Saturday, January 17, 2015

Nedsbar Timber Sale: Units 33-30 and 34-30

Boaz Mountain in the Boaz Mountain Roadless Area. The area is a mixture of chaparral, white oak woodland and conifer forest. The forested slopes at the center of this photo are unit 34-30 in the Nedsbar Timber Sale and would be reduced to 40% canopy closure. 
Boaz Mountain rises from the banks of the Applegate River near Eastside Road. The mountain dominates the eastern horizon from Star Ranger Station to McKee Bridge on Upper Applegate Road. The slopes of the mountain are roadless on three sides, providing a natural backdrop to many Upper Applegate Valley residences. The Boaz Mountain Roadless Area provides connectivity between the Little Applegate and Upper Applegate watersheds. It also provides connectivity between the Little Greyback Roadless Area and Buncom Roadless Area on the ridgeline dividing the Little Applegate and Upper Applegate Valleys.

Units 33-30 and 34-30 lie within the Boaz Mountain Roadless Area on the mountain's western slope. 34-30 is high on the mountain overlooking the Upper Applegate Valley, while 33-30 is tucked into the north slope of a very prominent bluff rising from Eastside Road. Both units should be canceled to protect the area's old, complex, low-elevation forest, the habitat connectivity provided by the Boaz Mountain Roadless Area, and the scenic values of the Upper Applegate Valley.

Unit 33-30 
A very prominent rocky bluff rises from the banks of the Applegate River off Eastside Road, halfway between Star Ranger Station and the historic McKee Bridge and Forest Service day use area. Unit 33-30 is located on the north slope of these rocky bluffs. At only 2,000' in elevation, the unit represents a rare example of low-elevation, late seral habitat adjacent to the valley floor. Being so low in elevation the forests of Boaz Mountain provide important connectivity for species such as the Pacific fisher, a candidate for listing as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The forests also provide important dispersal as well as nesting, roosting, and foraging habitat for the northern spotted owl. 

The open, late seral forest of unit 33-30.
Unit 33-30 consists of a highly variable and diverse forest supporting a few dense pole stands speckled in remnant, old trees and relatively spacious groves of late seral Douglas fir forest. Douglas Fir dominates the stand with scattered madrone — some of large stature. Understory conditions are generally open and grassy with isolated patches of Oregon grape. A few sections support an understory of shrub-form live oak, not more than four feet in height and suppressed by the tall, filtered canopy of large, old trees. The forest is relatively well adapted to fire with large areas of open-grown Douglas fir in the overstory, many over 30” in diameter. These trees have tall canopies, thick, fire resistant bark and very little ladder fuel. Canopy closure is roughly 75%-85%, but dominated by large, old, open-grown trees and complex branch structure.

The prescription proposed by the BLM is a “Structural Retention Regeneration Harvest,” meaning the existing overstory will be thinned to 30%-40% canopy coverage. Large trees (defined as 20” or more in diameter) in the unit would be reduced to 16-25 trees per acre. The drastic reduction in canopy is designed directly to “Create growing space for a new cohort of trees and/or increase the growth of existing understory trees.” This means that the fire resilient overstory trees will be heavily logged in an attempt to encourage the growth of young, low statured vegetation that is poorly adapted to fire. The condition that would result from such management is the development of excessive ladder fuels in a stand that currently does not support high levels of young understory growth or ladder fuel. The impact will be a drastic increase in fuel hazards in the Wildland Urban Interface along Upper Applegate Road. 

Unit 33-30 viewed from Boaz Gulch Road. The forest in this picture would be reduced to 30%-40% canopy coverage and 16-25 large trees per acre.

The impact will also be a drastic reduction in important habitat for the Pacific fisher and northern spotted owl, as well as a reduction in thermal cover in important winter range habitat for ungulate species. Unit 33-30 is not an overstocked, unhealthy stand in need of thinning. The proposed treatments will increase fire hazards in the Wildland Urban Interface and impact habitat connectivity within the region. Unit 33-30 should be canceled to protect these important values and encourage fire resilience in the Upper Applegate Valley. To do otherwise is irresponsible and fails to serve the public interest. This proposal is not supported by the best available science.

Unit 34-30
A large Douglas fir tree over 30" in diameter in unit 34-30. This tree and many other dominant overstory trees were marked in the 2002 Bobar Timber Sale and never cut. The same units are now being proposed for commercial harvest in the Nedsbar Timber Sale. 
Unit 34-30 lies directly above unit 33-30, yet extends much further to the north around the face of Boaz Mountain. The unit consists of a broad forested stringer bordered by white oak woodland. The unit is highly variable and diverse with portions of the stand consisting of closed canopy pole stands of Douglas fir and madrone. Other portions of the unit — especially on draws and small, relatively flat benches created by old landslides — support late seral forest habitat of pine and fir. Numerous areas support large, old-growth ponderosa pine and Douglas fir stands with little understory fuel. Other areas support small groves of big, old madrone trees.

The unit was marked in the Bobar Timber Sale that was offered to bidders through federal auction by the BLM around 2002 and received no bidders. Many of the units proposed in Nedsbar were originally proposed and marked in the Bobar Timber Sale. The old mark is visible throughout the stand and in many areas proposed logging large, overstory trees. It is expected that a similar mark would be proposed in the Nedsbar Timber Sale, except the agency has identified much more intensive timber management objectives for Nedsbar than in the Bobar Timber Sale.

The prescription for unit 34-30 in the Nedsbar Timber Sale is a “group selection 40%,” meaning the canopy of the stand will be logged to 40% canopy coverage by removing grouping of trees. These groupings will consist of logged canopy openings of up to one-half acre. The proposed reduction in canopy will increase fuel hazards in the stand, impact habitat connectivity, decrease or “downgrade” habitat for the northern spotted owl and the Pacific fisher. The unit should be canceled to protect the area's biological and scenic values. Boaz Mountain is roadless and relatively intact, supporting late seral stands and old-growth trees important for their habitat value — it should remain that way.  

The blue marked trees were marked for removal in the Bobar Timber Sale, a BLM timber sale that received no bids at auction and therefore was never cut. The mark in the Nedsbar Timber Sale is likely to be very similar and would reduce canopy coverage in unit 34-30 to 40%.


The yellow star on the map represents Star Ranger Station. Unit 33-30, marked in red, is a “structural retention regeneration harvest.” Unit 34-30 is a group selection unit. The brown area below, marked F-28, is a fuel reduction unit.

The Siskiyou Crest blog and Klamath Forest Alliance have joined forces to organize the Nedsbar Community Monitoring Project. We have successfully reviewed many of the proposed logging units. Please consider making a tax deductible donation to the Klamath Forest Alliance to support this important work. Some of the last and best low elevation forest in the Applegate Valley is threatened by the Nedsbar Timber Sale. Our goal is to inform the public, document the sale's potential impacts, generate high quality public comment and STOP THE NEDSBAR TIMBER SALE!

Contribute to the Nedsbar Community Monitoring Project.

Contribute online or by mail:
PO Box 21
Orleans, CA 95556

Please specify that your donation is for the Nedsbar Timber Sale

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