Saturday, January 24, 2015

Nesdbar Timber Sale: Bald Mountain Units

Old-growth Douglas fir trees in unit 28-10C
This week a group of Little Applegate residents joined me for a day of monitoring of the Nedsbar Timber Sale. We drove up Little Applegate Road and up BLM logging roads to the western flank of Bald Mountain. Our goal was to survey units 28-10A, 28-10B, 28-10C, and 28-11B. The units sit in a cluster and border one another making a roughly 65-acre timber harvest area. Together they also support a contiguous swath of old, complex forest. Much of the 65 acres has never been logged — except a narrow strip along the road that was selectively logged many years ago — and the forest still functions as refugia for old-growth dependent species such as the Pacific fisher and northern spotted owl. In fact, the area lies within close proximity to an "owl core," designated to protect a documented spotted owl nesting site. Much of the area was identified in the Bald Lick Timber Sale — which also proposed to cut this area, but did not sell — as nesting, roosting, and foraging habitat (NRF) for the northern spotted owl. The area is more productive than most of the Nedsbar Timber Sale area and the stands support a significant population of old-growth trees. As shown in the photo below, these old-growth trees were often found in groupings or clusters, however, we also found found them in ancient old-growth groves. We took measurements of trees which ranged from 24"-56" in diameter.
Old-growth Douglas-fir trees in unit 28-10B, with trees marked in blue to be removed under the old Bald Lick Timber Sale.
Using an increment borer to determine tree age in unit 28-10A
Units 28-10A, 28-10B, and 28-10C are proposed to be selectively logged to 40% canopy coverage. Unit 28-11B would be logged using a "group selection" cut, meaning trees would be removed in groupings, creating logged-off forest openings. Trees would also be retained in groupings, leaving a broken, patchy canopy. Openings could comprise 25% of the stand, creating fragmentation of important late seral habitat. A small sliver of unit 28-11B near the road is proposed to be thinned to encourage ponderosa pine. Trees up to 48" were found to have been marked for removal in the old Bald Lick Timber Sale mark — which didn't sell and wasn't logged — and it is highly likely that large trees would "need" to be logged in the Nedsbar Timber Sale to reach the proposed 40% canopy coverage. This level of canopy reduction would downgrade spotted owl habitat from nesting, roosting, and foraging habitat to dispersal habitat, a lower quality habitat. This means that forest currently supporting the structural characteristics required to fulfill all portions of the owl's lifecycle will only function to allow owls to "disperse" through the stand in search of more suitable habitat. 
Unit 28-10B
The BLM's proposed prescriptions would also increase fire and fuel hazards in the Bald Mountain area by increasing solar infiltration and generating dense, young growth, creating ladder fuels and heavy fuel loads. This is particularly important for two reasons: First, the stand is surrounded on three sides by dense shrub fields of bitter cherry, hazel, serviceberry, and ocean spray. It is likely that this dense shrubby growth will encroach upon the forest stand after the canopy is reduced through logging. Second, because the BLM recently logged (Bald Lick/White Hat Timber Sale) or is proposing to log a large portion of the area in the Nedsbar Timber Sale, the combined effect would be a drastic increase in fuel loads and subsequent fire hazards in the area. 

The units identified in this post are circled in black. You can see the density of timber sale units in the immediate area, potentially creating a significant increase in fuel hazards due to canopy reduction, increased logging slash, shrubby in growth, and the logging of large, fire resistant trees.

Units units 28-10A, 28-10B, 28-10C, and 28-11B exist within a small 1,500 acre roadless area, supporting dry grasslands, oak woodlands, mixed conifer forests and hardwood stands. The area provides connectivity between the low elevation Dakubetede Roadless Area and the high elevation wildlands in the McDonald Peak Roadless Area.

