Saturday, February 28, 2015

Nedsbar Public Hike: The Dakubetede Roadless Area




Local residents hiking the proposed new road into the Dakubetede Roadless Area through beautiful white oak woodland.
The Klamath Forest Alliance and Siskiyou Crest Blog led a public hike into units 26-20 and 27-20 of the Nedsbar Timber Sale today. Twenty-five residents from the Rogue and Applegate Valleys attended the hike into the Dakubetede Roadless Area, following the route of a proposed new road the BLM intends to build to facilitate logging in the Nedsbar Timber Sale. 

We began by hiking a decommissioned road to two units in the previously logged O'Lickety Timber Sale, units 57 and 54. These two units were drastically over-cut, which downgraded dispersal habitat for the northern spotted owl to habitat that is no longer suitable for any of the owl's habitat needs. 

Community members discussing the negative outcome of the recent O'Lickety Timber Sale.
The group then hiked the proposed new road through oak woodland in the Dakubetede Roadless Area to unit 26-20 of the proposed Nedsbar Timber Sale, then up the proposed road to unit 27-20. The proposed road leads to a beautiful grassy knob overlooking Lick Gulch.


Taking a break at the top of the proposed new road in a stand of old-growth black oak trees.

The group then hiked into Nedsbar Timber Sale units on the north slope, hiking stands of pine and fir, including areas with large, old trees. The community was in agreement that units 26-20 and 27-20, as well as the proposed new road that would be built to facilitate logging, should all be canceled and dropped from the sale.

Exploring a stand of old-growth trees in unit 27-20 of the Nedsbar Timber Sale.

The hike provided an opportunity for local residents to explore their backyard and see what is at stake in the Nedsbar Timber Sale. It also provided documentary filmmaker, Dean Hawn, an opportunity to see firsthand, the forests proposed for logging in the Nedsbar Timber Sale. Dean is filming a documentary called The Paper Trail, which will explore issues surrounding timber management in Oregon, including the Nedsbar Timber Sale. Today's hike allowed him to hear how community members feel about how their local public lands should be managed. 

Stay tuned for info on the next public hike scheduled for March 28, 2015. Also, don't miss the Nedsbar Timber Sale Presentation at the Applegate Community Grange on March 19th, starting at 6:30pm.

Dean Hawn filming community discussion for his documentary film titled The Paper Trail. The film will be exploring timber management in Oregon while highlighting the Nedsbar Timber Sale.





Sunday, February 22, 2015

Nedsbar Timber Sale Presentation March 19, 2015

Unit 25-23 in the Nedsbar Timber Sale
Presentation
Nedsbar Timber Sale
March 19, 2015 6:30pm
Applegate Community Grange
3901 Upper Applegate Road


The Nedsbar Timber Sale is a large proposed timber sale on BLM lands in the Little Applegate and Upper Applegate Valleys. The timber sale would include building new roads and logging large, old trees that will likely increase fire hazards adjacent to our homes and communities.

Please come to this free presentation and learn about what is happening on the BLM lands in your backyard and what you can do about it. The presentation will include a history of what has led to this timber sale and where the logging units are in relation to homes and properties within the valley. Beautiful photos of the Nedsbar Timber Sale units, views of the units from the valley floor, and photos of the greater region will be shown in a Powerpoint presentation. 

Speakers will present information about the impacts of the BLM's proposed timber sale and the benefits of the Community Alternative developed by local residents and environmentalists. Over 300 people have already signed on in support of the Community Alternative! Learn how you can sign on in support of the Community Alternative and get involved in grassroots efforts to protect the Applegate Valley from inappropriate BLM logging at the Nedsbar Timber Sale presentation.
 

This sums up the sentiment of many in the Applegate Valley.

The presentation is brought to you by the Klamath Forest Alliance and the Siskiyou Crest Blog. Please support our work; it can only continue with your support. Consider making a donation to the Klamath Forest Alliance and specify "Nedsbar" when making donations. You can donate online or by mail.


