KalmiopsisWild.org http://kalmiopsiswild.org Protecting the beautiful rivers, wild lands and legendary botanical diversity of Oregon's Kalmiopsis Country Mon, 27 Jul 2015 08:18:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Oregon Caves National Monument Preserve celebrated http://kalmiopsiswild.org/6429/oregon-caves-national-monument-preserve-celebrated/ http://kalmiopsiswild.org/6429/oregon-caves-national-monument-preserve-celebrated/#comments Mon, 27 Apr 2015 05:44:44 +0000 http://kalmiopsiswild.org/?p=6429 When Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve Superintendent Vicki Snitzler pointed to a ridge top marking the park’s new boundary at a ribbon cutting ceremony on April 10th, a crowd that included Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley and Congressman Peter DeFazio let out a satisfied cheer.  “This is a historic moment. It took all of […]

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When Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve Superintendent Vicki Snitzler pointed to a ridge top marking the park’s new boundary at a ribbon cutting ceremony on April 10th, a crowd that included Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley and Congressman Peter DeFazio let out a satisfied cheer. 

The headwaters of Lake Creek, the domestic water source for visitors at the Oregon Caves National Monument is now protected. The area, known as the Bigelow Lake Botanical area is a vast area of springs and meadows.
The expansion of the Oregon Caves National Monument protects the headwaters of Lake Creek, the sole source of drinking water for visitors of the Monument and the beautiful Bigelow Lakes Basin. Google Earth image.

“This is a historic moment. It took all of us working together and persevering to make this a reality,” Snitzler said. “I thank our legislators for their tenacity, and also, Superintendant Craig Ackerman.”

Currently serving as superintendent of Crater Lake National Park, Ackerman had previously led the operation at Oregon Caves and had long-championed the monument’s expansion.

“What a great example of collaboration between our politicians, community members and environmentalists,” Ackerman said. “This could not have happened without all the many elements coming together just the way they did.”

The effort to expand the 480 acre monument began in Teddy Roosevelt’s presidential administration, and after more than 100 years of political roadblocks, at the end of 2014, more than 4000 acres of U.S. Forest Service land was transferred to the National Park Service, to protect water resources at Oregon Caves, promote recreation in Southern Oregon, boost the local economy and improve forest health.

Left to Right - Senator Ron Wyden, Senator Jeff Merkley, Rep. Peter DeFazio and Owen Dwyer at the dedication of the Oregon Caves National Monument Preserve.
Senator Ron Wyden, Senator Jeff Merkley, Rep. Peter DeFazio and Owen Dwyer at the dedication of the Oregon Caves National Monument Preserve. Photo Illinois Valley News

The legislation that finally got the job done also designated the River Styx (that runs through the cave system) as “scenic”  – making it the first underground river to receive that distinction under the federal Wild and Scenic River program.

Snitzler also thanked local community organizer Greg Walter for his tireless contributions; and the Klamath Siskiyou Wildlands Center, which played a pivotal role in negotiating a positive outcome with the rancher who held leases for cattle grazing on the lands involved. She also acknowledged representatives of U.S. Forest Service for working to ensure the smooth transition of lands to the National Park Service (NPS).

Overlooking the headwaters of Lake Creek in the expanded protected area on the way to Mount Elijah.
Winter at the Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve and the view of the Bigelow Lakes Basin from Mt. Elijah, the highest point in the new preserve.

“The Oregon Caves is one of our state’s most iconic natural treasures and the monument’s expansion is a fantastic shot in the arm for Oregon’s tourism and recreation economy,” Wyden said. 

DeFazio, who spend 20 years on the effort, agreed, “this is a huge economic opportunity for Josephine County. With more recreational options, visitors will stay longer and explore more, which is why the expansion garnered so much local support.”

The new designation means travel magazines and other publications will feature Oregon Caves more prominently; and it’s hoped the bigger mark on maps will also help focus peoples’ attention on the area.

In a survey of USA Today readers, Oregon Caves was voted the third most popular national monument; and a nationwide poll conducted by Nature.org placed Oregon Caves in the top ten “best national monuments you never heard of.”

The National Wild and Scenic Illinois River at the Sixmile Creek Recreation site. Photo Barbara Ullian
The beautiful Wild and Scenic Illinois River is another Illinois Valley gem but it’s plagued by alcohol abuse and vandalism. The Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest is working to make it family safe. Photo Barbara Ullian

“Another way we’re helping brand the region is through a road tour: ‘The Circle of Discovery,’ that highlights the geological interconnectedness of seven national parks,” said Oregon Caves Media Specialist Christopher Willis. This symbolic circle  includes the Redwood National and State Park, Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve, Crater Lake National Park, Tule Lake Unit, Lava Beds National Monument, Lassen Volcanic National Park and Whiskeytown National Recreation Area.

“We need to tie into the regional tourism economy as a whole,” said Kenny Houck, Business Development Coordinator with the Illinois Valley Community Development Organization. “Oregon Caves is on the way between Crater Lake and the Redwoods – so our businesses, including craftsman, artisans and farmers, all stand to benefit from expanded marketing efforts as well.”

Others say solving the county’s law enforcement crises is also critical. Another world-class draw, the Wild and Scenic Illinois River corridor, has been plagued with litter and alcohol-fueled incidents that prompted more than a few tourists to cut their time in the area short and write negative reviews.

Wyden and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar recently asked the Interior and Commerce Departments to analyze the economic benefits of the nation’s outdoor economy to provide businesses and policymakers with the data they need to ensure the industry continues to thrive.

The 4,000 acre expansion of the tiny Oregon Caves National Monument will provide greater recreation opportunities. The view from Mt. Elijah across the Illinois Valley to wild Kalmiopsis Country.
The expansion of the Oregon Caves National Monument will provide greater recreation opportunities. The view from Mt. Elijah across the fog shrouded Illinois Valley to the wild Kalmiopsis Country in the west.

“It comes as no surprise to Oregonians that outdoor recreation can be as beneficial to local economies as it is to our way of life,” Wyden said. “Our outdoor natural resources are the envy of the world and American businesses have long partnered with and benefited from access to these areas. Over the next year it is expected that our National Parks will see a growth in visitors from across the country and around the world to celebrate the National Park Centennial in 2016.”

Improvements and restorations to Oregon Caves’ historic Chateau are ongoing and the Chalet Visitor Center now features new exhibits, including an impressive replica of the cave system. The Federal Highway Forest Roads program also helped spruce things up by installing new wooden signs along the route up to the cave.

Snitzler said expanded recreation opportunities include hunting and new ranger programs and she added that local outfitters could offer guided hikes up Mount Elijah. Hiking trails at various levels of difficulty abound at the monument, from short day hikes to overnight adventures. 

After the ribbon cutting ceremony, the three lawmakers, dressed in outdoor wear and hiking boots, enjoyed a hike and then a tour through the Cave.

This post is by Annette McGee Rasch. It was first published in the Illinois Valley News on April 15, 2015 under the headlines “Lawmakers and park officials praise collaborative effort to secure monument expansion.”

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Help permantely protect Cathedral Hills Park http://kalmiopsiswild.org/6082/help-protect-cathedral-hills-park/ http://kalmiopsiswild.org/6082/help-protect-cathedral-hills-park/#comments Sat, 03 Jan 2015 09:06:36 +0000 http://kalmiopsiswild.org/?p=6082 Cathedral Hills Park is a 560 acre woodland minutes from downtown Grants Pass. It’s to Grants Pass, what Central Park is to New City and a delight any time of year. Best of all, enjoying its numerous amenities won’t cost you a dime. It belongs to all of us. The hitch is, it’s Bureau of Land Management […]

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Cathedral Hills Park is a 560 acre woodland minutes from downtown Grants Pass. It’s to Grants Pass, what Central Park is to New City and a delight any time of year. Best of all, enjoying its numerous amenities won’t cost you a dime. It belongs to all of us. The hitch is, it’s Bureau of Land Management O&C land, caught up in the push to log our public forests. It’s also threatened by road development. Cathedral Hills needs friends willing to speak up for it like never before.

