Wednesday, May 13, 2015

KICKSTARTER: Applegate Valley OHV Monitoring Project


Through the Siskiyou Crest Blog I have initiated a Kickstarter Campaign to fund a comprehensive OHV monitoring project in the foothills of the Applegate Valley, called the Applegate Valley OHV Monitoring Project. This project will document the impacts of unmanaged OHV use, publicize the findings, and create a detailed monitoring report to inform the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the local community about the impacts of unauthorized and unmanaged OHV use, as well as identify solutions and management recommendations that will protect ecological and societal values.


Unmanaged and unauthorized OHV use is common throughout BLM lands in southwest Oregon, including the Applegate Valley.


The Applegate Valley OHV Monitoring Project will focus on the remaining wildland habitats of the Applegate Foothills, including the Dakubetede Roadless Area, the Wellington Butte Roadless Area, the Anderson Butte region, and the John's Peak/Forest Creek region. The project will document and identify the impacts of OHV use in these special regions.



The Wellington Butte Roadless Area has been identified by the BLM as an area supporting wilderness characteristics, including intact oak woodlands, conifer forests, chaparral, and beautiful grasslands. The area is also directly adjacent the the BLM's John's Peak OHV Area. Use from the adjacent unmanaged OHV area is beginning to encroach upon this beautiful wildland. 

The project will coincide with the comment period for the BLM's Resource Management Plan (RMP). The RMP includes language that could officially approve and codify OHV use in the Applegate Valley without specific environmental review and analysis. The RMP's approach would be very similar to the current situation at John's Peak, where the BLM announced the declaration of the area as an OHV Emphasis Area, but 20 years later has yet to subject the area's vast network of user-created trails to environmental analysis. 

The agency designated John's Peak as an OHV area in 1995, but did not identify OHV routes or trails available for motorized use. Since this time over 90 miles of user-created OHV trails have been carved into the forest and slopes of the area with no official environmental analysis, agency oversight, or engineering whatsoever. The situation has been a complete free-for-all due to agency neglect and indifference. The BLM has proposed a "categorical exclusion," meaning they are trying to circumvent environmental analysis and public scrutiny by claiming that the over 90 miles of unauthorized OHV trails have little to no environmental impact. 

Let's not let the BLM get away with more favors to the OHV industry, especially in the Applegate Valley's last wild places. Support the Applegate Valley OHV Monitoring Project by making a donation to my Kickstarter Campaign. Together we can make a difference in the Siskiyou Mountains.



The Dakubetede Roadless Area is located in the Little Applegate watershed and is well known to local hikers, mountain bikers, equestrians, and trail runners as the location of the Sterling Ditch Trail and the future location of the Jack-Ash Trail, which would extend from Ashland to Jacksonville, Oregon. The area is one of the most intact ecosystems in the Applegate foothills and one of the most heavily utilized non-motorized recreation areas on the Medford District BLM. The Dakubetede is also being increasingly impacted by unauthorized OHV use, severely impacting scenic values, ecological values, botanical values, and non-motorized recreational opportunities. With the increase in OHV use comes an increase in trash and illegal dumping, erosion, noxious weed spread, and noise pollution. OHV use is likely the largest threat to many of the Applegate Valley's wild and beautiful places. 

Support the Applegate Valley OHV Monitoring Project
Click here to view my Kickstarter
 

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