Klamath Forest Alliance
PO Box 21
Orleans, CA 95556

Friday, February 13, 2015

Nesbar Timber Sale Public Hike February, 28 2015



Unit 27-20 in the Nedsbar Timber Sale, the destination of the upcoming public hike sponsored by Klamath Forest Alliance and the Siskiyou Crest Blog.

The Klamath Forest Alliance and the Siskiyou Crest Blog will be organizing public hikes into the Nedsbar Timber Sale this spring. We plan to lead one hike per month into wild forests proposed for logging in the Nedsbar Timber Sale. 

The first hike will be on February 28, 2015. We will be meeting at 10:00AM at the intersection of Yale Creek Road and Little Applegate Road, near the long row of mailboxes. 


The hike will explore a wild portion of the Dakubetede Roadless Area; we will follow the route of a proposed new road the BLM intends to construct in lower Lick Gulch to facilitate logging in the Nedsbar Timber Sale. The proposed road winds through beautiful oak woodland across currently unroaded slopes to the ridgeline dividing Lick Gulch from the Little Applegate River.  The proposed road would lead to Nedsbar units 26-20 and 27-20, the destination for the day. The hike is off-trail and roughly 4 miles roundtrip. The terrain is variable; some areas can be steep. Bring a rain jacket, sturdy shoes, water, trekking poles if needed, and a lunch. To view my recent post about units 26-20 and 27-20 follow this link: Community Monitoring Project: Nedsbar Timber Sale units 26-20 and 27-20

Please stay tuned for a complete schedule of Nedsbar Timber Sale hikes this spring!

Units 27-20 and 26-20 are located in the Dakubetede Roadless Area on a beautiful ridgeline dividing the Little Applegate River and Lick Gulch. The route of the hike will follow the black line in this map, which is a proposed new road development.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Nedsbar Community Alternative

Nedsbar Community Monitoring Program volunteers in unit 28-10A on the western face of Bald Mountain. This unit, and numerous other proposed logging units in the Nedsbar Timber Sale that support old, fire-resilient forests, would be dropped in the Community Alternative.
Throughout the last few months, the Siskiyou Crest Blog, Klamath Forest Alliance, and local Applegate Valley non-profits and community organizations have organized the Nedsbar Community Monitoring Program (NCMP). The goal of this effort was to walk and evaluate all 93 units in the proposed Nedsbar Timber Sale, to not only educate the public, but also to inform the proposed Community Alternative to the Nedsbar Timber Sale. The Community Alternative has been developed by a committed group of local Applegate Valley residents —known as the Community Alternative Working Group—to address what many in the community see as the timber sale's numerous design flaws and unbalanced prescriptions. The Community Alternative is now being circulated throughout the local area for community members to sign on in support.

The Community Alternative has been created to address the critical fire protection needs of local residents, forest health concerns, and the habitat needs of local wildlife species, as well as generate positive results for the region's rural economy, including organic farms, vineyards, tourism, visitor amenities, real estate, and outdoor recreation. The local economy is driven by scenic values and the region's high quality of life.

The Community Alternative proposes to log and conduct fuel reduction treatments in strategic locations throughout the BLM's Nedsbar Planning Area. Treatments are proposed in forest habitats the have been degraded by logging, road development and fire suppression, rather than in roadless or intact forest ecosystems. The Community Alternative would maximize social and ecological needs, while producing a reasonable and sustainable supply of timber. 

The Community Alternative Working Group has released the document for public review. Please read the Community Alternative here.

If you would like to "sign" the Community Alternative please send an email to nedsbarca@gmail.com (as in Nedsbar Community Alternative) authorizing us to add your name. Be sure to include your full name and the town or area you live in. You may include your full address, or at least the road you live on, if you like. Or you can sign on here using Google Forms.
 
 Stay tuned for monthly public hikes planned into Nedsbar Timber Sale units and a public presentation sponsored by the Klamath Forest Alliance and the Siskiyou Crest Blog, sharing the findings of the Nedsbar Community Monitoring Program. See you there!

Below is a letter sent out yesterday by the Nedsbar Community Alternative Working Group.