 Cathedral Hills is great for a walk or a hike year round.
Except for the area’s National Monuments, BLM’s Cathedral Hills Park is the highest used trail system in Southwest Oregon

Friends of Cathedral Hills Park

One notable friend is Senator Wyden. He wants to permanently protect this Oregon treasure as the Cathedral Hills Natural and Recreation Area. However, Greg Walden’s O&C Trust, Conservation and Jobs Act would essentially privatize parts of Cathedral Hills by turning them over to a trust to be managed for maximum timber production under the Oregon Forest Practices Act. And Representative Walden is vowing to pass his O&C legislation in 2015.

Land ownership map shows Cathedral Hills as a natural area and open space surrounded by developed private land. BLM lands are outlined in red. Josephine County lands, that are managed as part of the park, are in purple.

Help permanently protect Cathedral Hills Park

Under BLM’s current management plan Cathedral Hills Park appears to have no protection. Under some legislation about to be considered by Congress, parts of it could be logged and sprayed with herbicides and citizens are fighting a proposal to put a road through the Espey Road end of Cathedral Hills. So Friends of Cathedral Hills has started a petition to permanently protect Cathedral Hills Park.

Sign the petition to permanently protect Cathedral Hills Park

 Why Cathedral Hills is one of most popular trail systems in the region

Cathedral Hills is a treasure. Go for a walk or mountain bike ride. Equestrians are welcome. Dogs (on leash) especially love taking their owners for walks at Cathedral Hills. It’s a great outdoor classroom for kids too. There’s a trail for every level of fitness.

Learn more about Cathedral Hills and get a a map at BLM’s webpage. To make getting there easy, BLM has developed three entrances to Cathedral Hills—Walker Road, Espey Road and SkyCrest. Espey Road has rest rooms and places for horse trailers to park. Read Zach Urness, “Cathedral Hills far better than treadmills” and become a Friend of Cathedral Hills Park.

Cathedral Hills is a favorite of equestrians. These happy riders found miles of good trail close to home on a cold New Years Day.
Cathedral Hills is a favorite of equestrians. These happy riders found miles of good trail close to home on a cold New Years Day.

In the spring, a show of woodland wildflowers draws nature lovers but the rains of fall brings out great color and a wide array of mushrooms. The rich diversity of fungus, moss and lichen is fascinating.

Two dogs taking their owners for a walk in Cathedral Hills on a perfect fall day after school.
Dogs love taking their owners for walks in Cathedral Hills. Despite its high use and popularity, the tiny 500 acre trail system has no protection. Senator Wyden wants to change that.

The threats facing Cathedral Hills

Cathedral Hills is under threat from several directions. Under Congressman Greg Walden’s O&C Trust, Conservation and Jobs Act, two parts of Cathedral Hills would be managed as private industrial timber land. The legislation, as part of H.R. 1526, has passed the House of Representatives twice. With the Republicans now in control of Congress, Representative Walden has vowed to pass the O&C Trust Act.

The Cathedral Hills Espy Road Trailhead on a busy Sunday in January. Road development would turn the peaceful trailhead into a busy thoroughfare. Friends of Cathedral Hills Photo.
The Cathedral Hills Espy Road Trailhead on a busy Sunday in January. Road development would turn the peaceful trailhead into a busy thoroughfare. Friends of Cathedral Hills Photo.

More than a hundred friends of Cathedral Hills Park recently packed the Grants Pass City Council Chambers to oppose a road that would wreck havoc with the Espy Road end of the park and surrounding homes. They were victorious but the victory could be temporary.

Senator Wyden wants to protect Cathedral Hills

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), who manages Cathedral Hills says it’s the highest used trail system in the region—with the exception of the National Monuments. Senator Wyden has proposed permeant protection for Cathedral Hills as a Natural and Recreation Area in his O&C Land Grant Act of 2014. However, the bill failed to make it through Congress in 2014. Stay tuned for what will happen in 2015 and let the Senator know you care about Cathedral Hills.

The BLM's fuels reduction in  Cathedral Hill selected for oak and pine, keeping the overstory intact. Snags were left away from the trails for the pileated and other woodpeckers.
BLM’s fuel reduction project for Cathedral Hills made for good neighbors. It maintained the overstory canopy where it existed and preserved oak and pine.

From no-man’s land to treasured land

Cathedral Hills was once a forgotten piece of BLM land—gullied with motorcycles hill climbs, covered with impenetrable brush thickets and used to store explosives. Trails have replaced gullies, BLM’s recent fuel reduction project is a model for the wildland urban interface and all that’s left of the  powder houses where the explosives were stored are foundations which are going to ground.

Cathedral Hills is popular trail system, used by thousands of residents, but its also an important nature reserve. Pictured old growth manzanita, California ground cone and indian warriors. Friends of Cathedral Hills.
Cathedral Hills is popular trail system, used by thousands of residents, but its also an important nature reserve. Pictured old growth manzanita, California ground cone and indian warriors. Friends of Cathedral Hills.

Over the years Cathedral Hills has become a beloved part of the Rogue Valley, contributing to the physical and psychological health of area citizens. It’s gone from where no one went to where everyone goes. It’s irreplaceable.

The trail system in Cathedral Hills is well marked. It's shared by mountain bikers, equestrians, joggers and hikers.
The main trail system in Cathedral Hills is well marked and maintained. It’s shared by mountain bikers, equestrians, joggers and hikers. There’s trails for every level of fitness.

Champion trees and paying it forward

This oak, pine, madrone woodland and remanent valley floor forest, is also home to two Oregon Champion Trees—recently discovered by Paul Brown, friends of Cathedral Hills volunteer and observant hiker. Like many things in Cathedral Hills, the champion trees and not what you’d expect. One is a gnarly old knobcone pine and the other a twisted white leaf manzanita.  Like Cathedral Hills Park, they’re icons for why our public lands are so important and will only grow more important with time. Our public lands are part of the public trust, to be cared for, cherished and passed on to future generations.

Third grade class restoration project at Cathedral Hills.
Paying it forward. A third grade class is learning about nature, getting good exercise and restoring damaged ground in Cathedral Hills.

What you can do

Please thank Senator Wyden for championing the Cathedral Hills Natural and Recreation Area. Click here to go to Senator Wyden’s contact page. Let him know how you use and enjoy Cathedral Hills and other Western Oregon BLM lands like the Illinois Valley Salmon and Botanical Area and the Rogue National Recreation Area.

Then write to Representative Walden. Click here to go to Representative Walden’s contact page. Let him know how important Cathedral Hills and other Western Oregon BLM lands are to you and how you use them, And don’t forget to sign Friends of Cathedral Hills petition to permanently protect the Park.

Sign the petition to permanently protect Cathedral Hills Park

This little remanent patch of valley bottom ponderosa pine forest in Cathedral Hills enhances livability of the adjacent homes and gives property owners a 500 acre back yard.
This little remnant patch of valley bottom ponderosa pine forest in Cathedral Hills is a treasure. It enhances the livability of the adjacent homes and gives property owners a 500 acre backyard and children room to roam.

