THE FOREST SERVICE’S PROPOSALWILL IMPACT AN IMPORTANT ROADLESS AREA, THREATEN RARE PLANTS AND ANIMALS AND INCREASE SEDIMENTATION IN ASHLAND’S MUNICIPAL WATERSHED
CLICK HERE TO SEND YOUR COMMENTS TODAY!!!!
DEADLINE IS MAY 10TH!!
The Forest Service and Mt. Ashland continue to pursue an expansion in the Middle Branch that would clearcut the equivalent of 70 football fields in the McDonald Peak Roadless Area and would occur in virgin old growth forest that is habitat for many rare plants and animals. Much of the clearcutting would occur on very unstable slopes that are subject to landslides. And, all of this would occur in the City of Ashland’s municipal watershed. The new Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement was released by the Forest Service in March.
Back in 2006, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals stopped the project because it violated federal laws. Now, despite nothing more than additional analysis, the FS is back pushing the same plan that was rejected by the 9th Circuit.
While the Sierra Club supports the Ski Area and some form of expansion, we do not support expansion in the scenic, fragile and wild Middle Branch, which is part of the McDonald Peak Roadless Area. Instead, we support the Community Alternative (CA). The CA would build many of the new amenities sought by the Ski Area, but it would not impact the fragile springs, wetlands, seeps and creeks that make up the headwaters of the Middle Branch of the East Fork of Ashland Creek nor the rare plants and animals that call it home.
The Sierra Club recommends that you make the following comments to the Forest Service:
* Clearcutting an area the size of 70 football fields in a municipal watershed is never a good idea. The soils of Mt. Ashland are well known to be very unstable. Reeder Reservoir already takes in a high volume of sediment annually.
* Roadless Area. The McDonald Peak Roadless Area is 10,000 acres of wilderness within a few miles of Ashland. The proposed expansion would clearcut 70 acres and fragment up to 500 acres of the Roadless Area. Combined with other projects proposed in the roadless area, nearly 20% of the MPRA would be impacted. If ski expansion is approved, Ashland will have lost a golden opportunity to protect wilderness quality public lands in its own backyard.
* Global Warming. Despite at least two recent scientific studies that predict difficult circumstances for snowfall on Mt. Ashland (more rain and less snow), the FS has refused to analyze the impact of global warming on the proposed expansion. Much of the expansion area is lower in elevation and is subject to lack of snow.
* Sedimentation. Sedimentation to the City’s Reeder Reservoir will increase, requiring the City to dredge the reservoir more frequently. Each large scale dredging costs the City about $600,000.
* Master Plan outdated. The Master Plan for the proposed ski expansion was approved in 1991 – nearly 20 years ago. Things were different 20 years ago – global warming was not well known or verified, the value of the forest as a carbon sink was not considered, and there was no knowledge of the rare plants and animals that inhabit the Middle Branch. The values of the general population have changed. Wilderness has a much higher value today. The Forest Service’s own rules state that this document is too old.
* Rare Plants and Animals threatened. The expansion area is replete with rare plants and animals including the endangered Northern spotted owl, Pacific fisher, Engelmann spruce, Mt. Ashland lupine, Henderson’s horkelia, great gray owl, Arctic blue butterfly and many, many more. All will be negatively impacted by the proposal.
* The Rogue Group Sierra Club supports the Community Alternative. In 2004, a group of citizens put forth the Community Alternative. The FS has refused to analyze this idea. The Rogue Group supports the Community Alternative. It is much less expensive than the expansion, as proposed, and will protect the fragile Middle Branch and McDonald Peak Roadless Area from 70 acres of clearcuts.
PLEASE WRITE YOUR OWN PERSONAL COMMENTS BY THE MAY 10TH DEADLINE!!
Or, Send your written comments to:
Scott Conroy, Forest Supervisor
C/O Steve Johnson
Ashland Ranger District
645 Washington St. Ashland, OR 97520
IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO VOLUNTEER TO HELP SAVE MT. ASHLAND, PLEASE CONTACT TOM DIMITRE AT 541-890-5022.