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Concerns about helicopter flights, logging prompt campaign to add more than 500,000 acres in and around the national park
by LEE JUILLERAT, Herald and News 7/28/11
Concerns about proposed helicopter flights over Crater Lake National Park and logging sales along park boundaries have prompted efforts to expand and create wilderness areas in and outside the park.

Environmental groups, including Oregon Wild, Environmental Oregon, Umpqua Watersheds and the Crater Lake Institute, are launching a campaign to add more than 500,000 acres as designated wilderness in a 90-mile Cascades corridor in and around the park.

The total includes 170,000 acres in the park that has been managed as wilderness since the mid-1970s.

Sean Stevens, Oregon Wild’s communications director, said the groups started wilderness expansion efforts because of the proposed helicopter f lights and planned timber sales.

Leading Edge Aviation of Bend has a pending proposal for helicopter tours while the U.S. Forest Service has timber sales proposed north and south of the park.

“That sort of jarred us. Most people don’t want to see that happen,” Stevens said, referring to the 2009 helicopter tour proposal. He said the wilderness legislation could include language specifically preventing such flights.

The timber sale proposals include the D-Bug sale on the Umpqua National Forest near Diamond and Lemolo lakes north of the park and the Bybee sale on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest west of the park.

Various proposals to expand existing and create new wilderness areas in and near the park have been made over the past 30 years.

Crater Lake officials proposed designating most of the park’s undeveloped areas as wilderness in the mid-1970s. Superintendent Craig Ackerman and chief of natural resources Mac Brock said those areas have since been managed as wilderness.

Ackerman said the park has no position on the Oregon Wild proposal.

Park biologists review and comment on proposed timber sales and other Forest Service activities that could affect the park.

In some cases, Ackerman said, timber sales could create concerns because roads built for the sales could increase illegal trespassing by hunters and mushroom pickers, impact owl nesting, and lead to increases in exotic and invasive plant species.

Brock said except for two wilderness areas adjoining the park, including Sky Lakes in the Fremont-Winema and Rogue River-Siskiyou National forests and the Mount Thielsen in the Umpqua, Forest Service lands are managed for multiple uses. Because of a history of logging and other activities, he doubts some of the lands would qualify as wilderness.




Crater Lake wilderness area Action on wilderness area could take some time Sean Stevens, communications director for Oregon Wild, the lead environmental group promoting the addition of more than 500,000 acres for wilderness designation in and near Crater Lake National Park, expects a long-term campaign. He said the scope of the wilderness proposal, combined with an increasingly conservative U.S. Congress, means the Crater Lake proposal will require public support. Along with providing protections for the lake and park, Stevens said the proposal would create a 90-mile long north-south Cascades corridor bisected by only four roads. In Klamath County, the proposal includes lands added to the park several years ago and Forest Service land adjacent to the Sky Lakes Wilderness, including Pelican Butte, and to the Mount Thielsen Wilderness. Stevens also noted Oregon lags behind neighboring states in wilderness. Only 4 percent of Oregon is wilderness — a designation conferred by Congress — compared with 8 percent in Idaho, 10 percent in Washington and 15 percent in California.


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