The Bald Mountain area is also proposed as a portion of the Jack-Ash Trail, a non-motorized trail that would lead from Ashland to Jacksonville, Oregon. The Jack-Ash Trail would also provide access to the Sterling Mine Ditch Trail, a popular non-motorized trail system in the Little Applegate watershed. The Sterling Mine Ditch Trail was recently designated a State Scenic Trail by the state of Oregon. The trail is widely known and loved by residents of the Rogue and Applegate Valleys. Hikers, equestrians and mountain bikers are increasingly taking to this trail for its ecological, scenic, and recreational qualities. The Sterling Mine Ditch Trail and the proposed Jack-Ash Trail have been promoted by a local trail group called the Siskiyou Uplands Trail Association. The trail is being proposed to enhance the thriving tourist economies of both Ashland and Jacksonville.  An undesignated trail, that is proposed to serve as a portion of the Jack-Ash Trail, currently traverses Nedsbar unit 28-10B and would look out over units 28-10A, 28-10C, and 28-11B.
A photo of Bald Mountain from the Little Applegate River canyon. The proposed Jack-Ash Trail will traverse the ridgeline from Bald Mountain through the top of the Nedsbar Timber Sale units circled in red in the photo above.

Unit 28-10B
Those of us who hiked these beautiful stands left with one unanimous feeling: that units 28-10A, 28-10B, 28-10C, and 28-11B should not be logged. In fact, the units should be canceled from the Nedsbar Timber Sale. They are a remnant of complex, old forests that once covered nearly half the Little Applegate Watershed. With less than 15% remaining, it is time for the BLM to reform their timber program, stop logging old-growth trees and support rural communities by reducing fuels, providing recreational opportunities, contributing to the quality of life in rural areas, and learn to be good neighbors.
BLM graph from their 1993 document "Seral Stage Vegetation of the Little Applegate Valley."  Seral stage classes refer to stand age: early seral is younger forest, mid seral is middle-aged forest, and late seral is older forest.
Measuring trees in unit 28-10A
Measuring trees in unit 28-10B

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Nedsbar Public Hike: Units 28-22A, 28-22B, 28-22C

Local residents looking at canopy closure in Unit 28-22B, a regeneration harvest unit.
Today seventeen adults, two young children and one dog braved the cold of the north-facing slopes above the Little Applegate Valley to walk a forest just above private land at the junction of Yale Creek and the Little Applegate River. This forest contains old-growth and late seral forests, however, the BLM has included the area as part of the Nedsbar Timber Sale. The area we walked today included three units: 28-22A, a thinning unit, 28-22B, a regeneration unit and 28-22C, another thinning unit. All three units would be accessed by a proposed new road on the ridgeline above the area. The proposed new road construction and log landings would facilitate cable yarding from the ridge above. Log trucks would then haul the trees from this old-growth stand past many of these residents' homes.

Pointing out the fire resiliency and healthy stand structure of Unit 28-22B
All local residents on the hike agreed that this forested stand would be degraded by logging, which would increase fire hazards for the adjacent private land on Lick Gulch and Yale Creek Roads. The relationship that local people have to this beautiful backyard forest would be compromised by "structural retention regeneration harvest," leaving only 16-25 large trees per acre. Local residents love the forests of the Little Applegate Valley and want to see these older forests protected from irresponsible logging proposals like the Nedsbar Timber Sale. The conclusion was unanimous: units 28-22A, 28-22B, and 28-22C should be dropped from the Nedsbar Timber Sale.

Local residents hiking the fire adapted forest of Unit 28-22B.
More public hikes into Nedsbar Timber Sale units are planned for March, after the BLM releases the Environmental Analysis (EA) for the project. The hikes will coincide with the public comment period, offering residents a firsthand look at BLM logging proposals. Come hike these amazing public lands, advocate on their behalf and get to know them before it may be too late! 

To view my original post about units 28-22A, 28-22B and 28-22C click on the following link: 

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

Nedsbar Timber Sale: Unit 36-20

Unit 36-20 consists of mostly closed canopy, mid-seral forest that provides habitat for the northern spotted owl; the unit is adjacent to an owl nesting site.