_______________________________________________________________


February 4, 2015



Dear neighbors and friends in the Applegate and Rogue Valleys,

As many of you know, in 2014, the Medford BLM proposed a large timber sale for the Applegate Valley.  It covers much of the BLM lands south of the Little Applegate Road, up onto the ridgeline between Wagner and Anderson Butte, and on BLM land east of Upper Applegate Road.  At BLM’s request, a small group of concerned landowners have been working for several months to craft a Community Alternative (CA). The results of our efforts are in the attached "Community Alternative for the Proposed Nedsbar Timber Sale."

The CA reflects the drafting group's best efforts to fashion a timber management model that addresses the conditions and needs of our area while allowing for responsible timber harvest. Not surprisingly, advocating for forest management practices that improve forest health and reduce (or at least do not exacerbate) fire hazards in our dangerously dry forests is a very high priority that is reflected throughout the Community Alternative.

Now it's your turn to help us demonstrate broad support for this community-based proposal. We hope everyone receiving this email will want to "sign" the Community Alternative by granting us permission to list your name as a signatory. Our plan is to submit the CA with the list of signers early next week (Monday, February 9), so please let us know as soon as you can whether you will sign on.

As the BLM provides the requested documentation (i.e. critical habitat information) necessary to complete our finalized prescriptions and unit selection, we will be making our recommendations available to the community. We are currently under a BLM deadline to submit the body of our proposal containing the principles and guidelines that will inform our unit selection and prescription development.
If you would like to "sign" the Community Alternative please send an email to nedsbarca@gmail.com (as in Nedsbar Community Alternative) authorizing us to add your name. Be sure to include your full name and the town or area you live in. You may include your full address, or at least the road you live on, if you like.

Thanks so much for taking the time to read the Community Alternative. We hope you will join us in presenting a better alternative for the Nedsbar timber sale.  We apologize for duplicate postings; we want to reach as many people as possible. 


The Community Alternative Working Group:

Marion Hadden
Hope Robertson
Luke Ruediger
Peter Salant
Chant Thomas
Priscilla Weaver



Unit R-27 is a riparian thinning unit proposed to be logged and tractor yarded by the BLM within the Riparian Reserve of Ned's Gulch, a small stream feeding into the mainstem of the Applegate River in the Upper Applegate Valley. The Community Alternative would not propose any logging within Riparian Reserves and would reduce heavy logging in areas such as the Little Applegate River Canyon, to ensure sedimentation from logging operations does not impact our rivers, streams or fisheries. 
What we don't want! A photographic example of what the Community Alternative is trying to prevent. This is unit 70-1 in the BLM's recent O'Lickety Timber Sale located on the slopes above the Little Applegate River.

What we don't want! Another photographic example of what the Community Alternative is trying to prevent. This is also unit 70-1 in the BLM's recent O'Lickety Timber Sale located on the slopes above the Little Applegate River.


Summary of the Community Alternative



The driving force for the proposed Nedsbar Timber sale is the Swanson decision (“Court Order”) issued in 2013 by a federal judge in Washington D.C.  It requires the BLM to “sell or offer to sell” a specific number of board feet of timber within the BLM’s Medford and Roseburg districts. The Nedsbar Sale is one of a series of timber sales that must be offered if the Court Order is upheld on appeal. 
  
Our community supports a timber sale that will help meet a portion of the volume required by the Court Order.  However, the specific areas proposed for management at this time and the prescriptions must be appropriate for this project area. Primary considerations in the Little and Upper Applegate Valleys are: 1) a robust and growing agricultural and recreational economy, 2) the dry forestlands with their high fire hazards, 3) the steep topography, and 4) the special environmental characteristics of the Nedsbar area.