Learn more about Cathedral Hills:

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Senator Wyden proposes Illinois Valley Salmon and Botanical Area http://kalmiopsiswild.org/5001/senator-wyden-proposes-illinois-valley-salmon-and-botanical-area/ http://kalmiopsiswild.org/5001/senator-wyden-proposes-illinois-valley-salmon-and-botanical-area/#comments Wed, 12 Nov 2014 00:21:35 +0000 http://kalmiopsiswild.org/?p=5001 Described as a little biological gem, the proposed Illinois Valley Salmon and Botanical Area is comprised of about 15,000 acres of public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management on the west side of the Illinois Valley.  The special management area is one of the conservation measures in Senator Ron Wyden’s O&C Land Grant Act […]

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Described as a little biological gem, the proposed Illinois Valley Salmon and Botanical Area is comprised of about 15,000 acres of public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management on the west side of the Illinois Valley.  The special management area is one of the conservation measures in Senator Ron Wyden’s O&C Land Grant Act of 2014 (S. 1784).

Wild and Scenic Illinois RiverWild chinook salmon jumping Little Falls on the Wild and Scenic Illinois River. The Illinois River is one of the most important salmon strongholds on the West Coast.

The bill is currently scheduled for markup on Thursday, November 13th before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, along with 19 other bills. Click here for the Committee page. The meeting begins at 3:00 p.m. eastern time and can be watch live.

While small in size, the Illinois Valley Salmon and Botanical Area is big on rare plants and wildlife rich woodlands. It includes important low gradient reaches of rivers and streams that provide critical spawning and rearing habitat for Illinois Basin wild coho and chinook salmon.

The Eight Dollar Mountain Botanical Area and Area of Critical Environmental Concern are not protected from mining (Barbara Ullian photo) The BLM Eight Dollar Mountain interpretive boardwalk is at the heart of the Illinois Valley Salmon and Botanical Acres. Photo Barbara Ullian.

The Illinois Valley Salmon and Botanical Area is adjacent to a much larger—approximately 40 mile long—band of National Forest land on the west side of southwest Oregon’s Illinois River Valley. Together the National Forest and BLM lands are host to one of the highest concentrations of rare and endemic plants in North America and the highest in Oregon.

The Illinois Valley Salmon and Botanical Area follows the boundaries of the Medford District Bureau of Land Management’s Illinois Valley Botanical Emphasis Area. See map below. The Illinois Valley Salmon and Botanical Special Management Area consists of existing, potential and proposed Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACECs) and other botanically important BLM lands.

The BLM Rough and Ready Creek Area of Critical Environmental Concern wheelchair accessible trail is another special feature of the Illinois Valley Salmon and Botanical Area. Photo Bob Ziller. 

In keeping with the area’s high scientific values and globally rare plant populations, the purpose language of the Illinois Valley Salmon and Botanical Area in the 2013 version of the bill was:

“to provide for the protection, preservation, and enhancement of botanical, nonmotorized recreational, ecological, scenic, cultural, watershed, and fish and wildlife values.”

The new purpose language in the 2014 Act applies to all special management areas in the bill and is not as specific to the unique values and sensitive nature of the botanical area.

The result of OHV mudding party at one of the Illinois Valley’s botanical gems. Motorized travel needs to be prohibited in the Salmon and Botanical Area. Photo Barbara Ullian.

Under BLM’s current management regime these biologically rich federal public lands are open to mining. Off road vehicles are destroying sensitive rare plant habitat unless it’s fenced. Section 113 of S. 1784 would withdraw the BLM lands in the Illinois Valley Salmon and Botanical Area from mining and close them to destructive off road travel.

The Illinois Valley Salmon and Botanical Area would be withdrawn from mining like the Nickel Mountain Mine above Riddle, Oregon. Google earth image.

Withdrawal of the area from the 1872 Mining Law, is subject to valid existing rights. This means if existing mining claims are valid under the law, the right to mine will be preserved. While imperfect, currently withdrawal is the best available way to protect the public’s interest in the special places of the Illinois Valley Salmon and Botanical Area. These include the French Flat ACEC, where there’s a proposal under analysis to mine part of the area.

Rough and Ready Creek as it flows through the Illinois Valley Salmon and Botanical Area. The creek is known for its exceptional water quality. Photo Barbara Ullian

Another is the Rough and Ready Creek ACEC. It’s subject to a proposal (submitted to the Forest Service in 2011) to construct a nickel smelter. The smelter facility is part of the RNR Project, a proposed nickel mine on National Forest and BLM lands.

The illusive Pacific fisher is an rare old growth forest related species found at the proposed Waldo-Takilma ACEC in the Illinois Valley Salmon and Botanical Area.

With a population of only around 10,000 the Illinois Valley’s future lies in preserving the river rich, biologically diverse federal public lands that are such an important part of its beauty and natural heritage. The Illinois Valley Salmon and Botanical Area Senator Wyden is proposing will help protect some of the area’s treasured federal public lands.

The Illinois Valley is one of the most biologically diverse small river valleys in the nation. Photo Barbara Ullian.

The Valley is the gateway to the Oregon Caves National Monument (with its proposed expansion), the beautiful National Wild and Scenic Illinois River and three nearby Wilderness Areas (the Kalmiopsis, Red Buttes and Siskiyou). Its proximity to the Smith River National RecreationRedwoods National Park and the Wild Rivers Coast of Oregon and California are other pluses.

 

Click here or on map to download larger map of the proposed Illinois Valley Salmon and Botanical Area from Senator Wyden’s webpage.

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Cathedral Hills Park is threatened. You can help. http://kalmiopsiswild.org/5496/cathedral-hills-park-is-threatend-you-can-help/ http://kalmiopsiswild.org/5496/cathedral-hills-park-is-threatend-you-can-help/#comments Tue, 19 Aug 2014 06:45:59 +0000 http://kalmiopsiswild.org/?p=5496 Cathedral Hills is to Grants Pass as Central Park is to New York—or close to it. Only no one would think of constructing a 60 foot wide road through Central Park or managing it for timber production. That’s what’s facing our Cathedral Hills Park. The Cathedral Hills Espey Road Trailhead on a busy Sunday in […]

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Cathedral Hills is to Grants Pass as Central Park is to New York—or close to it. Only no one would think of constructing a 60 foot wide road through Central Park or managing it for timber production. That’s what’s facing our Cathedral Hills Park.

The Cathedral Hills Espy Road Trailhead on a busy Sunday in January. Road development would turn the peaceful trailhead into a busy thoroughfare. Friends of Cathedral Hills Photo.

The Cathedral Hills Espey Road Trailhead on a busy Sunday in January. Road development would turn the peaceful trailhead into a busy thoroughfare. Friends of Cathedral Hills photo.

Threat No. 1 – Road construction in Cathedral Hills Park

Your attendance and voice are urgently needed on:

Wednesday, August 20 at 6:00 p.m. at the Grants Pass City Council Chambers – 101 N. E. “A” Street.

A property developer wants to put a road through a lovely segment of Cathedral Hills Park. The planning commission, in a 7-0 vote, said “no” to the needed variance. According to the Grants Pass Courier:

Major concerns were congestion on the narrow road into the trailhead, potential danger to children, pedestrians and horses using the road, and the likelihood that road construction and increased traffic will harm wildlife and the habitat. MacMillan said three of the required criteria for a variance to extend the road were not met: The proposed variance must be the best alternative; the proposal will not pose a safety hazard; and all adverse impacts shall be avoided where possible and mitigated wherever practical.

The private property has other access.