Unit 36-20 is located on a west facing slope in the Left Fork of Lick Gulch. The unit is also located within the Trillium Mountain portion of the Dakubetede Roadless Area. The unit begins high on the ridge and drops into the Left Fork of Lick Gulch. Roughly one mile of new road construction is proposed under the BLM's preferred alternative (Alternative 4) to access unit 36-20. The proposed new road construction would be located within approximately 100' of the Left Fork of Lick Gulch and would severely impact riparian function, hydrology, and sediment delivery regimes. A significant portion of the old, currently closed road would also have to be reconstructed  to provide logging access. The reconstruction of this road would also create high levels of sediment and erosion into Lick Gulch. In fact, this very road was recently closed, and blocked by the BLM with a large berm, due to poor location in a riparian reserve and a high risk of sediment delivery in large or small rain events. The new road construction proposed within the riparian reserve of Left Fork Lick Gulch should be canceled and the currently decommissioned road should be allowed to fully heal — it is already on its way — so that the intended restorative effects of road decommissioning can be achieved.

Shown here is the currently closed section of road that is proposed for reconstruction to access unit 36-20. Nearly one mile of new road construction will extend beyond the area in this photo. Both the road construction and road reconstruction will take place within 100' of the stream corridor. 

Unit 36-20 consists of mid to late seral ponderosa pine and Douglas fir. Much of the stand supports a relatively closed canopy with scattered openings colonized by large madrone and manzanita. The northern half of the unit faces southwest and supports a higher percentage of pine, while the southern portion of the unit faces northwest and subsequently supports more Douglas fir. A small ephemeral stream lined in large Douglas fir trees divides the unit into two fairly equal sections. The unit lies directly adjacent to an "owl core," that protects a known spotted owl nesting site. Unit 36-20 supports nesting, roosting, and foraging (NRF) habitat for the northern spotted owl at its eastern end, while the western portion has been classified as "dispersal." Nesting, roosting, and foraging habitat represents intact habitat that can support all life cycles of the northern spotted owl. The "owl core" adjacent to unit 36-20 still supports relatively high levels of nesting, roosting, and foraging habitat, making the suitable habitat and dispersal habitat in unit 36-20 that much more important.

The BLM is proposing that the unit be treated with a "Selective Thinning Ponderosa Pine 40%" prescription, meaning that forests in the area will be reduced to 40% canopy closure. This would downgrade the unit's NRF habitat and disturb habitat conditions adjacent to a known owl nesting site. 40% is the lowest allowable canopy closure required within spotted owl habitat.

Although portions of the unit could be thinned with good results, such an outcome depends upon successful and responsible implementation. Based on the outcome of previous timber sales in the area, many in the community are nervous. 

On the ridgeline above unit 36-20 are a number of units from the recent O'Lickety Timber Sale, including unit 64-1 where logging occurred in what was NRF habitat for the spotted owl. These units provide a stark example of what the BLM intends for unit 36-20. Although the O'Lickety Timber Sale was intended to maintain habitat for the spotted owl, numerous units have been documented to have been over-cut, downgrading northern spotted owl habitat from NRF to dispersal or from dispersal to non-habitat. Canopy closure in the O'Lickety Timber Sale was to be maintained at a minimum of 40% and has been documented to have been reduced to as low as 28% in some units. The yarding corridors in the O'Lickety units break the forest into vertical swaths of heavily thinned trees, divided by soil churned and gouged by heavy logs as they were dragged against the slope and up to a log landing. Many large, old trees were removed while many trees retained were badly damaged by yarding operations.

Unit 64-1 in the O'Lickety Timber Sale. After this unit was  logged, the forested stand was "downgraded" from nesting, roosting and foraging habitat for the northern spotted owl, to dispersal habitat, a lower quality habitat. This means that forest once considered suitable for the entire lifecycle of the spotted owl  currently provides only the opportunity for "dispersal" through the area.  

