Friday, December 12, 2014

Nedsbar Timber Sale: Regeneration Unit 28-22B

Unit 28-22B in the Nedsbar Timber Sale. The unit supports open, fire-adapted late seral habitat conditions due to the influence of recent, low severity fire. The stand sustained understory fire in 1987 and remains a healthy example of late seral, old-growth forest in the foothills of the Applegate Valley. The unit needs no treatment whatsoever to reduce fuels or address forest health concerns and should be canceled.

           The Nedsbar Timber Sale is located in the Upper and Little Applegate Valleys on public lands administered by the Medford District BLM. The BLM has proposed a large, landscape scale timber sale focused solely on producing timber for private industry. The proposed timber sale includes over 100 units spread across thousands of acres of public land, including the Dakubetede Roadless Area, the proposed Dakubetede Primitive Area, and an important connectivity corridor connecting the foothills of the Applegate Valley and the Siskiyou Crest. The forests proposed for logging include some of the driest forest habitat in Oregon, west of the Cascade Mountains. They also include important late seral habitat for species such as the Pacific fisher and Northern spotted owl, as well as the threatened coho salmon. 
           As part of the Nedsbar Community Monitoring Program I recently visited numerous  commercial units proposed for logging in the Nedsbar Timber Sale. Although numerous of the units I visited supported healthy, fire-adapted stands and should be canceled, unit 28-22B was by far the most egregious I have seen so far.
           Unit 28-22B is located directly above the confluence of the Little Applegate River and Yale Creek on a very steep, north-facing slope. The unit lies within an unroaded portion of the proposed Dakubetede Primitive Area. The area burned in the Cantrall Fire of 1987, creating a mosaic of habitat types and stand structures, ranging from brushfields, to hardwood stands and oak woodlands, to various conifer habitats of pine and fir. Unit 28-22B represents some of the older, more complex and fire-adapted forest habitat in the area. 
            The 1987 underburn created a spacious and open forest of large Douglas fir, madrone, black oak, and in the draws, bigleaf maple. The unit has a relatively closed canopy, discouraging the development of understory fuels. In fact, fuel concerns in the unit are minimal, at best. Fire risks to surrounding communities would be greatly increased through the proposed “regeneration” logging prescriptions in unit 28-22B. These prescriptions would leave only 16-25 trees per acre, logging large, fire resistant trees and drastically opening the canopy to increased light infiltration. This increase in light will in turn create “regeneration,” or an increase in young growth, creating increased fuel loads and fire risks to the surrounding communities and forest stands. The stand would also be exposed to drying winds, increased sunlight, and shrub encroachment due to the large levels of canopy removal proposed. The complex structural conditions and layered canopy necessary for the Northern spotted owl would also be heavily degraded. 
Take note of how low the fuel risk is within Unit 28-22B. Regeneration harvesting in this unit would drastically increase fuel risks in a Wildland Urban Interface, adjacent to rural homes in the Little Applegate Valley

           The unit currently provides important features that would be damaged by regeneration logging, including old-growth characteristics, Northern spotted owl habitat, thermal cover for the area’s ungulate population, extremely low fuel risks, fire adapted forest habitats and scenic values. Unit 28-22B is not a stand in need of treatment; in fact, it could be seen as a “reference” ecosystem, as it still supports large, old trees and fire influenced stand conditions.
            To make matters worse, the BLM has proposed to construct roughly 1 mile of new road to access unit 28-22B and a handful of other commercial units on the ridgeline dividing Yale Creek and the Little Applegate River. With this new road would no doubt also come large landing construction, noxious weeds, OHV use, litter, and other disruptions to local wildlife and habitat conditions. The creation of new road in otherwise inaccessible areas will also increase the risk of human caused fire. Much of the proposed road construction would impact chaparral and oak woodland habitat. The combined effect would create a significant disturbance in this otherwise small, unroaded area.
            Unit 28-22B, and the new road construction proposed to access the unit, should be canceled. The residents of the Little Applegate should not be exposed to increased fire risks for the benefit of private industrial timber. Important habitat should not be sacrificed due to the demands of private industry placed upon public lands. It is our land; lets get out and defend it. 
Unit 28-22B

           The Siskiyou Crest blog and the Klamath Forest Alliance (KFA) are organizing a community-monitoring program for the Nedsbar Timber Sale. If you have a unit in your backyard or are motivated to go visit one, please go check it out and report back to us to help identify where units of concern are located. Email siskiyoucrest@gmail.com Pictures and unit descriptions are very helpful.
           Please contribute to the campaign to protect the Applegate Valley from the Nedsbar Timber Sale with your time, energy, and perhaps a few dollars. The Klamath Forest Alliance will be working with the local community and environmental organizations to oppose the Nedsbar Timber Sale and promote a sustainable management strategy that will emphasize fuel reduction, habitat protection, and the restoration of forest and watershed values in the Siskiyou Mountains.

Send donation to:
Klamath Forest Alliance
P.O. Box 21
Orleans, CA
95556
(Please specify your donation is for Nedsbar Timber Sale)

Nedsbar Timber Sale map depicting the location of unit 28-22B and the new road construction proposed to facilitate logging the area.

       

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