View of Red Butte from Bee Camp at the current end of Road 47N80. Road 47N80 is an obstacle to wilderness designation and should be closed to all motorized traffic.
The Klamath National Forest (KNF) has announced the development of a road rehabilitation project in the Seiad Creek Watershed, adjacent to the Red Buttes Wilderness and the Kangaroo Roadless Area. The project is being called, "The Seiad Legacy Roads Rehabilitation Project." The goal of the project is to improve water quality by reducing road related sediment sources in the watershed. The KNF has proposed a variety of treatments including culvert removal, road decommissioning, road re-contouring, fill removal, and the construction of water bars.
This project is designed around identifying what the KNF has deemed "legacy roads." Legacy roads serve little to no real purpose and degrade numerous important biological and social resources. Although much of this proposed project is commendable there is one key road missing from the list of "legacy" roads: Forest Service Road 47N80, otherwise known as the Bee Camp Road. The Bee Camp Road is long defunct, boulder strewn and barely drivable. It was built to access the chrome mines in Hello Canyon in the 1940's. It is truly a "legacy road," having long outlasted its original purpose.
The Bee Camp Road begins at Cook and Green Pass and heads west into the peridotite barrens surrounding Red Butte. The road is officially closed beyond picturesque Bee Camp, the small rocky basin on the south side of Red Butte. For roughly three miles the road parallels the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), surrounded by roadless wildland on all sides, but if closed at Cook and Green Pass, Bee Camp could also be three miles inside the back country.The road is adjacent to the Cook and Green Pass Botanical Area and the Seiad Baker Cypress Botanical Area; a few Baker cypress trees can even be found along the roadside. The area is designated "back country" by the KNF, and all Forest Sevice management direction in the area emphasizes back country and botanical values, wildlife, late successional reserves, and non-motorized recreation.
The road represents an obstacle for wilderness designation; it represents a seed source for noxious and non-native weeds; it disrupts the feeling of solitude and isolation in the Red Buttes Wilderness, the Kangaroo Roadless Area, and on the PCT. It also disturbs the abundant wildlife in the area because the road allows access for motorized vehicles, poachers, yahoos, and others who seek to do the place harm. The road is a missing link in what is otherwise a broad chain of wild country at the heart of the Siskiyou Crest, a renowned connectivity corridor for both flora and fauna. The Red Buttes region is the wild central core of the Siskiyou Crest, with the Condrey Mountain Roadless Area to the east and the Siskiyou Wilderness to the west. The Bee Camp Road is the only road still open to vehicular use from Cook and Green Pass to Sundown Gap, a distance of approximately 20 miles.
The Bee Camp Road also represents too much of a good thing: access to wilderness. The road currently penetrates an otherwise roadless landscape allowing access to the heart of the high country. The ease of access to high elevation basins in the Red Buttes Wilderness and Kangaroo Roadless Area could lead to overuse, impacting wilderness values, native vegetation, rare plant species, wildlife usage and behavior, connectivity, and the sense of solitude otherwise so prevalent in the area. A little forethought can go a long way if we act now.
From now until June 2, 2013 the KNF is accepting public comments regarding the "Seiad Legacy Roads Rehabilitation Project." Please let them know that the Bee Camp Road should be permanently closed to vehicular traffic and officially recognized as a hiking trail, providing a nearly 8 mile loop with the PCT from Cook and Green Pass. The myriad of other management directives effecting the immediate region include an emphasis on non-motorized back country recreation, botanical diversity, the protection of rare plant species, wilderness characteristics, and high water quality. The Bee Camp Road damages all of these values and should be decommissioned in the Seiad Legacy Road Rehabilitation Project.
Provide your public comments to the KNF at the following email address: firstname.lastname@example.org