Goals of the Community Alternative:
a.  A level of combined economic, legal, environmental, social and scientific/technical viability that is equal to or greater than either BLM Alternative 3 (BLM A3) or BLM Alternative 4 (BLM A4).

b. Reduction of fire hazards and fuel loads and building long-term forest resilience.

c.  Production of a sustainable level of commercial forest products.

d. Protection and enhancement of the economic values of the affected geographic area, including burgeoning commercial agricultural activities, regional property values, tourism, and recreation.

e.  Enhancement of watershed health and of forest vigor.

f.  Preservation of the unique habitat connectivity corridor extending from the Rogue Valley into the Nedsbar Planning Area, up the Applegate River, the surrounding ridges to the Siskiyou Crest and well into California.

g. Collaboration among the BLM, local residents and other agencies to achieve a successful timber sale offering without legal challenges.

h. Achieving the goals of the Applegate AMA described in the Northwest Forest Plan and Medford BLM Resource Management Plan.


Stands like this one in unit 27-33 would be thinned in the Community Alternative. If implemented correctly, the Community Alternative would create positive ecological impacts, reduce fuel loads and facilitate timber production.

The Community Alternative would create a 20" upper diameter limit for tree removal. The tree in this photo is 20" in diameter, providing a visual of what size tree would be the largest removed under general prescription guidelines in the Community Alternative. 



Sunday, February 1, 2015

A hike through the Nedsbar Timber Sale and the Dakubetede Roadless Area.

Complex, fire-resilient, late-seral forest in unit 25-22 of the Nedsbar Timber Sale. The unit lies on a north-facing slope directly above the Little Applegate River.
Recently I hiked through a beautiful portion of the proposed Nedsbar Timber Sale. I began on a clear January morning, drove up Little Applegate Canyon and parked at the old bridge abutments where the Little Applegate Campground was once located. Below is an account of my hike:

I take off my shoes and ford the icy river, reaching a flat, forested river bar on the Little Applegate River's southern bank. Once across the river I find myself amongst large, old fir trees in spacious, closed-canopy stands. Reaching the slope I climb quickly toward unit 25-22 in the Nedsbar Timber Sale. Entering the unit, the stand is at first dense with understory fir and scattered overstory trees, but to the west the stand opens into fire-resilient groves of old pine and fir. It is clear that the unit needs fuel reduction and non-commercial thinning, but not the heavy canopy reduction proposed by the BLM. Located directly above a large area of late-seral (i.e. old) forest in the Little Applegate Canyon, this stand provides connectivity and high quality wildlife habitat to species such as the spotted owl and Pacific fisher.

Switching back through the unit I reach a low, oaky ridge dividing Owl Gulch from the Little Applegate River. Here the BLM proposes to build a small section of new road and two new helicopter landing pads to facilitate logging in Nedsbar units 25-24, 25-22, and 25-23. The ridge is pleasant and diverse; a patchwork of oak, pine, and mountain mahogany broken by isles of grass and chaparral.

Very near the proposed helicopter landing unit 25-23 reaches the ridgeline, then drops west into Owl Gulch. I follow unit 25-23 through mid- to late-seral (i.e. mature and old) stands of open-spaced fir with more pine on the upper third of the slope. The stand supports numerous large, old trees and very minimal fuel loads. Ground fuels are virtually non-existent and ladder fuels created by dense regeneration cannot be found. Quickly I drop into Owl Gulch, a small draw lined in bigleaf maple and Douglas fir. The canyon is steep and narrow.
Beautiful open forest in unit 25-23 of the Nedsbar Timber Sale. The stand is located directly above Owl Gulch in the Dakubetede Roadless Area. Unit 25-23 should be canceled.


In no time I climb the adjacent canyon wall and onto an east-facing slope in the Trillium Mountain portion of the Dakubetede Roadless Area. Shortly I enter unit 25-21A and 25-21B. The slopes are steep and patchy, covered in broken forests of Douglas fir, punctuated by small oak openings, pine stands, and madrone groves. The stands are mature, mid-seral Douglas fir with closed canopies and relatively dense, vertical structure. Staying within unit 25-21 I wind into a steep draw lined in moss and little tufts of bedrock. The forest slowly opens and groupings of larger, more dominant trees begin to add complexity to the stand. Slowly oak woodlands and grassy bald slopes close in from both sides and the long conifer stringer, identified by the BLM as unit 25-21, ends in a strip of pine/oak woodland facing east and offering broad, spectacular vistas across the upper Little Applegate drainage to Bald Mountain and Wagner Butte. Units from the Nedsbar Timber Sale are scattered across this spectacular viewshed and will potentially impact the region's scenic qualities.
The view east from the flank of Trillium Mountain, directly above unit 25-21A, a long conifer stringer rising from Owl Gulch into the Dakubetede Roadless Area. The U-shaped conifer stand at the center of the photo on the low, oaky ridge is unit 25-23. Two helicopter landings and a small section of new road is proposed in the oak woodland above unit 25-23. The mountain on the left in the background is Bald Mountain; many Nedsbar units are located across its southern face. To the right the highest peak is Wagner Butte, a 7,000' peak in the McDonald Peak Roadless Area on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.


