The Siskiyou-Rogue River National Forest is the sight for the first commercial logging incursion in a roadless area since the Bush administration overturned a 2001 Clinton-era rule that offered protections for these pristine lands. Despite millions of comments from Oregonians asking for complete protection for roadless areas and Governor Ted Kulongoski's attempt to block the project in court, loggers entered the Siskiyou National Forest on August 7th and began cutting trees.
Silver Creek Timber Co. purchased Mike's Gulch timber sale, located in the 105,000 acre South Kalmiopsis roadless area of Sikiyou-Rogue River National forest, and is in the process of logging approximately 12 million board feet.
An additional project in the North Kalmiopsis roadless area, the Blackberry timber sale, has been auctioned off by the Forest Service and logging is expected soon.
In 2002, a collection of natural, weather-driven fires known as the "Biscuit fire" burned in a mixed pattern within a 500,000 acre fire perimeter created by government agencies. According to Forest Service scientists, the Biscuit Fire burned in a mosaic pattern, burning some stands of trees, and leaving other areas intact while performing essential ecological functions in this fire dependant ecosystem.
Over time, fire-killed trees transform into legacy trees what scientists call "snags." Legacy trees are critical for the health of Siskiyou forests. While standing, legacy trees provide habitat for a wide variety of animals, including birds and bears. When they eventually fall to the ground they restore and protect soils. When they fall in rivers and streams, they create pools and shelter critical for the renowned salmon and steelhead trout of the wild Siskiyou.
Old-growth reserves are supposed to be set aside as a safety net for sensitive wildlife, plant species and natural processes. The Bush Forest Service is using fire as an excuse to log old-growth reserves in the Siskiyou, punching a hole in the reserve system first established by the Northwest Forest Plan more than ten years ago. Some of the areas proposed for logging include roadless forests not officially inventoried by the Forest Service. The Fiddler Mountain/Babyfoot Lake area, which is important for the local tourism economy, recreation, and is home to plants found nowhere else on earth, is first on the Forest Service old-growth reserve logging list.
The mismanagement of our National Forests through overzealous fire suppression has recently received a great deal of attention. Fire has been an important part of the ecology of the wild Siskiyou for thousands of years. The plants and animals that comprise the ecosystem have evolved along with, and depend, upon the regular occurrence of fire.
Just as the post fire forests of Yellowstone demonstrated Nature's remarkable resiliency, so too will the forests of the Wild Siskiyou but not if they are hauled off in logging trucks.
For additional information contact: