Stand Up For the Wildlands and Salmon of the Klamath!
The Klamath National Forest is determining which areas of the Forest should be open to Off-Road Vehicles and which areas should be protected.
Along with all National Forests across the country, the Klamath National Forest is currently undergoing a process that will determine which roads remain open for motorized recreation and which areas will be closed. This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity gives the public a chance to speak up for the watershed, salmon, botanical and non-motorized recreation values of this outstanding public resource, and truly make a difference.
Choking Salmon with Roads
The Klamath National Forest currently has well over 2,600 miles of open roads criss-crossing the forests and watersheds of these valuable public lands. This is more than double the amount of roading that the Forest Service can afford to safely and responsibly manage. Poorly maintained logging roads are the primary source of sediment harming salmon and steelhead habitat in the Klamath Forest.
“The existing road system has been identified as the primary source of sediment to stream channels within the watershed…The high density of open roads in the watershed contributes to habitat fragmentation and disturbance to wildlife.”
-Beaver Creek Ecosystem Analysis, Klamath National Forest (April 1996, Page 6-2).
Astoundingly, as part of its Travel Management Planning, the Forest Service is now proposing to add 92 miles of illegally created “user routes” to its already bloated road system. In other words, the Forest Service is responding to its inability to manage its existing road system by adding yet more roads to that system.
Pacific Salmon on the Brink
Many people are familiar with the crash of the wild Atlantic salmon fishery since its dramatic plunge took place only a few decades ago. Today we have a chance to seal a different fate for wild Pacific salmon, which are swimming in the same direction as their Atlantic relatives. Spanning the Pacific Rim from South Korea and Russia to Alaska and California, salmon are cultural, ecological and economic icons.
Today, scientists estimate that 23% of Pacific salmon stocks are at moderate or high risk of extinction. The distribution of Pacific salmon is shrinking at the southern edge of its range, which is the Klamath-Siskiyou region. Compounded by the effects of climate change, we must act broadly and quickly if we want to maintain salmon in California and southern Oregon.
While this trend is alarming, we have a chance to turn the ship around. The window of recovery for imperiled species is quite narrow and it is very difficult to turn the tides once a species is already in a high-risk category. That is why we must take the Atlantic salmon example and act now to avoid a similar catastrophic crash. We must take every opportunity we have to get ahead of the ball and protect remaining habitat for these legendary creatures. Minimizing and eliminating unnecessary roads on the Klamath National Forest is an important piece of the salmon recovery puzzle.
Take Action Today
Please take a moment to write a note to the planners in the Klamath National Forest asking them to:
1. Identify roads located in stream-side riparian reserves and key salmon watersheds for decommissioning;
2. Strive to establish an economically sustainable road system by closing at least as many roads as they intend to add to the system;
3. Listen to all members of the public, not just the Off-Road Vehicle advocates, in developing the Forest Service's Travel Management Plan.
Letters can be sent to:
Klamath National Forest
1312 Fairlane Road
Yreka, CA 96097