FCC MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: Klamath Forest Alliance

Three mountain lakes
The high country of the Trinity Alps at the headwaters of the Scott River in the eastern Klamath-Siskiyou Mountains

Who is Klamath Forest Alliance?

For over 30 years the Klamath Forest Alliance (KFA) has worked to protect the wildlife and watersheds of the Klamath-Siskiyou Mountains in northern California and southwestern Oregon. They combine passionate advocacy, deep knowledge of the land, on-the-ground public land monitoring, community organizing, grassroots environmental activism and litigation to protect biodiversity and habitat connectivity from the Yolla Bolly Mountains to the Siskiyou Crest. KFA works with residents, conservation allies, and the area’s indigenous tribes to support biodiversity, wildlife, watersheds, and indigenous cultural uses on these precious public lands.

What do they do?

They currently run two field offices; the Klamath Mountains Field Office in northern California run by Executive Director, Kimberly Baker; and the Siskiyou Mountains Field Office in southwestern Oregon run by Conservation Director, Luke Ruediger. Both offices focus heavily on issues surrounding forest management, biodiversity and wildfire. They work to address project and policy level concerns through extensive on-the-ground monitoring of federal timber sales in these areas.

Through this monitoring they document the impact and/or potential impact of federal land logging practices and timber sales. They then publicize their findings (often on the siskiyoucrest.com and their soon to be updated website at klamathforestalliance.org) and use this information to produce detailed, site specific, science-based, public comments, administrative protests, objections, appeals, litigation and monitoring reports.

In recent years, they have saved many thousands of acres of mature and/or old-growth forests from commercial logging on federal lands as climate refugia, as habitat for imperiled species, and for the abundant carbon they naturally store in large living trees, large dead standing snags, downed logs and forest soils.

Why is the Klamath-Siskiyou Important?

Take a 200 mile walking tour of the Siskiyou Crest to witness the awe and unique beauty of this region.

 Tucked into the remote borderlands of southern Oregon and northern California, the Klamath-Siskiyou Mountains are mostly undeveloped, incredibly wild and largely inaccessible. This tangled knot of rocky ridges and deep-forested canyons is transitional in terms of both climate and vegetation and is the axis for biodiversity on the West Coast. Here, in the Klamath-Siskiyou, the fog drenched redwoods and temperate rain forests of coastal Oregon and northern California collide with the western most vestige of high desert vegetation creeping in from the arid Great Basin to the east. It is also here, in the Klamath-Siskiyou that the forests of the Pacific Northwest march down the Oregon Coast Range and Cascade Crest mingling with the dry mixed conifer forests, oak woodlands and chaparral that characterize the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the Southern Cascade Mountains, the Central Valley and the arid California Coast Range.

The region contains an incredible variety of plant species and habitat types, creating some of the most diverse and unique plant communities in North America and some of the most diverse conifer forests in the world. Although the area represents only 15 percent of California’s landmass, the range contains 65% of the state’s native plant species. Known for its unusual conifer diversity, the Klamath-Siskiyou contains 35 species of conifers, many surviving in niches at the edge of their prevailing range, while others are found nowhere else on the face of the earth. This rich conifer diversity is matched by an incredible variety of plant communities, including many range extensions and endemic species found only in Klamath-Siskiyou Mountains.

stream surrounded by cliffs
KFA and partners are supporting Wild and Scenic River designation on many streams in the Siskiyou Mountains including the Middle Fork Applegate River on the north slope of the Siskiyou Crest

Recent Projects:

  • Medford District BLM forests

KFA has been working for many years to oppose mature and old growth logging on the Medford District BLM in southwestern Oregon. In the past ten years, thousands of acres have been saved though their efforts, but thousands of acres continually remain on the chopping block and their work continues.

Current projects includes the Rogue Gold Timber Sale near Rogue River, Oregon, the Bear Grub Timber Sale in the Applegate Valley, the Late Mungers Timber Sale and the Penn Butte Timber Sale above Williams, Oregon, and the IVM Project which proposes heavy industrial logging on up to 20,000 acres of LSR forest over the next ten years throughout southwestern Oregon.

The IVM Project proposes to approve these projects while eliminating numerous important public involvement opportunities and nearly all requirements for a transparent, site specific, scientific analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). This would allow the BLM to fully design timber sales in old forest habitats and designated LSR forests, mark the trees for removal, and tentatively approve the project internally, before disclosing the project to the public or accepting public comment. The IVM Project was also identified in a recent report titled, Worth more standing, as one of the ten worst federal land logging projects in the country due to its impacts to watersheds, wildlife, biodiversity and climate resilience.

  • Klamath National Forest

One of the wildest and most remote watersheds on the West Coast, the mid-Klamath River watershed supports beautiful old forests, threatened fisheries, abundant roadless areas and some of the most intact wilderness habitat in the region, however the Forest Service regularly threatens these wild places through large-scale timber sales and extensive post-fire logging.

Currently they are working to oppose numerous post-fire logging projects and “green” tree logging projects in the remote Salmon River watershed. One timber sale, called the Bear Country Project would log 4,195 acres, including commercial logging units in the Wild and Scenic River corridors of both the North Fork and South Fork Salmon River watersheds. 3,715 acres of unlogged mature and old-growth forest is targeted in this timber sale. The Bear Country Timber Sale was recently identified in Worth more standing, as one of the ten worst federal land logging projects in the country due to its impacts to watersheds, wildlife, biodiversity and climate resilience.

  • Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest

The Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest contains both the Siskiyou Crest and Wild Rivers region. The Siskiyou Crest is a regionally important connectivity corridor and the only transverse range in the Pacific Northwest, running east to west connecting the Coast Range to the Cascade Mountains. This area contains rare plant populations, large populations of the Pacific fisher, expansive mixed conifer forests and incredible high country. The Wild Rivers area contains some of the most incredible and remote river canyons and wild tributary streams in the country. Both areas are known for their extreme botanical diversity and vast roadless habitats.

KFA’s on-the-ground monitoring efforts recently discovered an undocumented northern spotted owl nesting site in the Shasta-Agness Timber Sale on the lower Rogue River, forcing the agency to drop over 600 acres of commercial logging treatments. We also recently sued the Forest Service and forced them to withdraw the Slater Fire Re-entry Project, a massive post-fire roadside logging proposal at the headwaters of the Illinois River near the Red Buttes and Siskiyou Wilderness Areas.

  • Wild and Scenic River Protections

The Klamath-Siskiyou bioregion already contains the largest concentration of Wild and Scenic Rivers in the continental United States, but thousands of stream miles throughout the region support the Outstandingly Remarkable Values (ORVs) required for Wild and Scenic River designation. KFA is working with regional partners to make sure that, either through congressional acts or forest plan revisions, these rivers get the protection they deserve. Currently, the majority of their nominations have been introduced into legislation titled the River Democracy Act.

Mountain photo collage
The Beauty Found in the Klamath-Siskiyou Mountains