless Area was identified by the BLM as an area containing 5,711 acres of "lands with wilderness characteristics." Relatively intact, low-elevation habitat such as that found in the foothills of the Applegate Valley is increasingly rare and in desperate need of protection.

The Wellington Butte Roadless Area in the Middle Applegate River watershed is a wonderfully diverse and beautiful region. The region hosts a complex mosaic of chaparral, oak woodland, madrone groves, mixed conifer forest, and grasslands. The Wellington Butte Roadless Area has recently been identified in the BLM's Lands with Wilderness Characteristic Inventory (LWC) as one of the last significant roadless tracts of BLM land in western Oregon. Located directly above Ruch and Applegate, Oregon the region is the backdrop for much of the Middle Applegate Valley.

The northeastern boundary of the roadless area is also, unfortunately, directly adjacent to the boundary of the BLM's John's Peak/Timber Mountain OHV area. The John's Peak/ Timber Mountain OHV Area was designated in the 1995 Resource Management Plan as an OHV area, but the area remains somewhat elusive. In 1995 the agency designated the OHV area and now, twenty years later, has yet to designate official trails. This has led to the proliferation of unauthorized, user-created OHV trails and cross country routes. The area now supports 92 miles of unauthorized user-created routes that generate large volumes of erosion, sedimentation, soil compaction, vegetation loss, and conflicts between local residents, private landowners, and public land use groups such as hikers, equestrians, mountain bikers and other forest users. In fact, in 2007, portions of the John's Peak/Timber Mountain OHV Area were closed to motorized vehicle use due to unacceptable environmental and resource impacts.

Today, OHV enthusiasts spilling out from the designated boundary of the John's Peak/Timber Mountain OHV Area have begun encroaching upon the largest roadless tract in the Middle Applegate Valley. Trails have been developed on the boundary of the roadless area and LWC; a few have nibbled at the edges and one controversial route cuts into the heart of the wild, unroaded region.

An example of unauthorized, user-created OHV trails and the damage they create. This is a dry meadow on the eastern edge of the Wellington Butte Roadless Area. OHV use has created severe impacts in the area at the head of China Gulch. Such damaging and irresponsible OHV use should be strongly discouraged by the BLM by enforcing a permanent motor vehicle closure in the area.

The worst OHV damage in the Wellington Butte Roadless Area emanates from China Gulch, a relatively small drainage north of Ruch, Oregon. The BLM road accessing China Gulch has been gated for many years, but OHV users have built routes around the road closure accessing the old mine road that winds up China Gulch to China Gulch Saddle. Numerous unauthorized, user-created trails have also been developed. A large, dry meadow in upper China Gulch has been turned into a "play area," where OHV tracks and user-created trails riddle the meadow with deep, compacted ruts. Trails wind back and forth across the meadow, the gulch, and up hill climbs adjacent to the meadow system. Impacts are significant and growing, while the BLM simply looks the other way. If this meadow system and the adjacent user-created trails are to be closed, the public must pressure the BLM to act. 

The meadow is located within the boundaries of the Wellington Butte Roadless Area and LWC, yet is also within the proposed boundaries of the John's Peak/Timber Mountain OHV Area. Protection of this meadow and the area's wilderness characteristics should be a high priority and would necessitate removal of the upper China Gulch area from the John's Peak Timber Mountain OHV Area. It would also necessitate aggressive OHV closure and meaningful enforcement of that closure. Noxious weed removal, meadow restoration, soil stabilization and active route decommissioning would also be necessary. 

On the flip side, public access and enjoyment of the area could be facilitated by developing a non-motorized trail. The trail could be created by simply using the existing decommissioned roadbed as a link to the Applegate Ridge Trail (ART), a non-motorized trail system proposed by the Applegate Trails Association (ATA) that would connect Grants Pass to Jacksonville, Oregon across the high ridgeline divide between the Rogue and Applegate Rivers. This would provide appropriate public access and also a public presence to make sure OHV traffic does not again dominate and degrade this important landscape.

This is a recent Google Earth image of the meadows at the top of China Gulch. The area is within an area identified as having wilderness characteristics, yet unauthorized, user-created OHV trails are severely impacting wilderness characteristics, native plant communities, hydrology, water quality, soils, wildlife habitat, the area's scenic nature, and the potential enjoyment of the area by other, more low impact visitors. The meadow badly needs a permanent OHV closure and meadow restoration; it should be managed for non-motorized recreation and designated as a portion of the Applegate Ridge Trail.