Heading north I reach the ridgeline dropping east from Trillium Mountain and dividing the Little Applegate River from Owl Gulch. Dry fir and pine forest cloaks the ridgeline, then patches of white oak. To the north is a steep timbered slope: unit 25-20 of the Nedsbar Timber Sale. The unit is dense with Douglas fir, while the adjacent southeast-facing slope is piney and relatively open, supporting patches of white oak and mountain mahogany. Climbing steadily I reach the distinctive red flagging used to delineate proposed new road construction in the Nedsbar Timber Sale. A long-closed jeep road makes one long switchback across the eastern face of Trillium Mountain, and at the big, v-shaped switchback, the BLM has proposed a new road heading up the moderately steep ridgeline rising to the mountain's summit. The currently unroaded ridgeline is proposed by the BLM to be impacted with new road construction and the development of landings to facilitate logging both unit 25-21 (a helicopter unit) and 25-20 (a cable yarding unit). The flagged out "right of way" leads to a flat-topped knoll supporting pine and oak. This little knoll is proposed to be developed into a landing to deck and process logs. All vegetation would be cleared and the site leveled; the ridgeline that now feels wild and unmanaged would be accessible on maintained logging roads. Another landing is flagged out above.
The long, roadless ridge dropping east from Trillium Mountain in the Dakubetede Roadless Area. The area is proposed for new road construction and helicopter landing pad development. Watch the video below for an on-the-ground look at the proposed new road construction.


Shortly,  I can see the summit and the stout, old fir that overlooks the big grassy bald on the mountain's south-facing slope. From the summit of Trillium Mountain the Siskiyou Crest creates a long, high divide between the Applegate and Klamath Rivers. You can see the broad arc of mountains from Grayback Mountain above Williams, Oregon to Wagner Butte on the divide between the Little Applegate and the Ashland Watershed. This broad arc is the Applegate River Watershed and the rugged jumble of summits and ridges below — a region I call the Applegate Foothills. The region represents a relatively intact connectivity corridor that allows for the flow of diversity and genetic exchange between the flora and fauna in southern Oregon and northern California. The low-elevation corridor of the Applegate Foothills and the Nedsbar Planning area provides a vital link in the long chain of connectivity, tying together such varied regions as the fog drenched redwoods of northern California and the high desert habitat of the Great Basin. The region is a significant treasure trove of species sprawling across the foothills in a mosaic of grassland, oak woodland, chaparral, and dry conifer forests.

The wildness and diversity of the region is evident in the vista one sees from the summit of Trillium Mountain. One also sees dozens of Nedsbar Timber Sale units in the watersheds of Owl Gulch, Lick Gulch, Little Applegate River, Yale Creek, and Grouse Creek. When scanning the vista from Trillium Mountain, one fresh scar stands out in the foreground: a small square cut from the forested slope. The square cut from the slope is not a clear-cut, but it has that same hollow, industrial appearance. It is unit 64-1 of the recent BLM timber sale, known as the O’Lickety Timber Sale. It was thinned no doubt, but so drastically so that it no longer serves as nesting, roosting, and foraging habitat for the northern spotted owl.  The stand was intended to be maintained at this habitat level but was over-cut in the O'Lickety Timber Sale and has been "downgraded" to dispersal habitat. The BLM tells us the results of the Nedsbar Timber Sale will have a similar visual result. In fact, 63% of the proposed Nedsbar Timber Sale units would reduce canopy closure to 40%. The target for unit 64-1 was to maintain 60% canopy closure. It is now as low as 44%.

