Klamath National Forest, California | Bear Country Project


Unit 125 of the Bear Country Timber Sale, Eddy Gulch Late Successional Reserve Photo credit: Luke Ruediger, Klamath Forest Alliance


Why this forest is special

The Salmon River watershed is one of the most intact, remote ecosystems in the Klamath-Siskiyou ecoregion and harbors one of the most spectacular Wild and Scenic rivers in the country. It also contains important anadromous fish habitat, the only remaining spring Chinook runs and the last completely wild salmon and steelhead runs in the Klamath River watershed. The area proposed for logging is extremely remote, highly biodiverse, and an important wildlife connectivity corridor between the Trinity Alps and Russian wilderness areas.

Bear Country Project

The Bear Country Project proposes to log old forests along the North and South Fork Salmon rivers in Northern California. The project includes 4,195 acres of commercial logging, including 3,704 acres in natural unlogged stands and 2,330 acres of mature trees, many between 24 and 40-plus inches in diameter. The logging project would reduce the tree canopy cover to as low as 30%. Only 610 acres of plantations, representing the area’s worst fire risks, will be thinned.

Carbon and biodiversity

The Bear Country Project targets old forests at nearly four times the rate of plantation stands, disproportionately harming carbon storage and future sequestration capacity. Animals such as the threatened northern spotted owls, pileated woodpeckers, American martens and Pacific fishers are dependent on these old forest habitats for nesting, roosting and denning. The project would remove 235 acres of nesting, roosting and foraging habitat for northern spotted owls and 701 acres of dispersal habitat for young fledgling owls. Deer, elk, black bears, Del Norte salamanders and ringtail cats live here. These old forests have been identified as important connectivity habitats.

Why these trees should remain standing

The Forest Service claims the Bear Country Project will promote forest health and resilience, reduce wildfire risk and promote forest and habitat diversity. But the level and location of the proposed logging conflicts with these claims and in many cases would have the opposite effect. The project will degrade and remove the very forest conditions the Forest Service claims it wants to protect. These older forests, including large snags, downed wood and living trees, will take centuries to recover. Removing large trees and reducing canopy opens the forest to more sunlight, hot, dry winds, and higher temperatures, which may increase wildfire risk.


The future of mature and old-growth trees in the Klamath National Forest

The Klamath National Forest contains some of the most intact and isolated forest habitats remaining on the West Coast and is often targeted for industrial logging by federal land managers. In the last few years agency timber planners have proposed three major timber sales in some of the last occupied northern spotted owl habitat in the Klamath Mountains. If the Bear Country and South Fork timber sales move forward, low elevation old-growth forest outside protected wilderness areas would be logged. Old trees in the Klamath National Forest will remain threatened until federal policies are enacted that permanently protect them.


Project status

The Forest Service has released an environmental assessment and implemented a comment period. It has not yet published a decision.


How you can help

  • Sign our targeted letter to Secretary Vilsack and Secretary Haaland to call for durable protections for mature and old-growth forests on federal lands.

  • Submit Letters to the Editor about this project to your local newspaper.

  • Send emails and make phone calls to the Pacific Northwest regional Forest Service office to oppose the Bear Country logging project.


Local contact: Luke Ruediger, Klamath Forest Alliance, siskiyoucrest@gmail.com

The Worth More Standing report spotlights federal forest-management practices that are liquidating mature and old-growth forests and trees every day. It includes 10 examples that are part of a pervasive pattern of federal forest mismanagement that routinely sidesteps science to turn carbon-storing giants into lumber. Learn what actions you can take to protect Climate Forests across the country.