Those of us who live in the Applegate Valley and who will have to live with the outcome of the Nedsbar Timber Sale are concerned. It is our homes that will be threatened with increased fuel hazards; it is our quality of life that will be disrupted; it is our views, water quality, wildlife habitat and forests that will be degraded and abused. Due to the persistent problem of over-cutting and downgrading spotted owl habitat by the Medford District BLM, all Nedsbar units in NRF habitat should be canceled, including unit 36-20. Likewise, all new road construction should be canceled, especially new road construction within riparian reserves, like the road proposed on the Left Fork of Lick Gulch.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

January 2015 Nedsbar Photo Essay

The good folks from Speak for the Trees and Birch Creek Arts & Ecology Center, Little Applegate Valley based non-profits, teamed up with the Klamath Forest Alliance and the Siskiyou Crest Blog to survey units last weekend. Speak for the Trees board members are pictured here in Nedsbar Timber Sale unit 17-12 near Chelsea Spring up Rush Creek, a tributary of the Little Applegate River. The unit is proposed by the BLM as "group selection 40%," meaning the stand will be thinned to 40% canopy coverage by removing groupings of trees. The prescription calls for creating half-acre clearings that should not exceed 25% of the stand. The large Douglas fir tree in the photo was marked for removal in the BLM's previous Bald Lick Timber Sale, which did not sell and has now been reworked into the current Nedsbar Timber Sale.

 Pictured here is Chelsea Spring in the Rush Creek watershed. Chelsea Spring is surrounded by the proposed Nedsbar Timber Sale unit 17-12. The site is a historic stopping point along an old pack trail that traverses the unit. The trail is proposed as a spur of the Jack-Ash Trail and would be impacted by commercial logging. 

Unit 25-24 above the Little Applegate River. The unit is structurally and compositionally diverse and includes a variety of age classes, including old-growth trees, mature trees, and young pole stands. The unit is proposed as a group selection unit that will be logged utilizing helicopters to yard commercial material. According to BLM prescriptions the "principal purpose of a group selection treatment is to create structural diversity among stands that are homogenous in appearance or have a one layer overstory." Unit 25-24 is already structurally diverse, supports a multi-layered overstory and a patchy canopy of old-growth trees and large, old snags. Small gulches run through the unit supporting shrubby growth of ocean spray, hazel, and Oregon grape. Located on a north slope, the unit is more productive and moist than much of the dry forest targeted for logging in the Nedsbar Timber Sale.

A grouping of large, old-growth trees in unit 25-24. Many of the large overstory trees show the signs of historic fire and most large, old trees grow in fire adapted "clump formation," meaning the remnant old-growth trees exist in groupings of trees that survived the last wildfire. The fire adapted trees often support "cat faces," such as the deep hollow or cavity shown in this picture. These cavities create high quality wildlife habitat, including denning habitat for the Pacific fisher, currently a candidate for protection as an threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. Northern California and Southern Oregon support the largest and most stable populations of Pacific fisher left in western North America. 

Our youngest Community Monitoring Project volunteer in unit 36-23. The unit is at the headwaters of Lick Gulch and is nesting, roosting, and foraging habitat for the northern spotted owl. It is also adjacent to an "owl core" designated to protect a spotted owl nesting site. Roughly one-half mile of new road construction is proposed to provide access to the unit for logging. The unit is proposed to be treated utilizing a Selective Thinning Ponderosa pine 40% prescription. 

Dense pole stands in unit 19-20B. The unit is proposed to be treated utilizing a Selective Thinning/ Douglas Fir 40% prescription, meaning the stand will be thinned to 40% canopy closure. There is concern that reducing such stands to 40% canopy closure will increase fuel loads adjacent to rural homes on Little Applegate Road.

 Community Monitoring Project volunteers found an undesignated hiking trail in unit 19-20B. The unit consists of dense, closed canopy stands of Douglas fir mixed with stands of Pacific madrone.

Community Monitoring volunteers in unit 23-31 on "Cinnabar Ridge." The unit is proposed for Selective Thinning to 40%-50% canopy closure.

A dense stand of Douglas fir with remnant old-growth pine in unit 23-30 on "Cinnabar Ridge." BLM prescriptions in this unit call for a thinning to 40%-50% canopy closure.

