Proposal for the Rogue-Umpqua National Recreation Area
In the heart of the Oregon Cascade Mountains lies a forest with an extraordinary history and spectacular natural attributes. Ancient forests, rich in diversity, rest upon a landscape shaped by the eruption of Mount Mazama, one of the most violent volcanic events of the last 10,000 years, which is now Crater Lake National Park. Early proposals for Crater Lake National Park included most of this area in recognition of its outstanding beauty and ecological value. The proposed Rogue-Umpqua National Recreation Area offers ample picture perfect sites, abundant recreational opportunities, and needed protection for an area whose natural beauty is threatened by continued logging and road building.
Now is the time to take steps to permanently protect this rich and diverse forest! We ask for your support to designate this incredible area adjacent to Crater Lake National Park as a National Recreation Area.
The approximately 432,000 acre area that makes up the proposed Rogue-Umpqua National Recreation Area includes popular destination points such as Mt. Theilsen, the Pacific Crest Trail, the headwaters of the Rogue River, the Wild and Scenic North Umpqua River, Mt. Bailey, Diamond Lake, some of Oregon's grandest waterfalls, dozens of trails for all kinds of recreation and some of the most magnificent Ancient Forests remaining in the Pacific Northwest. Ancient forests and stunning geologic features left by the eruption of Mount Mazama are the basis of this diverse area. The boundaries of the proposed national recreation area fall entirely within the Diamond Lake Ranger District of the Umpqua National Forest and the Prospect Ranger District of the Rogue River National Forest. Through its size and linkages between adjacent wilderness areas (Mt. Theilsen, Rogue-Umpqua Divide, and Boulder Creek) this national recreation area provides critical connectivity for many large-ranging and old-growth dependent species – including 20 species of conservation concern.
Protected status such as wilderness, parks and national recreation areas bring economic vitality to adjacent communities. Counties with relatively attractive environments and higher percentages of land devoted to wilderness, national parks, and national recreation areas are more likely to experience stronger economic growth. People are attracted by the quality of life these protected areas bring, which is largely based on the presence of healthy streams and intact native forests. Any negative impacts from a reduction in timber harvests would be offset by the benefits of designating a national recreation area.
We feel that Oregon is severely lacking in the number of acres of of National Parks, National Monuments and National Recreation Areas. While Washington has over 2.1 million acres and California a whopping 7 million acres, Oregon has a mere 850,000 acres of National Parks, National Monuments, or National Recreation Areas. It is time that Oregonians received a fair share of National Recreation Area designations to not only attract tourist dollars but to create a lasting legacy for our children and grandchildren.
Recreation in the Rogue-Umpqua National Recreation Area
Whether you’re hiking along the North Umpqua River, soaking in the hot springs, boating on a lake, photographing wildflowers in a Cascades meadow, or catching a spectacular sunset at Mt. Bailey, one thing is for sure, the amazingly rich lands of the proposed Rogue-Umpqua National Recreation Area provide recreational opportunities that are difficult to surpass.
Travelers come to Oregon to see the breathtaking views, encounter rare wildlife and explore the many outdoor opportunities. The proposed Rogue-Umpqua National Recreation Area contains many of the natural qualities visitors like – extensive old-growth forests to hike, many rivers, lakes and streams to fish, and majestic views from peaks like Mount Bailey. Recreation in the Umpqua National Forest already has been more concentrated in the area of the national recreation area—72% of the National Forest recreation use.
The proposed Rogue-Umpqua National Recreation Area is composed largely of the Diamond Lake Ranger District in the Umpqua National Forest and the Prospect District of the Rogue River National Forest, which hosts a collection of recreational opportunities such as:
In the Diamond Lake District there are:
· 11 developed campgrounds
· 68 hiking trails
· 12 horseback riding trails
· 8 mountain biking trails
· 2 resorts
· 20+ over-snow trails
In the Prospect District there is:
· ? campgrounds
· ? hiking trails
· ? horseback riding trails
· ? resorts
· ? over-snow trails
Not only is Diamond Lake and the headwaters of the Rogue River are some of Oregon best loved and most used recreation areas, they are also the heaviest logged places in the Umpqua and Rogue River National Forests. Conflicts happen with logging units over hiking trails, in the view sheds and fragmenting wild road-less areas. Nearly 90,000 acres of the entire National Recreation Area are road-less and without protection, threatened by logging and road building. For example, the ecologically important Mount Bailey Inventoried Roadless Area has declined from 20,300 acres in 1979 to 18,627 acres currently.
To protect places like this, forest activists have fought timber sales one by one, protecting each watershed for just a moment in time. This is an opportunity to bring all of our efforts together to protect this diverse, ecologically rich forests as well as the priceless headwaters of Oregon's most valuable rivers.
Old-growth forests cover nearly one-third (27%) of the proposed national recreation area. Eighty percent of the 432,000 acres under the proposed national recreation area includes biologically rich, mid and low elevation forests. Currently, this beautiful land is threatened by the logging of old-growth forests and road building. The Diamond Lake Ranger District is planning to remove over 120 million board feet from this area in the near future. That is over 25,000 log truck loads! And of the 90,000 acres in the national recreation area that are road-less over half receive no road-less protection!
In 1999, 830 million visitors made their way to the National Forests. Recreation activities on the National Forest lands in the year 2000 was projected to generate over $97.8 billion dollars into the economy. Resource extraction, including all mining and logging, is projected to produce only about one-tenth of that. In addition, the Forest Service projects that the largest growth in recreation in the next 50 years will be wildlife viewing and backpacking.
Now is the time to protect this diverse and ecologically rich forest for generations to come. By enjoying the forest through hiking, biking, fishing, horseback riding, skiing, boating, rafting, canoeing, climbing and other activities, we can ensure that the forest will be there to share in the future.
In 2005 the Many Rivers Group of the Oregon Chapter Sierra Club sent a letter to Congressman Peter DeFazio to request a meeting to discuss the possibility of creating the Rogue-Umpqua National Recreation area. The Many Rivers Group never received a reply from Congressman DeFazio on this matter.