With the Espy Road Trailhead parking full, cars and horse trailer park along the roadway. The proposed development create even more traffic. Friends of Cathedral Hills Photo.

With the Espy Road Trailhead parking full, cars and horse trailer park along the roadway. The proposed development would create even more traffic. Friends of Cathedral Hills photo.

The developers have appealed the unanimous “no” vote. Please come to the hearing and speak for Cathedral Hills on Wednesday, August 20th at 6:00 p.m.  For more information go to Friends of Cathedral Hills on Facebook. Be a friend to your park. 

Land ownership map shows why the Central Park analogy fits Cathedral Hill. The BLM parklands are outlined in red.

Land ownership map shows why the Central Park analogy fits Cathedral Hill. The BLM Cathedral Hills parklands are outlined in red.

Threat No. 2 – Timber production (logging) and O&C Land Grant Act of 2014

Cathedral Hills is a 500 plus acre parkland managed by the Bureau of Land Management. It’s surrounded by the Grants Pass urban growth boundary, the Grants Pass Golf Club, subdivisions and residential properties. The taxpayers recently funded a major fuels reduction project and trail and trailhead improvements.

So how could Senator Wyden’s O&C Land Grant Act of 2014 allocate this haven for hikers and mountain bikers for timber production as a Dry Forestry Emphasis Area?

From BLM's Cathedral Hills Recreation Opportunity Guide.

Click image for BLM information on Cathedral Hills and to download recreation opportunity guide.

Cathedral Hills is a recreation area with three developed trailheads and miles of trails. It’s used by thousands of people of all ages. Many of those will likely live longer healthier lives because Cathedral Hills exists. It would be insane to manage this much loved park for timber production.

The insanity

The latest maps for the O&C Act of 2014 show Cathedral Hills as a “Dry Forestry Emphasis Area.” Click here to download the map from Senator Wyden’s website. Section 10 of the Act defines Dry Forestry Emphasis Areas as:

Implements principles of ecological forestry to incorporate sustainable forest management practices and increase the timber produced from these areas while also reducing the likelihood of catastrophic forest fire.

Click here to go the the section by section analysis of the bill.

Excerpted from the O&C Land Grant Act of 2014 Moist and Dry Forestry Emphasis Area Map dated July 31, 2014

 

Map is excerpted from the O&C Land Grant Act of 2014 Moist and Dry Forestry Emphasis Area Map dated July 31, 2014. Brown = Dry Forestry Emphasis Area.

Really big trees

Cathedral Hills does have some really big trees, only they’re not likely to produce much timber volume when logged. Former Park Ranger, Paul Brown, discovered the Oregon State Champion knobcone pine and whiteleaf manzanita in Cathedral Hills. Read about the discovery of the Oregon State Champion trees in the Grants Pass Courier and watch the video.

Cathedral Hills is popular trail system, used by thousands of residents, but its also an important nature reserve. Pictured old growth manzanita, California ground cone and indian warriors. Friends of Cathedral Hills.

Cathedral Hills is popular trail system, used by thousands of residents, but its also an important nature reserve. Pictured old growth manzanita, California ground cone and indian warriors. Friends of Cathedral Hills.

The State Champion knobcone turned out to be the National Champion knobcone. Cathedral Hills is a magical place.

Paul Brown, like many of us, walked past what's turned out to be the largest knobcone pine in the nation. Photo from online video.

Former Park Ranger, Paul Brown, walked past this old gnarly pine in Cathedral Hills many times without realizing it’s the largest knobcone pine in the nation. He’s not the only one. Watch the video.

Are we so desperate for a little revenue that we have to log our heritage lands? We’ve got a better idea. Permanent protection.

The Cathedral Hills Recreation and Natural Area

Right now Cathedral Hills has little or no protection. Senator Wyden’s O&C legislation would have it managed for timber production. Let’s look at this as an opportunity to achieve permanent protection for Cathedral Hills. Write or call Senator Wyden’ and ask that he establish the Cathedral Hills Recreation and Natural Area on lands now managed by BLM as the Cathedral Hills Trail System.

The Senator says he will listen:

Keith Chu, a spokesman for Wyden, dismissed suggestions this week that the senator won’t consider additional changes to his O&C timber bill when lawmakers return to Washington, D.C., in September. “We aren’t sticking the bill in a safe and not talking to anyone” about other possible changes, he said. “We will continue to work with people.”

Eugene Register Guard, August 19, 2014

The Cathedral Hills trail system winds through a diverse oak, pine woodlands. Friends of Cathedral Hills.

The Cathedral Hills trail system winds through a diverse oak, pine woodlands. Friends of Cathedral Hills.

Don’t let Senator Wyden hear only silence. Make a noise. Ask him to: “Permanently protect Cathedral Hills Park through the establishment of the Cathedral Hills Recreation and Natural Area”. Click here for Senator Wyden’s contact information.

Birds and birders love Cathedral Hills Park and its great habitat for native pollinators.

Birds and birders love Cathedral Hills Park to and its great habitat for native pollinators. © Barbara Ullian

Cathedral Hills—a tiny priceless gem

Cathedral Hills will only get more valuable in time as a recreation and natural area. It’s used by hikers, runners, bikers, birders, equestrians and wildflower enthusiasts. You will find no trespassing signs there and its free for all. Be a Friend of Cathedral Hills.

Learn about Cathedral Hills

Lean about the O&C Land Grant Act of 2014

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Grants Pass Courier endorses Oregon Caves expansion http://kalmiopsiswild.org/5175/grants-pass-courier-endorses-oregon-caves-expansion/ http://kalmiopsiswild.org/5175/grants-pass-courier-endorses-oregon-caves-expansion/#comments Fri, 27 Jun 2014 02:46:04 +0000 http://kalmiopsiswild.org/?p=5175 In a June 25th editorial, the Grants Pass Courier endorsed the Oregon Caves expansion. Calling the National Monument the “crown jewel of Josephine County,” the  Courier editorial says it’s time to act on legislation that’s been floating around Congress for six years. Cave Junction businessman, Greg Walter, said this morning that the list of business supporters […]

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In a June 25th editorial, the Grants Pass Courier endorsed the Oregon Caves expansion. Calling the National Monument the “crown jewel of Josephine County,” the  Courier editorial says it’s time to act on legislation that’s been floating around Congress for six years.

Craggy Mt. as seen from Mt. Elijah (Oregon Caves Revitalization Act) (Barbara Ullian photo).
Sunrise from Mt. Elijah in the Oregon Caves expansion area (Oregon Caves Revitalization Act)

Cave Junction businessman, Greg Walter, said this morning that the list of business supporters endorsing the Oregon Caves Revitalization Act (S. 354 and H.R. 2489) has grown from 40 to 50. Please write to the Josephine County Commissioners and ask that they endorse the Oregon Cave National Monument expansion. Contact information is on the Josephine County Board of Commissioners website.

The Courier also notes that earlier concerns had been addressed in the current legislation and that the expansion will provide greater opportunities for Monument visitors while protecting the Bigelow Lake Botanical Area, another natural treasure:

The latest expansion proposal would add about 4,000 acres to the monument, making it more attractive to hikers and other tourists. It would also bring Bigelow Lakes into the monument, offering protection for yet another natural wonder in our region.

The paper concludes:

The expansion will safeguard the national monument, which is both an important part of our heritage as well as a tourist attraction. It’s time for our congressional delegation to move this proposal to the front burner.