Unit 34-30 in the Boaz Mountain Roadless Area, a small unroaded area providing connectivity between the Buncom and Little Greyback Roadless Areas. This large unit is proposed to be treated with a group selection prescription, which would reduce canopy closure to 40%.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Nedsbar Community Monitoring Program: Unit 27-20 and 26-20

The western portion of unit 27-20 is an open stand of large, old Douglas fir trees. The stand supports high quality wildlife habitat, including habitat for the northern spotted owl and Pacific fisher. The stand also supports naturally fire resilient stand conditions.

Unit 27-20
The BLM's Nedsbar Timber Sale identifies unit 27-20 as a "structural retention ponderosa pine 40%" unit, meaning the unit will be thinned to roughly 40% canopy coverage. The BLM has also proposed roughly one mile of new road construction to provide access to both unit 27-20 and nearby unit 26-20. Both units, and the entire length of proposed new road construction, are within the Dakubetede Roadless Area.

The Dakubetede Roadless Area is one of the largest and most intact areas in the foothills of the eastern Siskiyou Mountains, and it is also one of the most biologically rich areas in the Applegate Valley. The Dakubetede Roadless Area lies within a vital connectivity corridor linking low elevation wildlands to the Siskiyou Crest. The Dakubetede Roadless Area is well known for non-motorized outdoor recreation due to the location of the Sterling Ditch Trail, which traverses the center of this beautiful roadless area. The trail was recently designated an Oregon State Scenic Trail and is proposed to serve as a portion of the Jack-Ash trail that would link the communities of Jacksonville and Ashland with a beautiful non-motorized trail. The Sterling Ditch Trail has become increasingly popular in recent years and is a vital asset to the locally burgeoning outdoor recreation and tourism economy. A local trails group called the Siskiyou Upland Trails Association has organized to promote the Jack-Ash Trail and maintain an interconnected trail system centered on the Sterling Ditch Trail.

The proposed new road construction, and nearly all the units proposed for logging in the Nedsbar Timber Sale (including unit 27-20 and 26-20), would be visible from the Sterling Ditch Trail and the surrounding trail system. These trails are known for their spectacular views across what the BLM now calls the Nedsbar Planning Area, an area that would be impacted with over 100 logging units. Community Monitoring Project volunteers visited a few of those units this weekend, the most troubling was unit 27-20.

During the timber sale planning stage the BLM proposes multiple alternatives to consider in their Environmental Analysis (EA), due sometime in March, 2015. Currently, the BLM's preferred alternative (Alternative 4), includes numerous sections of new road construction deemed necessary to facilitate logging the steep and isolated units scattered across the Little Applegate Valley. If Alternative 4  is approved, a new road would be built from Lick Gulch and into the Trillium Mountain portion of the Dakubetede Roadless Area. The new road construction would provide access for logging trucks and yarding equipment for units 27-20 and 26-20. This new road would create permanent impacts to the region's roadless/wilderness values, intact oak woodlands, native plant communities, wildlife, hydrology and scenic value.

Unit 27-20 is found within the Trillium Mountain portion of the Dakubetede Roadless Area.

Unit 27-20 is found on a north facing slope above the Little Applegate River on a long, dry ridge dropping west from Trillium Mountain to the mouth of Lick Gulch. The unit, like so many others in the Nedsbar Timber Sale, is an isolated stand of trees surrounded by non-forest plant communities, namely white oak woodland and chaparral. This isolated stand of late seral forest supports many trees between two and four feet in diameter. The stand contains many trees of large stature, with complex branch structure, deeply furrowed bark, and a high canopy, making the trees not only excellent wildlife habitat, but also highly fire resistant. Fuel loads in the stand are minimal, with much of the understory consisting of large moss beds, Oregon grape, and small amounts of native grass.

