2018: A Year of Conservation in the Applegate Valley

2018 was a big year for ANN. We started off in January by receiving official 501c3 certification. ANN is now an independent non-profit organization, focused entirely on the protection and restoration of wildlands, old growth forests and intact native habitats in the Applegate Watershed.

We also worked on numerous environmental campaigns in 2018 throughout the Applegate region to protect, defend and restore important natural habitats. Our campaigns extended from the headwaters of the Applegate River in the high country of the Siskiyou Crest, to the mouth of the Applegate River near Wilderville. We achieved considerable success in 2018 and look forward to more in the coming year. Please support conservation in the Applegate Valley with a year-end donation. Below are a few of the highlights from 2018.

The Black Mountain Preserve

Massive old trees were protected by Selberg Institute on the north slope of Black Mountain.

Located high on the slopes of the Siskiyou Crest in the Upper Applegate Watershed, on the heavily forested northern slope of Black Mountain, lies the beautiful Black Mountain Parcel. The Black Mountain Parcel is a 240-acre private parcel of land completely surrounded by the over 20,000-acre Condrey Mountain Roadless Area.  It was previously owned by the Fruit Growers Supply (FGS), an industrial logging company based in Hilt, California in the Colestin Valley.

The parcel contains extensive old-growth forests, one of the only stands of Pacific silver fir in the Siskiyou Mountains, numerous headwater streams, and beautiful wetlands, glades and rock outcrops. It is located at the headwaters of Dutch Creek, one of the wildest watersheds remaining in the Applegate River basin. The parcel maintains intact, wilderness-quality habitat at the heart of the Condrey Mountain Roadless Area and the Siskiyou Crest Connectivity Corridor.

The Black Mountain Parcel has been imminently threatened by logging in the past, and for decades the local conservation community has worked to protect the Black Mountain Parcel by working to secure a conservation buyout. Until this past summer, those efforts had been unsuccessful.

In 2017, the Miller Complex Fire burned through the Black Mountain parcel at low severity, burning beneath the massive old trees, creating habitat, reducing fuel loads and restoring fire to some of the most intact ancient forests in the Applegate River Watershed. Although the fire itself was beneficial, it became an excuse for FGS to clearcut the parcel under an “emergency” fire “salvage” permit.

ANN simply could not let that happen! We joined forces with the Klamath Forest Alliance and the Selberg Institute to secure a conservation buyout of the parcel, protecting its incredible habitat and conservation values for future generations. The Selberg Institute is now the proud owner of the Black Mountain Preserve and folks in the Applegate owe them a huge debit of gratitude for protecting some of our most beautiful old-growth forests in the Siskiyou Crest Connectivity Corridor. ANN was proud to help the Selberg Institute secure this incredible conservation victory for the Siskiyou Crest. May Black Mountain remain wild, forever! Stay tuned for more information about the new Black Mountain Preserve, the Applegate’s newest protected landscape!

Savage Murph Timber Sale

This beautiful stand of old, fire-adapted forest was withdrawn from the Savage Murph Timber Sale due to the monitoring and advocacy of ANN.

The Savage Murph Timber Sale was a portion of the larger Pickett West Timber Sale proposed by the Medford District BLM. In 2017, ANN organized with conservation partners across the region to oppose this egregious, old-growth logging proposal. Thousands of acres of old-growth forest were proposed for logging and local activists and community members throughout southern Oregon organized to cancel large portions of the sale on the Rogue River near Hellgate Canyon and in the mountains above Selma, Oregon.

A small subset of units from Pickett West were located in the mountains of the Applegate Valley, including forests outside Murphy, Wilderville and above North Applegate Road. This was called the Savage Murph Timber Sale — and savage, it would have been, if implemented as originally proposed. ANN successfully opposed numerous new roads and old-growth logging units, reducing the proposed timber sale from 2,229 acres to 192 acres, an 86% reduction in the total sale area. Due to the diligent and effective advocacy of ANN many new roads and old-growth logging units were excluded from the Savage Murph Timber Sale. This drastically reduced project was then approved for logging, but failed to sell at the federal timber auction. To date, no logging has occurred in the Savage Murph Timber Sale, and all of the most concerning proposals have not moved forward.

Post-Fire Logging on the Siskiyou Crest

The trees marked blue are proposed for logging to within 50′ of the Pacific Crest Trail near Cook and Green Pass.

The 2017 Miller Complex Fire burned through over 36,000 acres of public land on the Siskiyou Crest, in both the Applegate and Klamath River watersheds. The fire burned in a beneficial mixed-severity fire mosaic through some of the most intact forests and wildlands in the region.

