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Protect Penn Butte & Late Mungers Wildlands

The Mungers Wildlands Complex is located in the Siskiyou Mountains, a highly diverse and particularly rugged portion of southwestern Oregon. Located south of Grants Pass, Oregon and visible from portions of the Rogue River Valley, the Illinois Valley and the Applegate Valley, the area is prominent, scenic, and accessible.

BLM is proposing two large timber sales in the Williams watershed affecting over 800 acres of late successional reserve consisting of trees up to 36 inches.

UPDATE – Sale moved AGAIN to Sept 14th!

See Recent Petition Update Here

UPDATE – Sale moved to May 25th!

What is happening and why it matters.

We must STOP these timber sales now because these forests are WORTH MORE STANDING! 

The Medford District BLM recently approved the Integrated Vegetation Management for Resilient Lands (IVM) Project, which allows the agency to implement up to 20,000 acres of commercial logging and 90 miles of new road construction per decade without additional site-specific scientific analysis or meaningful public involvement opportunities. To make matters worse, this proposal focuses its commercial logging activities in areas outside the BLM’s timber harvest land base ”including Late Successional Reserve (LSR) forest designated to protect old forest habitat for the threatened northern spotted owl. 

When authorizing the IVM Project, the BLM approved a theoretical “program of work” and has begun implementation of this project in the Applegate Valley by proposing the Late Mungers Vegetation Management Project, including both the Penn Butte and Late Mungers Timber Sales. BLM has designed these timber sales and marked trees for removal without any public input or transparency, and has released a Final Determination of NEPA Adequacy, approving the project without adequately engaging the public. 

What is at stake?

These timber sales target some of the last intact, late successional forests in the Mungers Late Successional Reserve, an area intended to protect the connectivity of mature and old growth forest habitat between the Applegate and Illinois River watersheds. Large, old trees up to 40” diameter have been identified for removal in the Late Mungers and Penn Butte Timber Sale and significant canopy removal is also proposed. These activities will:

  • increase fire risks
  • impact at-risk species habitat
  • damage our climate
  • degrade important mature and old forest habitat
  • impact local tourism/recreational/scenic community value in this unique and beautiful region. 

Large portions of the area have been designated as the Mungers Butte Recreation Management Area in the 2016 RMP due to the area’s beautiful forests, scenic vistas and its proximity to nearby communities, but management plans and recreational facilities have not yet been created to identify recreational opportunities. Instead the BLM is logging the Recreation Management Area first, and will then determine what, if any official recreational uses will be permitted. 

Unfortunately, none of the projects site-specific impacts have been adequately analyzed in the IVM Programmatic EA or the Late Mungers Vegetation Management Project Determination of NEPA Adequacy, and the public involvement process for the Late Mungers Project has been severely lacking and is a giant step backwards for the communities of southwestern Oregon.

Late Mungers Forest

Photo Credit: Applegate Siskiyou Alliance

Why is now the time to act?

These timber sales are scheduled for sale starting on April 27th. We must STOP these timber sales now because these forests are WORTH MORE STANDING! 

We ask the Medford District BLM and Department of Interior to withdraw the IVM Programmatic EA and the Late Mungers Vegetation Management Project, neither project serves the public interest and neither will lead to positive, restorative outcomes. 

Why these trees should remain standing.

The project will clearcut up to 20% of mature forest stands, using so-called “group selection logging” techniques, which remove whole groves of mature forest to create “openings” and to regenerate young growth. The BLM also plans to reduce mature forest canopy to 30-40%.  The BLM claims the project will make these stands more resilient, but removing large canopy trees would be more likely to increase fire risk by creating hotter, drier, windier conditions and encouraging the growth of shrubs and fine fuels, which are the primary fuels facilitating the spread and intensity of wildfires. It will also directly impact at risk species, such as the rare Spotted Owl habitat within important Late Successional Reserves intended to facilitate species recovery.

This is a picture of what 30% canopy looks like: 

What 30% forest canopy looks like.

Photo Credit: Williams Community Forest Project

This project is contradictory to local plans. The current management plan for the Medford District BLM calls for increasing northern spotted owl habitat through habitat “restoration,” “resilience” and reducing fire risks. Yet the BLM is targeting old stands with large tree removal and dramatic canopy reduction. The Medford District BLM contains some of the last old forests in these watersheds. These forests are threatened by both current BLM logging practices and this project.

The Late Mungers and Penn Butte Timber Sales are the first projects to be proposed under the IVM Project. The projects target mature, old forest habitats in the mountains between Williams and Murphy in the western Applegate Valley, including beautiful old forests and large, old trees that exceed the BLM’s 36” diameter limit. Yet, the IVM Project is also proposing timber sales near Ruch, Oregon (also in the Applegate Valley) and future timber sales can now be approved without adequate public comment throughout southwestern Oregon. The IVM Project takes the public voice out of public land management planning and allows old forest logging that is damaging to wildlife, to nearby communities, to endangered wildlife species and important watershed values. The IVM project is focused on industrial logging in our last intact forest habitats, not on restoration or resilience as the BLM claims. 

We must stop these timber sales prior to April 27th!

What can you do?

  • Sign this petition and we will share this petition with President Biden and Secretary Haaland to call for durable protections for mature and old-growth forests.
  • Submit Letters to the Editor about this project to your local newspaper.
  • Send emails and make phone calls to the Oregon Bureau of Land Management Medford office to oppose the Integrative Vegetation Management logging project.

Many thanks to my fellow board members of Williams Community Forest Project as well as Luke Ruediger of the Applegate Siskiyou Alliance for his dedicated actions and words in support of this effort. Together our voices are strong. Please join us, we need your support!

For more information: 

Protect Mungers

Williams Community Forest Project

Climate Forests

Siskiyou Crest – Worth More Standing

Ashland News – Viewpoint

Header Photo Credit: Applegate Siskiyou Alliance

Mungers Butte