See also – Expanding protection for Oregon Caves National Monument

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Expanding protection for Oregon Caves National Monument http://kalmiopsiswild.org/5093/expanding-protection-for-oregon-caves-national-monument/ http://kalmiopsiswild.org/5093/expanding-protection-for-oregon-caves-national-monument/#comments Thu, 19 Jun 2014 14:16:03 +0000 http://kalmiopsiswild.org/?p=5093 Like most places, we have our prophets of doom in Southwest Oregon. They oppose just about everything—even the most modest proposals, such as a bill expanding protection for the Oregon Caves National Monument. The legislation will help assure clean safe drinking water for the approximately 80,000 visitors that come each year to the tiny, 488 acre, national […]

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Like most places, we have our prophets of doom in Southwest Oregon. They oppose just about everything—even the most modest proposals, such as a bill expanding protection for the Oregon Caves National Monument. The legislation will help assure clean safe drinking water for the approximately 80,000 visitors that come each year to the tiny, 488 acre, national park unit. It will increase recreation opportunities and it allows hunting.

Bigelow Lake and the numerous springs around it are the headwaters of the Oregon Caves National drinking water source. Expanding protection for the Oregon Caves National Monument will protect Bigelow Lakes.
Bigelow Lake and the numerous springs around it are the headwaters of the Oregon Caves drinking water source. Expanding protection for the Oregon Caves National Monument will protect Bigelow Lakes.

Expanding protection for the Oregon Caves National Monument will even help protect the drinking water of Cave Junction and Kerby because the expanded protected area is in watershed of the East Fork Illinois River.

Expanding protection for the Oregon Caves National Monument will expand recreation opportunities
Expanding protection for the Oregon Caves National Monument will increase recreation opportunities. A cool rest stop at one of the many springs on the way to Mount Elijah.

But if you’re a doomsayer, it doesn’t matter if something is good. They just gotta complain. One such prophet of doom recently wrote this on the Illinois Valley/Cave Junction Facebook page:

this expansion of the caves monument is going to take away a lot of minors [sic] right to mine their claims … The reason they use to make this larger is just an excuse to grab more land and minerals…

He’s wrong about the mining rights and the land grab.

Anyone with an actual right to mine—under the 1872 Mining Law—will not have that right taken away by Oregon Caves Revitalization Act (H.R. 2489 and S. 354). The mining withdrawal is  “subject to valid existing rights.” In other words, if a miner has a “valid existing right” to mine, it cannot be taken away.

Overlooking the headwaters of Lake Creek in the expanded protected area on the way to Mount Elijah.
Overlooking the headwaters of Lake Creek in the proposed expanded protected area of the Oregon Caves National Monument on the way to Mount Elijah.

Second, protecting public lands for all Americans is NOT a land grab. Mining on National Forest and BLM lands, on the other hand, is. Miners deface and destroy lands belonging to all of us. Any minerals they find are “theirs,” but the clean up cost is usually “ours.” Adding insult to injury, miners pay absolutely no royalties for the valuable minerals they gouge from our public lands.  Now that’s a land and mineral grab of epic proportions.

Let’s also look at the economics. According to a National Park Service study, in 2011 the Oregon Caves National Monument attracted 76,194 visitors who spend $3.85 million in local communities. The spending supported 59 jobs in the local area. Click here to read the OPB story.

A bank of wild rhododendron at the Cave Creek Campground in the proposed expanded protect area of the Oregon Caves National Monument.
A bank of wild rhododendron at the Cave Creek Campground in the proposed expanded protection area of the Oregon Caves National Monument.

The contribution to the local economy by hardrock mining is a different story. According to USGS’s most recent mineral report for Oregon, there is essentially no measurable hardrock mineral production in the State of Oregon. See the 2009 Oregon Minerals Yearbook (Advanced Release). In Josephine and Curry Counties, the only measurable minerals produced are sand and gravel and crushed stone. These are what’s called common variety minerals. They don’t come with any special 1872 Mining Law rights.

Water lilies on Bigelow Lake  have the look of a Monet Painting. Preserving this beauty for all to enjoy is not a land grab.
Water lilies on Bigelow Lake have the look of a Monet Painting. Preserving this beauty for all to enjoy is not a land grab.

Expanding protection for the Oregon Caves National Monument will include permanently protecting Mount Elijah and the Bigelow Lake Botanical Area. These are treasures any national park unit would welcome. Please speak out in support of the Oregon Cave Revitalization Act. Write letters to the editor and to your county commissioners.

Many years ago a good friend and I—with her twin daughters—spent the night on the top of Mount Elijah during the height of the Perseid Meteor Shower. There was a 360 degree view of the unpolluted dark night sky. Warm in our sleeping bags, we drank hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps and oohed and awed at the spectacle overhead, till “in the peace of wild things” we fell asleep on our mountain top. Priceless.

Read more about expanding protection for Oregon Caves National Monument

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Kalmiopsis Wilderness Emily Camp inholding for sale again http://kalmiopsiswild.org/3167/kalmiopsis-wilderness-emily-camp-inholding-for-sale-again/ http://kalmiopsiswild.org/3167/kalmiopsis-wilderness-emily-camp-inholding-for-sale-again/#comments Tue, 20 May 2014 12:36:50 +0000 http://kalmiopsiswild.org/?p=3167 This post is updated from May 2013. Then Emily Camp (a private inholding in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness) was listed for sale by a realtor. The owner now has it listed on craigslist. See the listing here. The price is the same. Below is a description of the 45 acre property and the travesty of how […]

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This post is updated from May 2013. Then Emily Camp (a private inholding in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness) was listed for sale by a realtor. The owner now has it listed on craigslist. See the listing here. The price is the same. Below is a description of the 45 acre property and the travesty of how federal public land in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness became private land for $2.50 per acre under the 1872 Mining Law.

The Emily Camp area had been congressionally protected Wilderness for 24 years when the 1872 Mining Law’s patenting provision was opportunely used to turn three federal mining claims (about 60 acres in the heart of the  Kalmiopsis Wilderness) into private property. The year was 1988, The inholding is now being advertised for sale for $599,000.

The previous owner (the patenter) paid little more per acre than the cost of a latte. In return, he was granted title to 45.1 acres of National Forest Wilderness, plus title to the mineral estate on 14.88 acres—and the river that runs through it all. But the travesty didn’t stop with the transfer of land’s ownership—from public to private—for $2.50 per acre.

Forest Service map showing area of patented Little Chetco claims—now known as Emily Camp—including the 14.88 acres where the federal government retained ownership of the surface estate.
Forest Service map showing area of patented Little Chetco claims—now known as Emily Camp—including the 14.88 acres where the federal government retained ownership of the surface estate.

When a courageous District Ranger tried to bring two decades of non-conforming use in the West Coast’s most rugged Wilderness under control, there was defiance, not compliance.  Not proficient in map reading, the Josephine County Commissioners were convinced by the owner of the now private property to pass a resolution saying the county owned the old user created mining track that ran through the Kalmiopsis Wilderness and down to the Little Chetco River. The intent of the road-grab was to open the Kalmiopsis to unrestricted public motorized travel, despite its Wilderness designation. However, the resolution didn’t have the desired effect because the route turned out to be entirely in Curry County.

Other schemes came and went—a resort, a mine and logging the inholding. However, one fact kept getting in the way. The property was surrounded by Wilderness and the Wilderness predated the private property.

The watershed of the Little Chetco River in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness. The red dot is approximate location of Emily Camp.
Little Chetco River Watershed in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness. The red dot shows approximate location of Emily Camp and its isolation, with no road access and iffy trail access. Google Earth Image.