OHV ruts up to 4' deep on the ridgeline above China Gulch.
Another area within the Wellington Butte Roadless Area that is currently subjected to unauthorized and inappropriate OHV use is the high ridgeline dividing Long Gulch and the Balls Branch of Humbug Creek from Forest Creek. This high divide creates much of the roadless area's northern eastern boundary. OHV trails have penetrated the area, traveling roughly four miles across the ridgeline from the spectacular headwaters of the Balls Branch, over Long Gulch Saddle, to China Gulch Saddle. The route includes long stretches in open, grassy terrain very susceptible to cross country travel. This OHV route has damaged riparian areas in the upper portions of the Balls Branch of Humbug Creek, and it has very steep erosive sections that are rutted up to 4' deep, impacting hydrology and soil stability on the ridgeline above China Gulch. This long ridgeline route overlaps very closely with the proposed Applegate Ridge Trail. The ART would provide for public access and recreation that is more consistent with the region's ecological values and the area's beautiful wilderness character. The current OHV route should be closed to all motorized use and a new, more sustainable non-motorized trail should be designated and built across the high ridgeline as a vital link in the Applegate Ridge Trail system.
A view from the Wellington Mine Road.

OHV users have also taken to driving the long abandoned Wellington Mine Road, known to local hikers as the "Heart Trail," because it cuts straight through the heart of the Wellington Butte Roadless Area. This road was developed to provide access to a long defunct hard rock mine in the lower Humbug Creek drainage.  

On October 31, 2012, the road was "closed" to motorized use by BLM District Manager John Gerritsma. With broad-based community support, the local non-profit, Applegate Trails Association (ATA) raised funds to install two road closure devices and decommission the associated user-created trail leading into the Wellington Butte Roadless Area.  Work was completed on November 8, 2012 by volunteers facilitated through ATA. 

By November 26, 2012, District Manager John Gerritsma could not enforce or support the closure of the Wellington Mine Road because he had not followed proper road closure procedures, did not contact the Medford Motorcycle Riders Association (MRA) or the Association of O&C Counties regarding the closure, and had not provided an adequate alternative route for exclusive motorcycle use in exchange for the closure. He had also been receiving complaints from MRA members who wanted to ride OHVs through the wildlands. 

The BLM moved one of the road closure devices in December of 2012, opening the road to OHVs but not full sized vehicles. In August 2014, the remaining road closure barriers were physically moved without authorization by OHV enthusiasts, effectively reopening the Wellington Mine Road to all motorized traffic. This has left the "road" open by default and the issue has steadily become a major point of contention between motorized and non-motorized users in the area. 

The Wellington Mine Road is wide and erosive. In some places it is badly incised; soils have been compacted by dirt bike tires and washed with runoff into deep ruts. OHV related road runoff has also triggered a small landslide above numerous homes on lower Humbug Creek. The road travels through the heart of the wildland beneath forests of fir, ridges of chaparral and clearings of mountain mahogany. A few rare plant sites are also found adjacent to the road; one a rare orchid, Cypripedium fasciculatum, and the other the endemic Gentner's fritillaria, a bright reddish-purple lily found only in southwestern Oregon. The Wellington Mine Road should be closed to motorized use and designated as a hiking trail in the upcoming revisions to Western Oregon's Resource Management Plan. 

An OHV related landslide triggered by drainage, run-off, and over-saturation issues at the end of the Wellington Mine Road.

Please consider contacting the following BLM officials and voicing your concerns about OHV use in the Applegate Valley and the Wellington Butte Roadless Area, as well as the proposed creation of OHV Recreation Management Areas in the foothills of the Applegate Valley. In the revised West Oregon Resource Management Plan, eight separate Recreational Management Areas with allowances for OHV use are being considered in the Applegate Valley. This would codify and officially designate these areas for OHV use. It would also "grandfather" existing OHV routes for a period of up to five years while management plans and environmental analysis are prepared. The agency is taking comment on recreation and forest management in Western Oregon until July 23, 2015. Please speak out on behalf of southern Oregon's wild places.

Email comments for the RMP:

Local BLM officials:
Dayne Barron, District Manager
 John Gerritsma, Field Manager
Jerome Perez, State Director

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Applegate Valley OHV Monitoring Project fully funded!

