Kalmiopsis Addition

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Interesting article about the addition of wilderness to the existing Kalmiopsis Wilderness... The Oregonian June 2, 2004 The federal government's call for 64,000 acres of new wilderness was viewed widely Tuesday as intriguing -- and a complete surprise. "There has been no contact either with my staff or myself regarding this. I've not seen maps nor descriptions," said Democratic Rep. Peter DeFazio, whose 4th Congressional District includes much of the Southern Oregon landscape scorched in the summer of 2002. The establishment of wilderness areas is not taken lightly. In wilderness areas, logging, mining and other mechanized activities are prohibited, allowing only the experience of the forest and the solitude that attends it. The areas delineated in the proposal are five land fragments on the rim of the much larger Kalmiopsis Wilderness, selected by the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest supervisor as offering the best potential for solitude and other wilderness values. DeFazio said Tuesday that he'd be willing to sit down and talk with the Bush administration about permanently protecting the ecologically distinct Siskiyou National Forest. Others said the proposal could open the door for consideration of a more extensive Oregon wilderness bill this year. This spring, Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden floated a plan to add 160,000 acres of wilderness on Mount Hood. Wyden's chief of staff, Josh Kardon, said he was contacted last week by Mark Rey, the Agriculture Department undersecretary who directs U.S. forest policy. "I indicated to the undersecretary that Senator Wyden would be very interested in looking at the administration's (Biscuit) proposal, but there would have to be a process for public participation and that this sounded like a great opportunity to move forward with Mount Hood as well," Kardon said Tuesday. Republican Sen. Gordon Smith declined comment Tuesday about wilderness designations, instead saying, through a spokesman, that forest rehabilitation remains the "No. 1 priority." If the wilderness proposal is to become reality, Congress must act. It's rare for the U.S. Forest Service to request a wilderness designation, and the Biscuit proposal marks only the second time the Bush administration has promoted additional wilderness lands. Conservationists were cool to cynical about what the administration's proposal signals. "Sixty-four thousand acres of wilderness seems like a paltry amount of window dressing to support one of the largest timber sales in history," said Ken Rait, the Portland-based campaigns director for the Campaign for America's Wilderness. "I may be easy on wilderness but I'm not cheap. That ain't enough," said Andy Kerr, senior counselor for the Oregon Natural Resources Council, part of a coalition that has advocated the protection of more than 300,000 acres adjacent to or near the Kalmiopsis Wilderness. It also isn't enough for Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski, credited by the Forest Service for recommending the addition of protected wilderness. "I am disappointed that the Forest Service has only recommended the inclusion of 64,000 acres of land," he said in a statement. "The unique character of this area warrants a significantly larger addition." Kulongoski "would have gone much higher -- to as much as 100,000 or 120,000 acres," said Mary Ellen Glynn, the governor's spokeswoman. Glynn said the governor would push for a larger designation in the next several weeks. Southern Oregon conservation groups said they would fight the government's plans to log 19,400 acres -- including some areas once set aside for future wilderness designation. Expanded wilderness may be something we can revisit later on, said Don Smith, executive director of the Siskiyou Project. But for now, he said, "The real issue is the scale of what the Forest Service is proposing."

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