In the late 1990’s/early 2000’s, there was a bit of peace. The attacks on the Wilderness became a thing of the past and a deal between the Forest Service and the original owner to purchase the property was almost completed. In anticipation of the purchase agreement going through and a show of good will, the owner relinquished his rights to 5 mining claims he held in the same area of Wilderness on the little Chetco.

Then the Biscuit Fire burned almost every live tree in the area. The Forest Service reneged on the agreement to purchase the inholding at the agreed on price. Soon a new owner arrived on the scene and tried to up the anti with his own brand of shenanigans.  See the Oregonian March 13, 2010. But this is all history, the big question is what to do now?

Emily Camp in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness. USDA FS Photo
The 2002 Biscuit Fire burned hot across this part of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness and the Little Chetco River Watershed. The Emily Camp inholding is clearly visible. (Forest Service photo).

The Emily Camp inholding is currently only accesible by helicopter or an arduous hike in on foot and an even harder one out. The absence of overland motorized access is not likely to change given narrow a court ruling specific  to the area and when the inholding was established. Dead fire-killed trees continue to fall across the trails, which are only maintained by volunteers.

While the 45 acres is surrounded by 179,000 acres of Wilderness, commercial activities are not allowed in Wilderness Areas, so the lands adjacent to the inholding can only be used for recreation. Activities like commercially guided trips or other similar activities requires a special use permit from the Forest Serive and while the Little Chetco River runs through the property, we could find no water rights for the inholding.

Those interested in purchasing the Emily Camp inholding should examine access restrictions, court records, zoning. water rights and Wilderness rules and regulations. Hopefully, a buyer will come forward that will return the area to the Wilderness.

Here’s a few things to take into consideration:

  • The property is technically 45.1 acres, not 60 as stated originally in the listing, and there’s two public trail rights of way running through the inholding.

Explanation: The 1988 patent granting private ownership to the Little Chetco mining claims (now known as Emily Camp) was for 45.1 acres with surface and mineral estate. On the 14.88 acre balance, the federal government still owns the surface estate. In essence this 14.88 acres is still designated Wilderness and any activities on these National Forest Wilderness lands must comply with the Wilderness Act.

While the mineral estate on the 14.88 acres is in private ownership and could be mined, getting approval may prove difficult because of the Wilderness Act’s requirement that the surface estate be protected.

  • Subject to valid existing rights or emergencies, there is no motorized travel allowed in designated Wilderness Ares. The roads named in the real estate listing for Emily Camp are Wilderness “trails.”

Explanation: The original listing says “Emily Camp USFS Rd #1121 and 1131.” These are Forest Service Wilderness trail number. Trail #1131 intersects trail #1109 (Bailey Mountain Trail), which goes down to the Little Chetco River and meets trail #1121 (the Madstone Cabin Trail.)

The previous owner tried to get unlimited motorized access to the inholding but the District Court Judge didn’t agree any of his arguments. The federal government is required to provide reasonable access to private inholdings, including in Wilderness Areas if there’s a valid existing right. However, The Kalmiopsis Wilderness predates the Emily Camp inholding by 24 years so there was no established motorized access to private property when the Kalmiopsis was made Wilderness.

  •  Our search found no surface water rights with the property.
  • The current owner has been notified Curry County that he does not have the proper permits to conduct a commercial operation.   See this in depth Oregonian article. 
  • The federal government can only pay the fair market value for the inholding and that’s not likely to be $599,000. The fair market value also applies to land exchanges. See High Country News
Emily Camp on the Little Chetco River, Kalmiopsis Wilderness (USDA Forest Service photo0
Emily Camp on the Little Chetco River, Kalmiopsis Wilderness (USDA Forest Service photo0

A little Background—When the Kalmiopsis was first designated Wilderness in 1964, there was no private land in the Wilderness. There were lots of mining claims, however. Now after almost a half century, this rugged, ultra wild Wilderness is finally free of federal mining claims and all the threats to Wilderness integrity associated with them. It’s been a long long struggle for some of us, but the last three claims went rather painlessly in 2010 (after some harrowing previous years).

What happened in September of 2010, was that the Chetco River Mining and Exploration forfeited ~ 20 miles of federal mining claims, which covered almost half the length of the National Wild and Scenic Chetco River.

The mining claim on this part of the Chetco River was forfeited in 2010 (USDA FS Photo)
The mining claim on this part of the  Wild  Chetco River was forfeited in 2010 (USDA FS Photo)

Three of the claims were in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness. We believe these to be the last of the federal mining claims in the Wilderness. In other words, they’re gone. Extinguished forever—at no cost to the taxpayer—because the mining company rather than paying the minimal maintenance fee, used the small miner exemption, when their claim holdings did not meet the criteria for the exemption.

How Wilderness became private property — Because valid mining claims (remember the word “valid”) on National Forest and BLM lands constitute a property right, any withdrawal of lands from operation of the 1872 Mining Law is “subject to valid existing rights.” When the Kalmiopsis Wild Area became congressionally designated Wilderness in 1964, it was withdrawn from the mining law in the legislation .” This then required the submission of a mining plan and a “valid existing rights determination” before any mining activities could occur on existing mining claims.

Mining claims holders had long been using the remote Kalmiopsis Wilderness to live out their version of the wild west. Claim holders grew pot, had stills, held road hunting parties for friends, bulldozed the old mining tracks at will and sold claims as vacation spots. One man even started to clear a strip to land airplanes. You can still see the scars of this.  Another (the year before wilderness designation) miner bulldozed about 15 miles of road and began mining along the crystal clear wild Chetco River, causing it to run red for days. This was the general setting for the granting of an application to purchase the three Little Chetco mining claims under the patenting provision of the 1872 Mining Law.

A valid existing rights determination (VER) was done. The claims were found valid and as such the claim holder was allowed to purchase the land encompassed by them in 1988 for the 1872 price of $2.50 per acre. Title to the land was granted, subject to the restrictions discussed above, and that’s how 45 acres in the heart of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness because private property 24 years after the area had been designated Wilderness with no private property. This is why we have what’s known as Emily Camp with an asking price of $599,000.

There were a lot of mistakes made. The patent for the surface estate should never have been granted for any of the land and the mineral exam would never pass muster today. The task now is to see there are no more mistakes and for the Kalmiopsis Wilderness to be made whole again.

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Senator Wyden’s Grants Pass town hall meeting http://kalmiopsiswild.org/5004/senator-wydens-grants-pass-town-hall-meeting/ http://kalmiopsiswild.org/5004/senator-wydens-grants-pass-town-hall-meeting/#comments Wed, 12 Feb 2014 00:30:57 +0000 http://kalmiopsiswild.org/?p=5004 Local coverage of Senator Wyden’s Grants Pass town hall failed to capture important issues raised by the estimated 150 people who attended.  In recognition of the many who traveled from the Applegate and Illinois Valley’s to be heard, we want to share some of the important issues they raised. With little ceremony, the Senator dove […]

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Local coverage of Senator Wyden’s Grants Pass town hall failed to capture important issues raised by the estimated 150 people who attended.  In recognition of the many who traveled from the Applegate and Illinois Valley’s to be heard, we want to share some of the important issues they raised.

With little ceremony, the Senator dove right into taking questions.  While many in the Sunday, Feb. 9th  overflow crowd were standing, few left the 90 minute meeting till the end. Senator Wyden appeared to be enjoying the give and take—commenting that it was particularly good town hall.

One speaker pointed out that property taxes in Josephine County were the lowest in the state. He said this was one of the biggest problems facing the County.  Wyden’s  bill, intending to provide some relief to O&C counties, just had a hearing before the Senator Energy and Natural Resources Committee. View the archived video of the hearing for (S. 1784) the O&C Land Grant Act of 2013 and read the written testimony of the witnesses here. The Oregonian writes that the Senator vows to pass the legislation this year.  Read the article about the hearing.

