Umpqua Watersheds Blog


History of Wilderness Campaigns of the Umpqua

Published June 9th, 2024 in Wilderness

…by Diana Pace

I would like to provide some background into the history of the Wilderness campaigns in the Umpqua Valley. The Umpqua Wilderness Defenders Coalition was active in 1974. Members included Richard Chasm, Paul Nolte, Frank and Jean Moore, Stan Knouse, Dorothy Sherman, Diana Wales, Roy Keene, and Mike Anderson. In 1979, Steve Erickson became president of the coalition and traveled to Washington DC in 1984 to lobby for three wilderness areas that were eventually established: Boulder Creek, Mount Thielsen, and Rogue Umpqua Divide. Here is the timeline of wilderness proposals from Umpqua Watersheds members:

2000, The Medicine Mountain National Monument Proposal was put forth by Umpqua Watersheds members Francis Eatherington, Penny Lind, and Al Walker through the Department of Agriculture to protect 196,000 acres in the Diamond Lake Ranger District and 10,000 in the Rogue National Forest. Medicine Mountain is a Klamath tribal name for Mount Bailey.

2001 The Adopt Roadless Area campaign to protect roadless areas began.

2003 The Wild on Wilderness Committee (WOW) was formed with Leslie Sherman, Gwen Bates, Bob Hoehne, Jenny Sideman, and Robbin Wisdom.

2007 Conception of Wild Umpqua Wilderness Proposal.

2008 The listing of roadless areas ready for wilderness designation was completed. Wild on Wilderness Committee Susan Applegate, Anne Dorsey, Buzz Long, Christy Cutting, Bob Allen, M A Hansen, Claude Sterling, and Gerald Wisdom formal launch of the Citizens Wilderness Campaign of Wild Umpqua Wilderness Proposal to encompass 250,000 acres of roadless areas in Umpqua National Forest.

2010-Thomas McGregor joined the WOW Committee. The next year committee chair Susan Applegate presented to the UW board that UW and WOW join with Oregon Wild and Environmental Oregon in creating a wilderness proposal that included the backcountry of Crater Lake National Park and incorporated 74% of the original Wild Umpqua Wilderness Proposal and named the project Crater Lake Wilderness Proposal.

2020- The name of the committee changed from Wild on Wilderness (WOW) to Wilderness Committee.

Decades of devoted individuals advocating for wilderness in the Umpqua were documented in our records but the information was also verified by Richard Chasm, Leslie Sherman, Steve Erickson, Francis Eatherington, and Susan Applegate.

Crater Lake Wilderness Proposal

The goals of the proposal are to advocate and create wilderness designation for 160,000 acres in the backcountry of Crater Lake National Park (CLNP) to enlarge wildernesses of Mount Thielsen, Sky Lakes, Boulder Creek, and Rogue Umpqua Divide as well as create the Sawtooth Mountain Wilderness between Mt Thielsen and Diamond Peak Wildernesses. This would create a 90-mile protected high cascade corridor along the Pacific Crest Trail for plant and wildlife corridors and maintaining biological diversity. It would also protect the headwaters of major rivers of southern Oregon: North and South Umpqua, Rogue, Klamath, Willamette, and Little Deschutes. It is designed to protect additional high-value areas along the North Umpqua and Steamboat Creek for about 340,000 additional acres. Over 80% of national park service lands and waters are managed as wilderness, and 50 national parks have designated wilderness.

The committee, a crucial part of this initiative, has been actively engaging with various agencies and organizations. Promoting the CLWP by exchanging information and ideas with Douglas County Commissioner Tom Kress, Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley’s staff,  and Umpqua National Forest Supervisor, Alice Carlson, and four district rangers.

We also spoke with Eric Fernandez of Oregon Wild, Wilderness Watch’s Wilderness Act specialist, and Attorney Katie Bilodeau, who provided invaluable guidance. Cascadia Wildlands Wildland Director, Grace Brahler. KS Wild Conservation Director George Sexton also provided valuable feedback. We are still waiting to schedule meetings with Cow Creek Natural Resources staff and Douglas County Commissioners Chris Boice and Tim Freeman.

The heart of our effort lies in communication and collaboration. We strive to keep the CLWP at the forefront of discussions championed by Susan Applegate, Robbin Schindele, Bob Hoehne, Rick Kreofsky, and Connie Page, who are always ready to lend a hand. We are actively engaging with the community by tabling at the Roseburg Farmers Market on the 2nd Saturday of each month, spreading information, and getting signed postcards of support to government officials. Other activities include two successful hikes this spring- Wolf Creek Falls and Pine Bench in the Boulder Creek Wilderness.


Contact me if you want to be on the committee or go on the hikes.



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