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Commissioners oppose Crater Lake Wilderness proposal
by SAMANTHA TIPLER H&N Staff Reporter Dec 2, 2015
“I think this is something Klamath County really needs to
oppose,” said commissioner Jim Bellet. “There is already
wilderness up there, there’s plenty. We just don’t need any
other catastrophic wildfires.”
“Much of the forest within the proposed area is categorized as high risk for catastrophic fire,” the resolution reads. “We the Klamath County commissioners support and continue to enjoy Crater Lake National Park, but strongly oppose Oregon Wild’s proposal to designate a 500,000 acre ‘Crater Lake Wilderness Area.’ ”
“I’m really concerned about forest health. We have not done a good job as a country, and certainly as a state, of really having proper forest management,” said commissioner Kelley Minty Morris. “Our forests are susceptible to fire much more than they should be.”
Helicopter tours opposed Oregon Wild promotes the wilderness designation as a way to keep intrusions from the national park, such as helicopter tours and logging operations. “To combat the misguided logging of the Bybee project and the threat of noisy helicopter flights over the national park, wilderness protection is needed,”
Oregon Wild’s website on the proposal says. “Wilderness designation is the gold standard when it comes to protecting America’s public lands.” A designated wilderness area prohibits any mechanical use within its boundaries, such as motorized vehicles, trail bikes, helicopters, etc. Klamath County Commission Chairman Tom Mallams showed a map of the proposed 500,000 acres, which includes areas west of Klamath Falls such as Pelican Butte, and Brown Mountain near Lake of the Woods and Fish Lake, as well as the Sawtooth Mountains between Mount Thielsen and Diamond Peak. “North of Crater Lake and south, both. Huge, huge areas, scattered all over the place,” Mallams said. “It is a very drastic picture. It really shows how gigantic an overreach this is.”
“That would really affect the recreational opportunities that
people have just west of Klamath Falls,” Bellet said.
Another issue the commissioners raised was air quality. Wildfires produce smoke, which affects Klamath County’s air quality in the summer. “Any proposal that increases the likelihood that we are going to have even more catastrophic fires that really impact our health outcomes is something I can’t support,” Minty Morris said. As a hiker and trail runner, Minty Morris said some sort of solution may be workable, but not the one Oregon Wild is proposing.
“I don’t think in this instance it’s the right solution,” she
said. “Let’s do that in a way that’s collaborative, in a way
that still puts us on a path to increased forest health, in a
way that still puts us on a path toward better forest management
.... But let’s not just do this blanket proposal as it’s crafted
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Page Updated: Friday December 04, 2015 02:28 AM Pacific
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