The Williams Valley looking across BLM O&C lands from Grayback Mountain.
The Williams Valley looking across BLM O&C lands from Grayback Mountain. Forty Rogue, Applegate and Williams Valley farmers have written to the Senator about his O&C Land Grant Act of 2013.

Here are a few issues that the Grants Pass Courier was silent on. The first question asked was what can be done about the export of raw logs from private forest land? The Senator didn’t think Congress wanted to get into telling private land owners what to do.

Log exports, however, affects timber supplies to mills and therefore jobs. High unemployment in rural communities is being used to justify increasing the cut on federal forests in Oregon in both the House and Senate.  In a June 4, 2012 Eugene Register-Guard guest opinion Roy Keene writes that “one-third of Oregon’s annual timber harvest is currently exported as raw logs from private lands.” Keene concludes:

Reducing raw log exports, establishing fair taxes and fostering value-added wood products is where our politicians should focus to democratically increase local timber supplies, revenue and jobs.

Raw logs leaving Portland for China.
Pictured: Raw logs leaving Portland for China. In 2011, Roy Keene wrote in the Oregonian that “at least 500 timber jobs leave the Northwest weekly as boatload after boatload of raw laws are exported to Asian mills.

Don Tipping of Seven Seeds Farm in Williams, Oregon spoke on behalf of 40 Southern Oregon farms, many of them organic. The farmer’s have written a letter to the Senator supporting public lands protection. Tipping said  that “Farms in the Rogue and Applegate River Valleys are important to the local economy and a key reason why people find southern Oregon an attractive region to live and visit.” He asked the Senator to maintain protections for southern Oregon’s forests and waterways, especially streamside and older forests that surround farms and communities.

Tipping also discussed water issues he and other area farms are facing as a result of the drought. In short, he talked about the importance of the forests in maintaining a sustainable flow of clean water. Another member of the audience, with similar concerns, said about 70 percent of the Applegate Valley’s watershed is O&C land.

The East Fork Illinois River at Cave Junction on Dec. 2, 2013. The East Fork Illinois River provides the water for the city and the community of Kerby
The East Fork Illinois River at Cave Junction on Dec. 2, 2013. The river is the water source for Cave Junction and Kerby. The communities are asking for drinking water source protection in Senator Wyden’s O&C bill.

Gordon Lyford, a member of the Illinois Valley Watershed Council and certified water right examiner, urged the Senator to designate more Drinking Water Special Management Units in his legislation. He said the units should be managed as Conservation Emphasis Areas and suggested they be consistent with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality Source Water Assessment maps for public water systems using surface water.

O&Trust Lands would be managed like private industrial forest land. Pictured private land logging in Illinois River Basin.
Google Earth image of private industrial forest land in the East Fork Illinois River Watershed. The East Fork is the domestic water source for the City of Cave Junction and community of Kerby.

Lyford explained when you slick the trees and vegetation off slopes, the precipitation runs off quickly instead of seeping in and recharging the groundwater system. The rapid runoff washes soil and debris into streams. In the East Fork Illinois Watershed, this puts a strain on Cave Junction’s state of the art water system and increases the cost of water treatment.

The ODEQ’s Source Water Assessment Summary for the City of Cave Junction (PWS #4100971) places in the “higher” potential risk category the:

Cutting and yarding of trees may contribute to increased erosion, resulting in turbidity and chemical changes in drinking water supply. Over-application or improper handling of pesticides or fertilizers may impact drinking water source.

John Gardiner, a member of the Cave Junction City Council and Illinois Valley Watershed Council asked Senator Wyden to specifically establish the Cave Junction Drinking Water Special Management Unit consistent with members of the City Council and the Kerby Water District’s letters to the Senator.  McKenzie, Hillsboro, Clackamas and Springfield were given special drinking water protections in the Senator’s O&C Land Grant Act of 2013. 

Gardiner also said he supports the Senator’s proposed Illinois Valley Salmon and Botanical Area.

Rough and Ready Creek is a tributary of the West Fork Illinois River known for its exceptional water quality.  This photo was taken within a hour of the East Fork Illinois photo below.
Rough and Ready Creek in Senator Wyden’s proposed Illinois Valley Salmon and Botanical Area is known for its exceptional water quality. This photo was taken within a hour of the East Fork Illinois photo above.

Christine Gardiner raised concerns about what she called “chemical trespass”—the spraying of herbicides on private industrial forest land and its affects on residents in the area, including cancer clusters. She explained how difficult it is for neighbors to find out when nearby private forest lands were to be sprayed and the chemical content of the herbicides used. Christine asked the Senator for his help and said “as a community we have a constitutional right not to be poisoned.” This got a loud round of applause.

Aerial application of chemicals is allowed on private forest land under the Oregon Forest Practices Act.
The aerial application of herbicides on private forest land is permitted under the Oregon Forest Practices Act but there’s no requirement to disclose the chemicals in the spray to the public.

The Eugene Register-Guard in a January 12, 2014 editorial wrote about similar concerns:

The information vacuum is illustrated by a case in Gold Beach, where two dozen residents complained of headaches, blurred vision, joint pain and other problems after an aerial application of herbicides on nearby forest land in October. Residents have petitioned the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and other federal agencies for an investigation.

Read the full Register-Guard editorialWyden said application of herbicides on private land is a state issue but agreed it was important. He told Gardiner “If you get together the relevant state officials, I will make sure our office is at all those meetings.”

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Illinois Valley residents don’t trust the O&C Trust Act http://kalmiopsiswild.org/4336/illinois-valley-residents-dont-trust-the-o-and-c-trust-act/ http://kalmiopsiswild.org/4336/illinois-valley-residents-dont-trust-the-o-and-c-trust-act/#comments Tue, 12 Nov 2013 02:26:47 +0000 http://kalmiopsiswild.org/?p=4336 Over 100 Illinois Valley residents packed the Cave Junction Community Building on September 24th to hear Congressman Peter DeFazio explain the O&C Trust, Conservation and Jobs Act. Protestors waved signs and giant tree puppets provided levity to the otherwise serious mood of the crowd. Known as the O&C Trust Act, the bill is co-authored by […]

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Over 100 Illinois Valley residents packed the Cave Junction Community Building on September 24th to hear Congressman Peter DeFazio explain the O&C Trust, Conservation and Jobs Act. Protestors waved signs and giant tree puppets provided levity to the otherwise serious mood of the crowd. Known as the O&C Trust Act, the bill is co-authored by Representatives Greg Walden (R-OR), Kurt Schraeder (D-OR) and Peter DeFazio (D-OR).

Representative Peter DeFazio good-naturedly poses with protesters of the O&C Trust Act.
Rep. Peter DeFazio good-naturedly poses with protesters of the O&C Trust Act. Annette McGee Rausch photo.

The Act was folded into an even worse piece of forest legislation—H.R. 1526. They passed the House of Representatives handily on September 20th. President Obama opposes the bill and said he will veto it.

Peter DeFazio's September 24th town hall meeting in Southwest Oregon's Illinois River Valley. Photo Annette McGee Rasch.
Peter DeFazio talks to worried Illinois Valley residents about the O&C Trust Act at his September 24th Cave Junction town hall. Annette McGee Rasch photo.