OHV damage in the Dakubetede Roadless Area on Goat Cabin Ridge. I surveyed this area on June 4th, the day after fully funding my Kickstarter campaign. This was the first of many field days for the Applegate Valley OHV Monitoring Project. Thanks to the supporters of my Kickstarter, OHV routes throughout the Applegate Valley will be surveyed for environmental impacts and proposed for closure. 
On May 13, I initiated a Kickstarter campaign to fund the Applegate Valley OHV Monitoring Project, a comprehensive monitoring program to document the impacts of OHV use in the Applegate Valley, and advocate for ecological values, non-motorized recreation, wildlife, wildlands, and native plant communities. 

On June 3, I reached my funding goal and am now 123% funded. The outpouring of support speaks to the need for OHV monitoring and ecological advocacy. I believe that with these funds I can survey most of the heavily impacted OHV areas in the foothills of the Applegate Valley and portions of the Rogue Valley. To that end I have begun the project by getting out on the ground surveying OHV routes in the Little Applegate Valley and Forest Creek areas. 

I now have six days left to raise additional funds through kickstarter and have announced that all additional funds raised will support expansion of the project into other areas in need of attention. 

The area of highest priority is Hinkle Lake, a high elevation lake adjacent to the Red Buttes Wilderness, and one of the region's most spectacular landscapes. The region is a protected Botanical Area and proposed addition to the Red Buttes Wilderness. It is, unfortunately, also one of the region's most heavily impacted OHV areas. The region has been damaged by illegal OHV use, despite being officially closed to OHVs for thirty years. Throughout the years the official closure has been neglected and much damage has been done. In recent years environmentalists have successfully encouraged the Forest Service to implement and enforce the OHV closure; however, recently the gate protecting this area has been vandalized and off-roaders have mired the area's magnificent wet meadows with muddy tire tracks and deep, irreparable ruts.

Hinkle Lake, a wild botanical treasure that should not be subjected to OHV abuse.
If I receive additional funds I will be able to monitor the area throughout the summer and document violations of the motor vehicle closure and/or vandalism to gates and other infrastructure designed to eliminate illegal and ecologically damaging OHV use in the area. I will work collaboratively with local non-profits, private citizens, and the Forest Service to see that Hinkle Lake is protected for future generations. Please consider supporting this project or forwarding the links to my Kickstarter and this blogpost to potentially supportive individuals. Help me expand the project—let's protect Hinkle Lake too!

OHV damage in the Hinkle Lake basin.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

KICKSTARTER: Applegate Valley OHV Monitoring Project

Through the Siskiyou Crest Blog I have initiated a Kickstarter Campaign to fund a comprehensive OHV monitoring project in the foothills of the Applegate Valley, called the Applegate Valley OHV Monitoring Project. This project will document the impacts of unmanaged OHV use, publicize the findings, and create a detailed monitoring report to inform the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the local community about the impacts of unauthorized and unmanaged OHV use, as well as identify solutions and management recommendations that will protect ecological and societal values.

Unmanaged and unauthorized OHV use is common throughout BLM lands in southwest Oregon, including the Applegate Valley.

The Applegate Valley OHV Monitoring Project will focus on the remaining wildland habitats of the Applegate Foothills, including the Dakubetede Roadless Area, the Wellington Butte Roadless Area, the Anderson Butte region, and the John's Peak/Forest Creek region. The project will document and identify the impacts of OHV use in these special regions.

The Wellington Butte Roadless Area has been identified by the BLM as an area supporting wilderness characteristics, including intact oak woodlands, conifer forests, chaparral, and beautiful grasslands. The area is also directly adjacent the the BLM's John's Peak OHV Area. Use from the adjacent unmanaged OHV area is beginning to encroach upon this beautiful wildland. 

The project will coincide with the comment period for the BLM's Resource Management Plan (RMP). The RMP includes language that could officially approve and codify OHV use in the Applegate Valley without specific environmental review and analysis. The RMP's approach would be very similar to the current situation at John's Peak, where the BLM announced the declaration of the area as an OHV Emphasis Area, but 20 years later has yet to subject the area's vast network of user-created trails to environmental analysis. 