View west across the "Nedsbar Planning Area" from Trillium Mountain in the Dakubetede Roadless Area. Nedsbar Timber Sale units are proposed in much of the forested country in view. A new road is also proposed to be built within the Dakubetede Roadless Area on the grassy ridgeline below Trillium Mountain (at the center of this photo), to access roadless timber sale units that support complex, old forest on the mountain's north-face.


With this thought on my mind and the beauty of Trillium Mountain surrounding me, I turn my face from the sun and begin my walk back; down the long, wild ridge slated for new road construction and into a forest on the north slope of Trillium Mountain and Nedsbar Timber Sale unit 25-20. The forests proposed for logging are at first dense, dry stands of mature Douglas fir. This relatively even-aged stand has likely regenerated from wildfires in the late 1800s when miners and ranchers routinely burned to facilitate prospecting and to keep the brush back. The slopes are steep with the occasional brief hummock or bench — the depositional remains of historic landslides. I reach a narrow swath of oak and mountain mahogany that divides the forest into two separate stringers of forest. I cross the oak opening and gaze across the Little Applegate canyon to the broad, grassy ridges of the Dakubetede Roadless Area. 

Beyond the clearing is another, finer stand of timber. The forest in this section of unit 25-20 is old and complex, a remnant of what once covered north-facing slopes across the eastern Siskiyou Mountains. Such low-elevation forests have become increasingly rare and provide habitat for species such as the Pacific fisher, the flying squirrel and northern spotted owl. Massive old fir with deeply furrowed bark and gnarled old branches grow amongst understory groves of twisted, orange madrone trunks and a few scattered pine. The forest is complex, diverse and spectacular. If the BLM were to log this spectacular roadless mountainside, fuel hazards would increase due to the creation of logging slash and the increase in shrubby understory growth triggered by drastic canopy reduction. Important wildlife habitat would be degraded and roadless wildlands forever transformed into industrial timber management areas. The beautiful old-growth stand and unit 25-20 drop nearly to the Little Applegate River near its confluence with Owl Gulch. 
Diverse old forest in the eastern half of unit 25-20 of the Nedsbar Timber Sale. This unit is proposed to be treated with a "Selective thinning" prescription, reducing canopy closure to 40%. BLM prescriptions claim this sort of logging is necessary to reduce stand density, develop resilience to natural disturbance agents such as insects and fire, encourage spatial heterogeneity, and create diversified stand structure. The unit already supports these characteristics, including open fire- resilient conditions, a diverse, multi-layered canopy, patchy highly heterogeneous stand conditions, and large old trees, including significant populations of hardwoods. Unit 25-20 lies within the Dakubetede Roadless Area and is not in need of thinning to maintain healthy stand conditions. The unit should be canceled.
 I quickly reach the Little Applegate Canyon and am fortunate enough to find a large cedar log spanning the wide, cold river. Crossing the large cedar log I reach Little Applegate Road and walk back to my vehicle above the Little Applegate Trailhead, an access point for the Sterling Ditch Mine Trail. Winding upstream along the rushing river, I am struck by its beauty and the price we may pay if the Nedsbar Timber Sale is approved as it is currently proposed. The Dakubetede Roadless Area is an important and dramatically diverse region supporting wild, intact habitats and providing connectivity in the eastern Siskiyou Mountains. The Dakubetede Roadless Area should be protected to ensure these attributes are preserved for future generations. The Nedsbar Timber Sale, with it short sighted, profit-driven prescriptions, will degrade the area's wildland character, intact habitat, and scenic qualities. All Nedsbar Timber Sale units within roadless habitat should be canceled and the project's narrow, timber-driven focus should be broadened to include social and ecological values. Units 25-20, 25-21, 25-23, and 25-22 should be dropped as commercial timber sale units and allowed to continue providing the quality of habitat that currently exists in the Dakubetede Roadless Area.
A Google Earth image of my hike through the Dakubetede Roadless Area and units proposed for logging in the Nedsbar Timber Sale. Units are marked with orange boundaries and the route I hiked is shown in light blue. Trillium Mountain is labeled at the top left corner. The Dakubetede Roadless Area extends from the open slopes at the top of the photo to the face of Trillium Mountain. All units identified in this photo are located within the Dakubetede Roadless Area.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Nesdbar Timber Sale: Bald Mountain Units




