Appeal of Father Oak Timber Sale

12/89 (Timber sale Appeal): Three units of a larger timber sale near Port Orford Oregon1 that would have ruined two popular recreational areas. Typical sale circa late 1980's.

John F. Butrille
Regional Forester
Region 6
PO Box 3623
Portland, Oregon 97208

Re: Appeal of Father Oak Timber Sale

In a recent meeting of Audubon Society members in Eugene you said that while the Hatfield-Adams legislation was "timber driven" you did not want to do anything that was "...stupid on the ground..."

Mr. Butrille, I am afraid that the U.S. Forest Service may be about to do something near our town, which has not been completely thought through.

If you were to leave Port Orford and drive into the Forest the first place you would come to is the area of The Father Oak Sale. All 11 of these proposed clearcuts lie within nine driving miles of our town. This area is the closest place where streams are accessible. This is where we go fishing, pick blackberries, gather brush, and take hikes.

You have already received several appeals of this Sale that address such issues as: existing private logging, Bald Mountain Creek running brown, no management plan filed for the Elk River, diorite being found in the Elk river, unstable soil, proximity to a Wild and Scenic River corridor, and State Fish Hatchery impact. Those appeals discuss such issues much better than we can. Father Oak has 11 units. The Appeal you are now reading deals with only three units: Two, Thirteen and Fourteen, although we oppose the entire sale.

Through some inadvertence whoever planned this timber sale overlooked the fact that Unit Two is exactly where the nicest hike to the highest peak in the area terminates. For years now, when people come to visit Port Orford we take them to the top of Bald Mountain. It is close to town; the walk is easy (you can drive it if you are brave); it is the highest peak in the area; and the whole way up you have panoramic ocean views up and down the coast. When you get to the top of Bald Mountain, 3000 feet, there is a grove of trees - at the very top - next to where you would have a picnic. This is what is proposed to be removed in a clear-cut - the trees at the top of this mountain. People have gotten married here! It's one thing if the Forest Service can't afford to create new "recreational assets", but why ruin one that already exists. By any conceivable definition of multiple use Unit Two is already being used to its highest potential as a day hike destination. Clearcutting the top of this mountain will stand as a dead monument to environmental insensitivity.

Hard as it may be to believe, Units Thirteen and Fourteen are an even worse violation of existing "recreational assets". Around the turn of the century Mcgribble campground was created and served as a supply station for forest fire lookouts. Close to town it also served as a place to hold large parties and gatherings. Without any notice this campground was recently technically closed. The community did not realize this because it looks open and people still use it. The tables and permanent restroom facilities were removed, but the rest of it is still there and there isn't any "closed" sign on it. It is currently shown on Forest Service and other maps as an existing campground.

Starting at this campground is an easy short trail that winds down through some enormous fir trees to Bald Mountain Creek where the trail ends. Right there is a nice swimming hole. The creek is typical of old growth; mossy rocks, snags, prime salmon habitat, shaded...just beautiful... and if you were to raise your gaze at this point to look across the stream what would you see? Units 13 and 14 of the Father Oak Timber Sale. These clear cuts are across the creek at the very end of the trail.

First of all, why did you close the campground? Secondly, if it is ever reopened, even 20 years from now, you will have blighted this area for the thousands of future users. Is your planning so good you can say that this campground will not be needed in the future? And when it is needed in the future, do we really want two clearcuts across the creek right behind the campground? As with Unit Two, an existing asset is being degraded. I know of many people who used the trail this year; it is, for example, a good place for mushrooming. Also, since we don't have many trails in this area, people often walk up the creeks because they are so pretty. This creek is one of the loveliest. It has walls with moss and ferns 12 inches thick, enormous blocks of rock fallen into the creek, old snags lying across it, little waterfalls, and plants of all shades of green.

I have been advised by various employees of the Forest Service; that we have: 30 days from 10/19 to appeal the Father Oak Sale, 30 days from 11/1, 45 days from 10/19, 45 days from 11/1, 45 days from 11/6, and finally that we have no appeal rights at all. I hope that you will accept this appeal and decide to cancel this timber sale.

James S. Britell
Conservation Chairman
Kalmiopsis Audubon Society

cc:Senator Mark Hatfield
Congressman Peter DeFazio
Forest Supervisor Ron McCormick
Oregon Natural Resources Council
Headwaters, Inc.

  1. For other articles about Elk River Timber sales see: forced sales, appeal, rider effects, sale status, sales withdrawn, status under rider, status of four sales

#46.1, (v 1.3) 3/13/11

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