The agency designated John's Peak as an OHV area in 1995, but did not identify OHV routes or trails available for motorized use. Since this time over 90 miles of user-created OHV trails have been carved into the forest and slopes of the area with no official environmental analysis, agency oversight, or engineering whatsoever. The situation has been a complete free-for-all due to agency neglect and indifference. The BLM has proposed a "categorical exclusion," meaning they are trying to circumvent environmental analysis and public scrutiny by claiming that the over 90 miles of unauthorized OHV trails have little to no environmental impact. 

Let's not let the BLM get away with more favors to the OHV industry, especially in the Applegate Valley's last wild places. Support the Applegate Valley OHV Monitoring Project by making a donation to my Kickstarter Campaign. Together we can make a difference in the Siskiyou Mountains.

The Dakubetede Roadless Area is located in the Little Applegate watershed and is well known to local hikers, mountain bikers, equestrians, and trail runners as the location of the Sterling Ditch Trail and the future location of the Jack-Ash Trail, which would extend from Ashland to Jacksonville, Oregon. The area is one of the most intact ecosystems in the Applegate foothills and one of the most heavily utilized non-motorized recreation areas on the Medford District BLM. The Dakubetede is also being increasingly impacted by unauthorized OHV use, severely impacting scenic values, ecological values, botanical values, and non-motorized recreational opportunities. With the increase in OHV use comes an increase in trash and illegal dumping, erosion, noxious weed spread, and noise pollution. OHV use is likely the largest threat to many of the Applegate Valley's wild and beautiful places. 

Support the Applegate Valley OHV Monitoring Project
Click here to view my Kickstarter

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Westside Project Public Meeting, Information & Videos

Seaid Valley and the Klamath River viewed from the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) on Devils Ridge in the Kangaroo Roadless Area. The fire-effected slopes across the river are targeted for extensive salvage logging in the wild, salmon stronghold of Grider Creek.  

This photo depicts a few of the 229 units proposed for logging in the Westside Fire Recovery Project. The proposed salvage units, outlined in red, would devastate this wild and scenic region with large, clear-cut swaths, disrupting natural recovery and impacting innumerable ecological and societal values. The area includes the PCT; steep and unstable soils subject to erosion; Late Successional Reserve (LSR) forest important for spotted owls; a Bald Eagle Management Area, and very important connectivity habitat between the Marble Mountains Wilderness Area and the Red Buttes Wilderness Area. This ecologically important region—and scenic national treasure—should not be logged and converted into highly flammable and ecologically destitute tree plantations.

The Comment Period for the Westside Salvage Recovery Project will be coming to a close on April 27, 2015. Please comment on this project. It is one of the largest timber sales proposed in Forest Service history and has the potential to create extreme environmental impacts in some of the most intact watersheds on the West Coast. Below are links to detailed information on the project and great videos that will help you create a meaningful comment by addressing the relevant issues.

Attend the public meeting!!! 
Let's pack the house for the Klamath River
Tuesday, April 21st, 4pm-7:30pm
4:00pm—Press conference and comment delivery
4:30pm-7:30pm—Open house
Rogue Regency Inn
2300 Biddle Road
Medford, OR

Klamath National Forest officials will be there to answer questions and provide information. Please come out and advocate for the Klamath River and its wildlife, wild rivers and Native people. 

Stop the Westside Salvage Recovery Project!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Klamath River Fire Reports

Mixed Severity Fire in the Happy Camp Fire on the slopes of the Scott River Canyon.

The summer of 2014 brought smoke, ash and fire to the Klamath Mountains, including three large wildfires on the Klamath National Forest. Combined, the fires burned over 218,000 acres, leaving their mark on the forests and woodlands of the Klamath, Salmon, and Scott River watersheds. Due to the drought and extreme fire conditions the fires were suppressed with aggressive firefighting tactics that created lasting environmental impacts. The Klamath National Forest has declared these fires catastrophic and the fire effected forests are now being targeted for extreme salvage logging proposals. The agency has offered rhetoric and spin to justify their proposal, claiming that the fires burned in a manner outside the characteristic mosaic of mixed severity fire in the Klamath Mountains. The industry is pushing hard to log large swaths of the fire area, converting natural fire effected stands into vast tree plantations. 