Cook and Green Pass, a high mountain saddle located on the Siskiyou Crest and traversed by the Pacific Crest Trail, is cherished by many local residents for its intact landscapes and natural, scenic qualities. Multiple Botanical Areas are located at Cook and Green Pass, adjacent to the Red Buttes Wilderness, the Condrey Mountain Roadless Area and the Kangaroo Roadless Area.

Cook and Green Pass and the surrounding area burned in the 2017 Miller Complex Fire. The Klamath National Forest responded by proposing a vast, clearcut logging proposal that would reach to nearly the Siskiyou Crest and the Pacific Crest Trail, east of Cook and Green Pass. Although located just outside the Applegate River watershed, ANN saw the proposed project as a threat to the connectivity, beauty and biodiversity of the Siskiyou Crest, so we went into action!

We conducted extensive field monitoring of proposed timber sale units and submitted detailed, site-specific public comments and administrative objections to the project. Although the project was approved, some of our field monitoring and issues identified in our public comment are being utilized by the Environmental Protection and Information Center (EPIC), Klamath Forest Alliance and KS Wild in their lawsuit to stop post-fire logging on the Siskiyou Crest. We will keep you posted on the results of that lawsuit.

Upper Applegate Watershed Restoration Project (UAW)

A view east from near the summit of Boaz Mountain and up Beaver Creek to Dutchman’s Peak. The Forest Service proposed to build new motorcycle trails through this beautiful clearing and across the Boaz Mountain Roadless Area. Due to pressure from ANN and local community members this OHV trail was canceled. 

For the last three years ANN has worked collaboratively with the Forest Service, the BLM and other interested stakeholders on the Upper Applegate Watershed Restoration Project (UAW). Although ANN has worked in a collaborative capacity on this project, we have also opposed some facets of the project and hope to see it move forward with an emphasis on truly restorative actions.

Most of the project will be beneficial, reducing fuel loads near local communities, while also restoring important habitats and ecological processes in the Upper Applegate Valley on both BLM and Forest Service land. ANN has been instrumental in ensuring this project provides both social and ecological benefits to the Applegate Valley. In that capacity we have supported numerous prescribed burning projects, plantation thinning, fuel reduction projects, pollinator and native plant restoration projects, some judicious commercial logging units with ecological sidebars and new non-motorized trails along old mine ditches and roads.

We have also opposed proposals to include new motorcycle trails in the Boaz Mountain Roadless Area and the Beaver Creek watershed. ANN and many in the local community have strongly opposed new motorized trail development in the UAW Project. Due to our efforts the motorized trail proposed through the Boaz Mountain Roadless Area has been canceled, but a few motorized trails remain in the project proposal. ANN will continue to oppose motorcycle trail creation in the UAW project and advocate for work that can truly be called habitat restoration and will have beneficial ecological outcomes.

ANN and our community supporters have continually attended public meetings and field trips advocating for conservation, restoration, and community values. Thank you to everyone in the Applegate Valley who has participated in this process. We have made a big difference!

The Environmental Assessment for the UAW Project will be coming out soon. Please join ANN in our opposition to new motorized motorcycle trails in the Applegate Valley and help us support those portions of the project that will benefit our forests, encourage biodiversity and maintain a high quality of life in the Applegate.

Our continuing programs

Wellington Wildlands west of Ruch, Oregon in the Applegate foothills.

ANN has been focusing on specific land management projects throughout the watershed, while continuing our ongoing programs that include our Timber Sale Monitoring Program, Off-Road Vehicle Monitoring Program and Wildland Protection Program.

Through our Wildland Protection Program, we worked with Applegate Valley neighbors and residents, Greeley Wells and Ed Keller, to help produce their new film, Saving Wellington. The film explores the Wellington Wildlands, west of Ruch, Oregon and highlights the beauty of the area, the threats to its ecology, and the community effort to protect it in perpetuity. Both ANN and Applegate Trails Association worked on this project. ANN hosted the premiere film showing of Saving Wellington this fall at Red Lily Vineyards in the Applegate Valley. We will also be hosting a film showing on Dec. 14 in Ashland.

Thanks to Greeley and Ed for their efforts, expertise and artistry in creating this beautiful film. We will release Saving Wellington online next spring, but for now come on out to one of our film showings and enjoy the beauty of the Wellington Wildlands on the big screen!

Looking forward to 2019

ANN looks forward to a productive year in 2019. We will continue attending many, many meetings with agencies and conservation partners, hosting events, leading hikes, walking hundreds of rugged off-trail miles for on-the-ground monitoring and field work, participating in community conservation efforts, and leading environmental action in the Applegate. Please consider making a year-end donation to ANN. Your support will help us continue our conservation efforts in the Applegate Valley. What is a wild Applegate worth to you? Support conservation in the Applegate!