Old-growth tree logged in Evans Gem sale, a unit of the Evans Creek Project. Photo credit: Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center
Why this forest is special
The Bureau of Land Management Medford District is where the Klamath and Cascade mountain ranges meet, resulting in extraordinary biological diversity. Many plant species here, including the Brewers spruce tree, are found nowhere else on Earth. The BLM lands are in the watershed of the Rogue River, renowned for fly fishing and whitewater boating. These public forests harbor some of the last important stands of large, old trees and provide wildlife refugia and habitat connectivity across this mixed-ownership landscape.
Evans Creek Project
The BLM is proposing commercial logging on 1,131 acres, including 82 acres of clearcuts. The Evans Creek watershed is a significant salmon-spawning area, and some trees in the project area are 150 to 200 years old. Trees up to 40 inches in diameter are proposed for logging. The BLM is declassifying 732 acres of northern spotted owl habitat so it can be logged.
Carbon storage and biodiversity
The Evans Creek watershed is home to threatened northern spotted owls, who are highly dependent on mature forest habitat. About 181 miles of streams provide habitat for the Southern Oregon/Northern California unit of coho salmon, a threatened fish protected under the Endangered Species Act. The streams in the watershed also support several other native fish populations, including Chinook salmon, steelhead and Klamath small-scale sucker, which all could be harmed by runoff and siltation from logging operations. The amount of carbon storage loss from this sale is significant. In just one timber unit, Evan’s Gem, almost 20,000 trees with an average diameter of more than 17 inches were cut.
Why these trees should remain standing
The BLM Medford District is interspersed with private industrial timber lands that are clearcut about every 40 to 60 years. These remaining blocks of mature and old-growth habitat are needed for northern spotted owls, whose populations are declining largely because so much mature and old-growth habitat has been lost. These large trees and mature stands are generally resistant to natural disturbance, such as wildfire.
The future of mature and old-growth trees in BLM Medford District
Across the range of the northern spotted owl in western Oregon BLM forests, about 1 million acres of mature and old-growth trees are at risk of being logged. In the BLM Medford District, tens of thousands of acres of mature and old-growth trees are at immediate risk from several logging projects.
The project was approved in 2019 and logging was mostly complete by end of summer 2022. In September 2022 a federal judge found that the Evans Creek and the nearby Poor Windy old-growth sales were illegally harming northern spotted owl habitat.
Local contact: Alexi Lovechio, Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center, Alexi@kswild.org