Some of us are asking: How did these fires actually burn and what were the effects? Were the fires "within the range of variability" for mixed severity fire in the Klamath Mountains, or outside the characteristic fire effects? Did suppression actions such as widespread "backfiring" impact burn severity and overstory mortality? Did suppression crews build damaging fire lines in sensitive areas, impact wildland values, water quality, or endangered species habitat? The Klamath-Siskiyou Fire Reports strive to answer these questions, identify the impacts of fire suppression and recommend solutions. The reports also provide detailed information about fire effects, burn severity, and the progression of these fires across the landscape. 

Dozerline created during the suppression of the Happy Camp Fire on Doolittle Ridge.
Siskiyou Crest Blog author, Luke Ruediger, researched and wrote two of the fire reports, including the Happy Camp Fire Report and the Beaver Fire Report. The text of both of these reports, as well as a fire report for the Whites Fire on the Salmon River, are also available on the Klamath Forest Alliance website. The Klamath-Siskiyou Fire Reports can be downloaded and viewed at the dropbox link provided below. The top two reports are text only, the lower two reports have color photos and burn severity maps imbedded within the text. Please read the reports, advocate for fire suppression reform, and speak out on behalf of the Klamath River. 

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Keep the Klamath River Wild!

Westside Fire Recovery Project Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) Public Comment Period
Low-severity fire from the Happy Camp Fire Complex in the Marble Mountain Wilderness at the headwaters of Wooley Creek, one of northern California's wildest old-growth habitats.

This past summer three large fires — the Happy Camp, Whites and Beaver Fires — burned over 218,600 acres in the Klamath River watershed. The Happy Camp and Whites Fires burned in a natural mosaic, including over 70% low to very low severity fire. These fires burned in roadless wildlands, Late Successional Reserves (LSR), botanical areas, logged-over matrix lands, and both the Russian and Marble Mountain Wilderness Areas. The Beaver Fire, on the other hand, burned in forests largely converted to tree plantations, large portions of which are private timber land. Consequently, the fire severity was highest in the Beaver Fire, with 40% of the fire area effected by high severity fire; nearly double that of the Whites or Happy Camp Fires. 

Many private timber lands supporting plantation stands burned at high severity in the Beaver Fire. The Westside Fire Recovery Project proposes to create tens of thousands of plantation stands through salvage logging and tree planting, both activities that will impair natural recovery and increase fuel hazards in the post-fire landscape.

The Klamath National Forest has responded to these fires by proposing the Westside Fire Recovery Project, a massive "salvage" logging project that would convert tens of thousands of acres into highly flammable tree plantations. The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) has been released and the agency is accepting public comment until April 27, 2015. 

Although the agency is calling this a "recovery project," it is unclear what the project will recover beyond timber volume (i.e. financial recovery) through clear-cut salvage logging in fire-effected forests. The clear-cut logging and conversion of fire-effected stands into tree plantations will not only drastically increase fire hazards, but will also significantly impact watershed values, at-risk salmon populations, wildlife, natural forest habitats, post-fire recovery and old-growth forest reserves. 
Naturally regenerating post-fire habitat in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness Area. This area was effected by high severity fire, but was not salvage logged in the Biscuit Fire Recovery Project.
This stand, directly adjacent to the photo above, was salvage logged in the Biscuit Fire Recovery Project.

The Proposed Action is identified as Alternative 2 in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement. Alternative 2 proposes 11,700 acres of salvage logging, the majority of which would be clear-cut logging. The proposal includes roadside hazard logging on 650 miles of road, equaling 16,600 acres of linear clear-cuts along Forest Service roads. In past salvage logging projects the agency has logged 200' swaths on both sides of the road; however, in the Westside Project, the agency now proposes widening the logged area to 250' on either side of the road, making a 500' swath of clear-cut forest that winds across 650 miles of road on the Klamath National Forest. The project would also build 23 miles of "temporary" roads to facilitate salvage logging. Conversely, those units not accessed by roads will be helicopter logged, a logging system that the agency admits will create the largest fire hazard due to a significant increase in logging slash. 

The proposal includes significant impacts to sensitive wildlife species, including the removal of 1,205 acres of nesting, roosting, and foraging habitat for the northern spotted owl. There will also be impacts to bald eagle nesting sites, connectivity and home range habitat for the Pacific fisher, marten, and wolverine, as well impacts to key watersheds and highly erosive watersheds such as Elk Creek, Grider Creek, Tompkins Creek, and other salmon bearing tributaries of the Klamath, Salmon, and Scott Rivers. 

