Wilderness Committee Update Winter 2020
By Bob Hoehne
Our hearts and prayers are with our many friends and neighbors who lost their homes in the recent fires. Some were UW members, and on the Wilderness Committee, care and support for them need to be ongoing.
The committee has been working steadily on the Crater Lake Wilderness Proposal. Susan Applegate has contacted the Forest Service Supervisor and District Rangers to determine if any of the proposed wilderness areas were burned in the Archie Creek and Thielsen fires. Tony Cannon has been helping with map overlays, and Diana Pace has been doing a great job keeping track of our inquiries and activities.
Two wild backcountry areas affected by the Archie Creek blaze, Williams Creek and Cougar Bluff, include many special features that have been evolving since the beginning of time. They provide the ecological services of a native forest: clean cold water, habitat, carbon storage, and more resilience to fire. They are well known to locals for hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, and swimming opportunities. Many ancient forest experiences require a bit of a drive. These areas are just a half-hour drive from Roseburg along the North Umpqua five miles before Steamboat Inn. The river cuts right between the two areas, Williams Creek on the north side and Cougar Bluffs on the river’s south side.
Like other backcountry areas in the Umpqua National Forest (our public lands), they are not in the Proposed Crater Lake Wilderness; they are protected as roadless areas. Each area is roughly 6000 acres and are deserving of wilderness protection. Cougar Bluffs was the first area that UW’s Wilderness Committee favored with the “Adopt-A-Wilderness” Program. The program is meant to encourage citizen research of wild areas. Hikes into these areas on established trails foster a scientific approach to understanding them by geologists, hydrologists, fire ecologists, and foresters. Most of the trees in these areas are about 200 years old, except for older groves throughout the forest. They are an important, pristine, and beautiful and functioning wild forest.
This Summer, wilderness committee members picked up trash around Crater Lake, including the Cleetwood Cove Trail down to the lake. This Fall, members Rick Kreofsky and Connie Page, and friends went back to Crater Lake before it snowed and picked up more trash. We also picked up two more truckloads of trash from Elk Island before the rains came.
A sub-committee of the Wilderness Committee is producing a Crater lake Wilderness Proposal Video. It will advocate for proposal support and will show the importance of overlaying the park with wilderness and protecting the headwaters of 6 iconic S.W. Oregon rivers. It will also demonstrate the effect on people’s lives downstream with healthy fish runs, clean drinking water, and recreational opportunities. We thank Alan Bunce for his help with the vision of the storyline of this video. This is a big project, and if you can help financially, it would be important and appreciated. Make a check out to the UW-Wilderness Committee.
If you are interested in the Adopt a Wilderness Program, volunteering, have questions or comments, we would like to hear from you and welcome your help.