Unit 27-20
The canopy is dominated by large, well-spaced trees, ranging from 75%-85% canopy closure. The unit represents nesting, roosting and foraging habitat for the northern spotted owl. It is also excellent habitat for the Pacific fisher, a species that is currently a candidate for listing as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The unit also offers important thermal cover for the abundant local wildlife to escape severe cold in winter and intense heat in summer, beneath the shelter of forest canopy. Reduction of canopy closure to 40% in this stand will downgrade existing spotted owl habitat and reduce the ability of the stand to provide thermal cover.

The western portion of the unit is mostly Douglas fir and madrone, including large, widely spaced trees and very minimal fuel loads. Groves of old-growth fir characterize the western portion of the unit. Below is a video showing conditions in unit 27-20.

The eastern portion of unit 27-20 supports a stand of mature ponderosa pine amongst groves of late to mid seral Douglas fir. The canopy is closed and understory fuels very minimal, consisting of moss beds, pine needles, and scattered native bunchgrass.

Unit 26-20
Unit 26-20 is directly east of unit 27-20 and would be accessed by the same new road construction. Much like unit 27-20, the unit extends from the roadless ridgeline west of Trillium Mountain to a private residential property in the Little Applegate Canyon below. The unit is an unmanaged, natural stand, meaning it has never been logged. The BLM has identified the unit as a "structural retention douglas fir 40%" unit, meaning canopy closure will be reduced to 40%.

Much of unit 26-20 consists of dense, mostly mid seral Douglas fir with closed canopy conditions. The unit currently supports nesting, roosting, and foraging habitat for the northern spotted owl. The canopy closure has also suppressed understory shrub development, keeping ladder and understory fuels minimal. Some mortality has begun to effect stand development, creating important snag habitat and downed woody debris.

The upper portion of the unit, near the ridgeline, is more open, with a well established understory of native grass. Groves of open-grown Douglas fir and ponderosa pine grow amongst a few scattered oak trees. The stand structure is open, naturally fire resilient and diverse.

The upper portion of unit 26-20 supports an open structured forest that needs no thinning whatsoever. Naturally fire resilient stands such as these should be protected and retained and are not in need of "restoration" or "density management" thinning. 

Thinning these stands to 40% canopy closure will create increased light infiltration, triggering the development of shrubby understory species and an increased fire risk to the nearby residential properties in the Little Applegate Valley. It will also impact habitat for the northern spotted owl and Pacific fisher. Units 27-20 and 26-20 should be canceled to protect the biological and recreational values of the Dakubetede Roadless Area and the viewshed of the Sterling Ditch Trail. 

Below is a video of the proposed new road development in the Dakubetede Roadless Area.

Other YouTube video links of units 27-20 are listed below.  

East side of unit 27-20

West side of unit 27-20 video 2

The Siskiyou Crest Blog and Klamath Forest Alliance have joined forces to facilitate the Nedsbar Community Monitoring Program. Although much progress has been made and 28 units have been visited by community members, approximately 75 units still need to be visited and reviewed. Many more will likely contain old-growth characteristics and fire resilient stand conditions. These units must be identified, documented, and publicized if we are to be successful in protecting some of the last and best low elevation forests on Medford District BLM lands. Please consider donating to the project by making a tax deductable donation to the Klamath Forest Alliance. Donations will fund on-the-ground monitoring of the Nedsbar Timber Sale with the intent to inform the public, document the potential impacts, generate high quality public comments, and ultimately STOP THE NEDSBAR TIMBER SALE. 

Contribute to the Nedsbar Community Monitoring Program

Donate online or by mail.
Klamath Forest Alliance
PO BOX 21 
Orleans, CA 95556

(Please specify that your donation is for the Nedsbar Timber Sale)

Thursday, January 1, 2015


Pacific fisher (Pekania pennanti)  Photo courtesy of The Center for Biological Diversity

Happy New Year! 
If you are a person who makes New Year's resolutions, please consider making a resolution for 2015 to push for the fisher to be listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.

