If You Care For Salmon and Healthy Forests, the Klamath National Forest Needs to Hear From You!
The Klamath National Forest is making a historic decision that will affect the health of Klamath forests and salmon for decades to come- please weigh in on behalf of healthy rivers and intact forest habitat!
Historic Opportunity to be Heard
Due to the widespread damage that ORVs have caused to streams and forests throughout the country, the Forest Service has been compelled to begin a travel planning process to designate where motorized use is allowed, and where it should be prohibited to protect forest values.
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.
Please take action today by taking a moment to send an automatic letter to the decision makers at the Klamath National Forest asking them to listen to all members of the public, not just the Off-Road Vehicle advocates, in developing the Forest Service's Travel Management Plan.
During its inventory process, the Klamath National Forest identified 470 miles of illegal roads that had been blazed by ORV users. The Forest Service is now proposing to reward their destructive behavior by adding 92 miles of these routes to the formal road system. This means that these routes will be added to the road maintenance backlog and that the public will be on the hook to maintain even more roads in the Klamath River watershed.
Choking Salmon with Roads
Sediment from poorly designed logging roads is damaging critical salmon habitat.
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.
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.