Polite, but often critical, residents of this rural community had come to hear how the O&C Trust Act would affect where they live, work and play. Watch Chanel 5 coverage. The BLM lands of the Illinois River Valley are closely intertwined with people’s homes, farms and businesses. Many attendees were concerned about the spraying of herbicides, clearcutting in their watersheds, destruction of trails, impacts on tourism and on attempts to diversify the local economy. They wanted details.

Grade schoolers and their parents with the giant tree puppets protest the O&C Trust Act. Annette McGree Rasch Photo.
Grade and pre-schoolers and their parents, along with giant tree puppets, protest the O&C Trust Act at Peter DeFazio’s Illinois Valley Town Hall on September 24th. Annette McGee Rausch photo.

What they got were generalities. On the surface it sounded good. But the real numbers tell a different story. For example, according to a recent analysis, the O&C Trust Act would protect 102,000 acres of Wilderness and Wild and Scenic River 102,000 acres. However, it would effectively privatize 1.6 million acres of federal public forest land by placing them in a logging trust.[1]  Many thousands of acres of both National Forest and BLM lands in the Illinois River Basin, a wild salmon and steelhead stronghold, would be transferred to the timber trust.

Illinois Valley resident: "I don't feel we should be sacrificing the integrity of these federal public lands for county governments. They belong to all Americans."
Illinois Valley resident Bill Gray: “I don’t feel we should be sacrificing the integrity of these federal public lands for county governments. They belong to all Americans.”

Selecting out 1.6 million acres of federal forests for the O&C timber trust by age—125 years old or younger—would also result in the severe fragmentation of 2.6 million acres of BLM and National Forest O&C lands in Western Oregon.  The land would be carved up into bits and pieces depending on the determined age of its forest. On the National Forests, the formation of the trust would fragment now contiguous National Forest land including in Oregon’s largest Inventoried Roadless Areas, the North and South Kalmiopsis.

The Shasta Costa Roadless Area. Barbara Ullian Photo.
Under the O&C Trust Act, 125 year old or younger virgin forest, such as those in the Shasta Costa Roadless Area on the Siskiyou National Forest, would be transferred to the timber trust and managed as private industrial forest land.

Contrary to what proponents of the O&C Trust Act often claim, it’s not just existing tree plantations that would be placed in the timber trust. The Act requires that all forests on BLM and National Forest O&C land, which are 125 years of age or younger (unless exempt), to be placed in the timber trust and managed for maximum sustained yield. This includes native/virgin forest such as those found in the Shasta Costa Roadless Area and Northwest Forest Plan Key Watershed.[2]

Private land logging above the South Fork Coquille River under the Oregon Forest Practices Act.
Private land logging above the South Fork Coquille River under the Oregon Forest Practices Act.

The O&C Trust Act  will degrade millions of acres of federal public forests and watersheds. It would especially be destructive for the Illinois River Valley, the upper Illinois River Basin and the watershed of the National Wild and Scenic Illinois River. Learn the specifics in coming posts.

Aerial application of chemicals is allowed on private forest land under the Oregon Forest Practices Act.
Aerial application of chemicals is allowed on private land under the Oregon Forest Practices Act and will also be on O&C Trust lands. Residents near these lands are gravely concerned about their drinking water and health.

The O&C Trust Act is a gift to the timber industry and a recipe for the exploitation of our natural heritage and the further impoverishment of communities like the Illinois Valley. As Bob Doppelt recently wrote in the Eugene Register-Guard providing for the future of Oregon’s rural communities is a complex problem that won’t be solved by a simple solution like the O&C Trust Act.

Illinois Valley resident John Gardiner: "Every clearcut is causing problems environmentally for the people who live around it."
Illinois Valley resident Dr. Paul Goff: “Every clearcut is causing big problems environmentally for the people who live around it. The days of big lumber are over and Congress has to realize that.”

Notes

[1] Representative DeFazio objects to the use of the term “privatize” to describe the transfer of National Forest and BLM lands to the O&C Trust. However, according to Senator Wyden it is a form of privatization. Senator Ron Wyden in interview with the Salem Statesman Journal on August 21st.

I believe that looking at history, you can’t get passed and enacted into law (and failure is unacceptable) if you try to privatize vast swaths of federal land. The house wishes to pursue that route…The trust—and we’ve spent a lot of time studying this—in the house bill is a unique kind of entity but it functions as a private body under state law and thereby doesn’t comply with NEPA and the ESA …

Senator Ron Wyden at the Salem Statesman Journal
Senator Ron Wyden at the Salem Statesman Journal. Click here for one hour video interview.

[2] The authors of the O&C Trust Act have provided maps of BLM O&C land that would be transferred to the timber trust. However, as of yet there are no maps of BLM Public Domain lands and National Forest O&C lands that would be included in the timber trust. According to one analysis approximately 250,000 of National Forest O&C land would be transferred to the timber trust, where it would be clearcut, sprayed with chemicals and for the most part managed as private forest land. Because of its more frequent fire history, the 170,000 acres National Forest O&C land in the Siskiyou National Forest is particularly at risk. There are many thousands of acres of young native (virgin) fire placement stands on the forests, including in large Inventoried Roadless Areas.

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Labrador Fire closes Wild and Scenic Illinois River Corridor http://kalmiopsiswild.org/3711/labrador-fire-closes-wild-and-scenic-illinois-river-corridor-and-more/ http://kalmiopsiswild.org/3711/labrador-fire-closes-wild-and-scenic-illinois-river-corridor-and-more/#comments Sun, 28 Jul 2013 00:49:12 +0000 http://kalmiopsiswild.org/?p=3711 Update July 29th: The Wild and Scenic Illinois River Corridor, the Illinois River Road (FS Road 4103) and the Sixmile Creek Road (FS Road 5105) are closed and now subject to a closure order. Read the closure order here. Correction July 27th 9:00 p.m.  The Rogue Rive-Siskiyou National Forest has not yet closed the Illinois River […]

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Update July 29th: The Wild and Scenic Illinois River Corridor, the Illinois River Road (FS Road 4103) and the Sixmile Creek Road (FS Road 5105) are closed and now subject to a closure order. Read the closure order here.

Correction July 27th 9:00 p.m.  The Rogue Rive-Siskiyou National Forest has not yet closed the Illinois River Corridor. This is not expected to happen until Monday. The agency is making sweeps of the corridor to inform users that it will be closing.

July 27th 5:30 p.m.  As of this time we have little official information, but residents along the Wild and Scenic Illinois River Corridor have been told that the corridor was closed to the public as of 2:00 p.m. today (July 27th).

Josephine County Search and Rescue will be staffing the entrance to the Illinois Canyon  (FS Road 4103) 24 hours a day. A Forest Service law enforcement officer is going up and down the popular recreation ares rousting campers and miners.

Someone left a campfire burning at Store Gulch and this had to be dealt with.

What closing the river corridor could mean, is the Forest Service is preparing for a big burnout operation as their strategy against the Labrador Fire. At least this is what happened during the 2002 Biscuit Fire.

We’re told that residents at Oak Flat are being aided with reducing fuels around their homes and outbuildings and putting sprinklers on roofs.

Other property owners along the corridor are working feverishly on their own to get roof sprinkler systems operational and to clear fuels.

During the 2002 Biscuit Fire, Forest Service burnout operations, on the eastside of the fire alone, were estimated to have accounted for 100,000 acres of burned National Forest land.[1] Early on fire managers were honest that their goal was to blackened everything between the constructed fireline and the fire itself. Later it was harder to get managers to admit to the strategy and to this day the actual size of the natural Biscuit Fire remains unknown.

Stay tuned.

Note

[1] Burnouts are fires deliberately ignited by fire fighters to remove fuels across a wide area.

 

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