Unlike some other wild places, the Pacific fisher was never extirpated from the Klamath-Siskiyou Mountains. We may have lost grizzlies, wolves, wolverines, and condors, to name a few, but we are very lucky to live in a place that still has native genetic stock of fisher. Living at the base of the Siskiyou Crest it is not uncommon for me to see fishers as I explore the canyon where I live. Many other rural folks living in the Siskiyous have reported fisher sightings to me as well: Thompson Creek, Carberry Creek, Elliott Creek, Little Applegate River, Yale Creek, Greyback Mountain, Mt. Ashland. These little predators are elusive and it always feels special to catch a glimpse of one. Have you seen fishers in the Klamath-Siskiyou Mountains? 

Unfortunately there are many threats to the fisher that still place their population at risk. The U.S Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to list as threatened the West Coast distinct population segment of fisher under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Public comments are now being accepted for this proposal and a decision will be made within a year. 

View the U.S. Fish and Wildlife's webpage regarding the proposed listing of fisher as a threatened species.  

Update: Service Announces 30-day Extension for Public Comments on West Coast Fisher Proposal

YREKA, Calif.-- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is extending the public comment period on its proposal to list the West Coast population of fisher as threatened under the Endangered Species Act by 30 days. The new comment deadline will be February 5, 2015. The original comment period was open from Oct. 7 through January 5, 2015. Specific guidance on types of information the Service is seeking and for submitting public comments can be found in the October 7, 2014 Federal Register notice at (search for key word "fisher").

Comments and information can be submitted by one of the following methods: 
  • Electronically at In the Search box, enter FWS-R8-ES-201-0041. You may submit information by clicking on "Comment Now." 
  • Paper copy, via the U.S. mail or hand delivery, to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R8-ES-2014-0041, Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, MS: BPHC, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041-3803.

Historic and current range of the West Coast Distinct Population Segment (DPS) of fisher

The following is an excerpt from The Siskiyou Crest: Hikes, History & Ecology by Luke Ruediger.

"The Pacific fisher is a fairly small, but exceptionally fierce carnivorous mammal of the deep forest. Once abundant, it has suffered greatly due to habitat loss in the ancient forests it calls home. The fisher inhabits intact forests, especially along riparian areas at low-to mid-elevations throughout the state, yet it is found from the canyon bottoms to the high crest in the Siskiyou Mountains. Virtually extinct in Oregon not long ago, small remnant populations of fisher managed to survive in the wilds of the Siskiyous, which represents the only native population in the state. Populations in the Cascade Mountains and Coast Range have been estimated to be as low as 50 individuals and are the result of reintroductions from B.C. and Minnesota (Drew 1351-1362). There are relatively healthy populations of Pacific fisher, especially in the forested upper portions of the Applegate and Illinois watersheds. In California, native populations exist only in the adjacent Klamath Mountains of Northern California and the Sierra Nevada. Population estimates in northwestern California and southwestern Oregon are thought to be between 1,000 and 2,000 individuals (USFS - Ashland Forest Resiliency FEIS, F-29).

            Fishers are elusive; it is easier to get a photo with a game camera, as seen here.                   (Photo: USFWS
The Pacific fisher appears to require overhead cover and shows a tendency to hunt in thickets, among windthrow and downed woody debris. The fisher’s diverse diet consists of squirrels, rabbits, mice, voles, owls, woodpeckers, porcupine, songbirds, and carrion. Preferred denning sites are strongly associated with hollow snags and downed wood in mature forest, as well as the large, hollow boles of hardwood species throughout the mixed conifer forests of the Klamath-Siskiyou (USFS, UAR-EA, III-85-86). The home range of the Pacific fisher can vary between one to four and a half square miles.
If this species is to persist in the mountains of the West, its ancient forest habitat must be protected. The Siskiyous’ remaining roadless areas would offer prime habitat if they were placed off-limits to resource extraction, thus ensuring the survival of Oregon’s only native population of Pacific fisher."

Click on the link below to read the Center for Biological Diversity's history of environmental organizations' efforts to get the fisher listed on the Endangered Species List.

Please write a comment in favor of listing the fisher as a threatened species!
Photo: USFWS