Forest stand proposed for clear cutting near Copper Butte and Cook and Green Pass. Photo compliments of Luke Ruediger
Action Alert! The Klamath National Forest (KNF) is proposing to eviscerate one of the most important wildlife corridors and backcountry areas in California. The Siskiyou Crest is targeted for massive clearcut post-fire logging. The highly controversial and inappropriately named Seiad-Horse Risk Reduction Project is currently in scoping and is aimed at 2,000 contiguous acres of some of the most biologically diverse forests in the world.
As the Abney Fire moved over the border to California, fire crews lit backburns during high winds that blew up and sent the flames over fire lines on the Pacific Crest Trail and into Seiad and Horse Creeks, tributaries to the Klamath River. The fire then grew and burned intensely through plantations that were created after the 1987 fires, which in turn lit off adjacent old growth forest stands. Now the KNF is working to make the same mistakes again, thirty years later.
Project units are just an eighth of a mile from the Pacific Crest Trail, in an area that provides vital wildlife habitat connectivity between the Condrey Mountain and Kangaroo Roadless Areas. The entire project is also within Late Successional Reserves, which are designated to protect and restore old growth forest ecosystems. By creating vast swaths of clearcuts the forest service would be destroying complex late and early seral habitat while increasing future fire severity, endangering threatened species and landscape connectivity and harming water quality and streams that are critical to the survival of wild salmon.
Forty-one miles of roadside hazard logging is also proposed, which consists of live and green trees. This includes the poorly maintained Bee Camp Road, which is technically within the Kangaroo Roadless Area. This road should not be subjected to logging and should be closed to all motorized use.
This region has suffered from fire suppression impacts and extreme industrial logging in recent years. Together with the Westside and Horse Creek “salvage” projects the KNF continues to plan post-fire projects that are massive and controversial and that will set back ecosystem processes for decades if not longer. As it stands, it is likely that the combined effects of post-fire logging on the KNF and nearby private lands will result in a mortality sink for northern spotted owls and move the entire Siskiyou Crest area toward a landscape trap where fire regimes, water quality, ecological integrity and resilience and biodiversity are greatly diminished.