Old-growth Douglas fir trees in unit 28-10C
This week a group of Little Applegate residents joined me for a day of monitoring of the Nedsbar Timber Sale. We drove up Little Applegate Road and up BLM logging roads to the western flank of Bald Mountain. Our goal was to survey units 28-10A, 28-10B, 28-10C, and 28-11B. The units sit in a cluster and border one another making a roughly 65-acre timber harvest area. Together they also support a contiguous swath of old, complex forest. Much of the 65 acres has never been logged — except a narrow strip along the road that was selectively logged many years ago — and the forest still functions as refugia for old-growth dependent species such as the Pacific fisher and northern spotted owl. In fact, the area lies within close proximity to an "owl core," designated to protect a documented spotted owl nesting site. Much of the area was identified in the Bald Lick Timber Sale — which also proposed to cut this area, but did not sell — as nesting, roosting, and foraging habitat (NRF) for the northern spotted owl. The area is more productive than most of the Nedsbar Timber Sale area and the stands support a significant population of old-growth trees. As shown in the photo below, these old-growth trees were often found in groupings or clusters, however, we also found found them in ancient old-growth groves. We took measurements of trees which ranged from 24"-56" in diameter.
Old-growth Douglas-fir trees in unit 28-10B, with trees marked in blue to be removed under the old Bald Lick Timber Sale.
Using an increment borer to determine tree age in unit 28-10A
Units 28-10A, 28-10B, and 28-10C are proposed to be selectively logged to 40% canopy coverage. Unit 28-11B would be logged using a "group selection" cut, meaning trees would be removed in groupings, creating logged-off forest openings. Trees would also be retained in groupings, leaving a broken, patchy canopy. Openings could comprise 25% of the stand, creating fragmentation of important late seral habitat. A small sliver of unit 28-11B near the road is proposed to be thinned to encourage ponderosa pine. Trees up to 48" were found to have been marked for removal in the old Bald Lick Timber Sale mark — which didn't sell and wasn't logged — and it is highly likely that large trees would "need" to be logged in the Nedsbar Timber Sale to reach the proposed 40% canopy coverage. This level of canopy reduction would downgrade spotted owl habitat from nesting, roosting, and foraging habitat to dispersal habitat, a lower quality habitat. This means that forest currently supporting the structural characteristics required to fulfill all portions of the owl's lifecycle will only function to allow owls to "disperse" through the stand in search of more suitable habitat. 
Unit 28-10B
The BLM's proposed prescriptions would also increase fire and fuel hazards in the Bald Mountain area by increasing solar infiltration and generating dense, young growth, creating ladder fuels and heavy fuel loads. This is particularly important for two reasons: First, the stand is surrounded on three sides by dense shrub fields of bitter cherry, hazel, serviceberry, and ocean spray. It is likely that this dense shrubby growth will encroach upon the forest stand after the canopy is reduced through logging. Second, because the BLM recently logged (Bald Lick/White Hat Timber Sale) or is proposing to log a large portion of the area in the Nedsbar Timber Sale, the combined effect would be a drastic increase in fuel loads and subsequent fire hazards in the area. 

 
The units identified in this post are circled in black. You can see the density of timber sale units in the immediate area, potentially creating a significant increase in fuel hazards due to canopy reduction, increased logging slash, shrubby in growth, and the logging of large, fire resistant trees.



Units units 28-10A, 28-10B, 28-10C, and 28-11B exist within a small 1,500 acre roadless area, supporting dry grasslands, oak woodlands, mixed conifer forests and hardwood stands. The area provides connectivity between the low elevation Dakubetede Roadless Area and the high elevation wildlands in the McDonald Peak Roadless Area.

The Bald Mountain area is also proposed as a portion of the Jack-Ash Trail, a non-motorized trail that would lead from Ashland to Jacksonville, Oregon. The Jack-Ash Trail would also provide access to the Sterling Mine Ditch Trail, a popular non-motorized trail system in the Little Applegate watershed. The Sterling Mine Ditch Trail was recently designated a State Scenic Trail by the state of Oregon. The trail is widely known and loved by residents of the Rogue and Applegate Valleys. Hikers, equestrians and mountain bikers are increasingly taking to this trail for its ecological, scenic, and recreational qualities. The Sterling Mine Ditch Trail and the proposed Jack-Ash Trail have been promoted by a local trail group called the Siskiyou Uplands Trail Association. The trail is being proposed to enhance the thriving tourist economies of both Ashland and Jacksonville.  An undesignated trail, that is proposed to serve as a portion of the Jack-Ash Trail, currently traverses Nedsbar unit 28-10B and would look out over units 28-10A, 28-10C, and 28-11B.
A photo of Bald Mountain from the Little Applegate River canyon. The proposed Jack-Ash Trail will traverse the ridgeline from Bald Mountain through the top of the Nedsbar Timber Sale units circled in red in the photo above.

Unit 28-10B
Those of us who hiked these beautiful stands left with one unanimous feeling: that units 28-10A, 28-10B, 28-10C, and 28-11B should not be logged. In fact, the units should be canceled from the Nedsbar Timber Sale. They are a remnant of complex, old forests that once covered nearly half the Little Applegate Watershed. With less than 15% remaining, it is time for the BLM to reform their timber program, stop logging old-growth trees and support rural communities by reducing fuels, providing recreational opportunities, contributing to the quality of life in rural areas, and learn to be good neighbors.
BLM graph from their 1993 document "Seral Stage Vegetation of the Little Applegate Valley."  Seral stage classes refer to stand age: early seral is younger forest, mid seral is middle-aged forest, and late seral is older forest.
Measuring trees in unit 28-10A
Measuring trees in unit 28-10B

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Nedsbar Public Hike: Units 28-22A, 28-22B, 28-22C


Local residents looking at canopy closure in Unit 28-22B, a regeneration harvest unit.
Today seventeen adults, two young children and one dog braved the cold of the north-facing slopes above the Little Applegate Valley to walk a forest just above private land at the junction of Yale Creek and the Little Applegate River. This forest contains old-growth and late seral forests, however, the BLM has included the area as part of the Nedsbar Timber Sale. The area we walked today included three units: 28-22A, a thinning unit, 28-22B, a regeneration unit and 28-22C, another thinning unit. All three units would be accessed by a proposed new road on the ridgeline above the area. The proposed new road construction and log landings would facilitate cable yarding from the ridge above. Log trucks would then haul the trees from this old-growth stand past many of these residents' homes.


Pointing out the fire resiliency and healthy stand structure of Unit 28-22B
All local residents on the hike agreed that this forested stand would be degraded by logging, which would increase fire hazards for the adjacent private land on Lick Gulch and Yale Creek Roads. The relationship that local people have to this beautiful backyard forest would be compromised by "structural retention regeneration harvest," leaving only 16-25 large trees per acre. Local residents love the forests of the Little Applegate Valley and want to see these older forests protected from irresponsible logging proposals like the Nedsbar Timber Sale. The conclusion was unanimous: units 28-22A, 28-22B, and 28-22C should be dropped from the Nedsbar Timber Sale.


Local residents hiking the fire adapted forest of Unit 28-22B.
More public hikes into Nedsbar Timber Sale units are planned for March, after the BLM releases the Environmental Analysis (EA) for the project. The hikes will coincide with the public comment period, offering residents a firsthand look at BLM logging proposals. Come hike these amazing public lands, advocate on their behalf and get to know them before it may be too late! 

To view my original post about units 28-22A, 28-22B and 28-22C click on the following link:
http://thesiskiyoucrest.blogspot.com/2014/12/nedsbar-timber-sale-regeneration-unit.html