The Klamath National Forest has declared an “emergency situation determination” to expedite clear-cut logging and reduce the public’s and non-profit organizations’ abilities to appeal, protest, or litigate the project before cutting begins. The agency has fast-tracked large-scale logging in the Klamath River watershed in LSRs, key watersheds, and geologically unstable areas, and they apparently don’t want to hear what you have to say about it. Perhaps they should hear loud and clear why many in the local bioregion value the Klamath River, its forests, wildlife, and fisheries. Please consider commenting on the project; we need your support to stop one of the largest salvage logging proposals in the Klamath Mountains since the equally dishonest misnomer, the Biscuit Fire Recovery Project, which came out of the 2002 Biscuit Fire in the Kalmiopsis area. 

Is this what "recovery" looks like? The result of salvage logging and road building at the Babyfoot Lake Trailhead following the Biscuit Fire of 2002. The Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest salvage logged this once magnificent old-growth forest, illegally cutting within the Babyfoot Lake Botanical Area and to the edge of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness Area.

  Consider the following recommendations when providing public comment on the Westside Fire Recovery Project.

·      No salvage logging on sensitive granitic soils, active landslides, earth flows, geologic riparian reserves, and other erosive soil types.

·      No salvage and/or 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 including N. Fork Salmon River, Grider Creek, Elk Creek, Klamath River, and S. Russian Creek.

·      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, McCarthy Creek, Kuntz Creek, Mill Creek, Tom Martin Creek, Tom Martin Peak Area, Lake Mountain Botanical Area, Tyler Meadows Trailhead, Pacific Crest Trail, Cold Spring Trailhead.

                   Whites Fire: E. Fork Whites Gulch, Sixmile Creek, South Russian Creek, Tanners Peak area

·      No salvage units in endemic or rare conifer stands (and their adjacent available habitat) to allow for natural regeneration. This would include foxtail pine (Pinus balfouriana), Baker’s cypress (Cupressus bakeri), and Brewer spruce (Picea breweriana). 
·      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 hazard 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. 
·      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.

Keep the Klamath River wild!

Listen to Patty Grantham, Klamath National Forest Supervisor, spin the Westside Fire Recovery Project on the Jefferson Exchange radio program. 

Listen to George Sexton from KSWild and Craig Tucker from the Karuk Tribe discuss the ecological and social impact of the Westside Fire Recovery Project, in an interview on the Jefferson Exchange radio program. 

Click here for more information from the Forest Service on the project. 

Send comments to or click on the link below. 
Forest Service Public Comment Form 
Comments are due by April 27th.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Videos of Pacific fisher in the Siskiyou Mountains

Game cameras are a good way to capture images of wildlife in order to document their presence and monitor their behavior. We have been setting up game cameras in the Siskiyou Mountains for years, capturing photos or videos of bears, deer, ringtail cats, fox, grouse, lots of mice and other common critters.

Two weeks ago we finally got what we'd been working to capture on video for a couple years: Pacific fisher! These three videos were captured at three in the afternoon, so the videos turned out really good with full color, as opposed to nighttime videos that rely on infrared and are in black and white.

We captured footage of this fisher in the Elliott Ridge Roadless Area in the Upper Applegate at the foot of the Siskiyou Crest. The camera was set up on a small, seasonal tributary stream in an old-growth forest; just as we suspected, it is prime fisher habitat. Recently we had two deer killed on our property, presumably by a cougar. We took some of the bones from the deer kill for the camera and the fisher obviously was pleased to scavenge the bones. This particular fisher appears to be a male because of its large size. Notice the tail wagging in one of the videos. Fishers have long, active tails, which is the reason people have often called them fisher cats.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service may soon list the Pacific fisher as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. Endangered species protection for the Pacific fisher would protect the species and its old forest habitats in the Klamath-Siskiyou Mountains. The Siskiyou Mountains support one of the largest remaining populations of the Pacific fisher and should be listed as "critical habitat." Documentation of where fishers live, hunt and disperse is necessary to help this species recover from population decline. Citizens, scientists, and wildlife managers can all contribute to this information through monitoring, observation and research. Someday, hopefully, fishers will once again inhabit their original range on the West Coast of North America. From the wilds of the Klamath-Siskiyou, this species may come back from the brink of extinction. These videos speak for themselves — the Pacific fisher is a beautiful species!