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The Planet
Roadless Area Threatened By Proposed Ski Area Expansion

By Tom Valtin

The Forest Service has proposed to expand the Mt. Ashland Ski Area, located seven miles south of the City of Ashland on Forest Service lands in southern Oregon. The expansion would be into a roadless area in the Middle Branch of the East Fork Ashland Creek watershed, and would:

• Clearcut the equivalent of 80 football fields of virgin, old-growth forest in the McDonald Peak Roadless Area and City of Ashland’s municipal watershed.

• Fragment habitat for old-growth-dependent species such as the northern spotted owl. A rare American fisher was recently found in the area slated to be cut.

• Clearcut riparian zones, wetland areas, meadows, streams, springs, seeps, and the rare Engelmann spruce, and ruin habitat for at least a dozen rare plants.

The Sierra Club’s Rogue Group (Oregon Chapter) recommends that the Forest Service choose Alternative 1 (no action) or Alternative 5 with modifications. Alternative 5 would allow a modest expansion within the current ski use area, but would protect the Middle Branch of the East Fork and the McDonald Peak Roadless Area from the proposed clearcuts, protect riparian zones, wetlands, and meadows, and preserve habitat for rare flora and fauna. The Sierra Club recommends that Alternative 5 be modified to exclude the proposed Moraine Lodge, expanded parking, and an 800-foot-long retaining wall.

Send comments before October 23 to John Schuyler, Acting District Ranger, Ashland Ranger District, 645 Washington St., Ashland, OR 97520; fax (541)858-2402; or e-mail comments-pacificnorthwest-rogueriver-ashland@fs.fed.us.

For more information, contact: Tom Dimitre at dimitre@mind.net.

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