“Now, more than ever, we need to take an 'all-lands' approach to managing our nation's forests, whether they are national forests or under the stewardship of state or private entities.”
—Thomas J. Vilsack, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, (Land Letter, Aug. 19, 2010)
New Shasta-Siskiyou Forest Conservation Project to Conserve Key CA Watershed
Bear Creek Working Forest Project Will Conserve 8,230 Acres in Upper Sacramento Basin Protecting Water for Two-Thirds of State’s Population
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SAN FRANCISCO (October 12, 2011) – The Roseburg Resources Company and Pacific Forest Trust (PFT) are in the final phase of conserving an 8,230-acre tract of forested watershed supplying flows to the Sacramento Delta. This working forest conservation easement will secure forests, water and jobs key to the economic health of the struggling Northern California timber region.
The Bear Creek Working Forest Project will conserve the significant natural resources of a working forest located on the slopes of Mount Shasta in Siskiyou and Shasta counties. This effort will keep the land in productive, private ownership while completing the permanent conservation of the upper Bear Creek watershed, spawning grounds for the world-famous Fall River rainbow trout, and key to the watershed health of the Fall River. The Fall River is a tributary of the Pit and a major source of water into Lake Shasta on the Sacramento River, which supplies the majority of California’s agricultural and drinking water.
Together Roseburg Resources and PFT have applied to the California Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) for grants to fund the $7.8 million independently appraised value of the conservation easement. The WCB Board will consider the project proposal at its November 17, 2011, meeting. If the grant is awarded, Roseburg has committed to sell the easement to PFT this year. Working forest conservation easements keep lands in private ownership and productive use, safeguarding their resources in perpetuity for far less than what it would cost to purchase lands outright for state or federal protection.
Located in the Klamath-Cascade Region – where runoff from the glaciers of Mount Shasta and Mount Lassen forms the headwaters of the state’s major water sources – the Bear Creek tract is part of an interwoven quilt of public and privately-owned forest watersheds. The Region has been an anchor of the state’s timber industry and is home to the world’s most biodiverse conifer forests.
Its rich natural resources are at risk, however, from economic pressure on forest landowners to harvest more timber to maintain a shrinking bottom line, or sell out altogether. Roseburg operates one of the two remaining sawmills in Siskiyou County, and is committed to keeping their forestlands intact, both physically and ecologically. But like its peers, the family-owned company has been under tremendous pressure in recent years from the housing market collapse, global competition and restructuring of the U.S. forest industry.
The Bear Creek project will help provide the company with new revenue to sustain their operations and keep their resource base secure. This will greatly benefit the regional economy, helping protect more than 230 high-quality jobs in an area where unemployment ranges from 16 to 19 percent – well above the state and national average – and buffering communities against more “boom and bust” economic cycles.
Conservation of the Bear Creek property will sustain the company’s excellent forest stewardship at levels above and beyond what even the state’s strict forest regulations require -- and prevent future conversion to residential and other uses, keeping the tract from being broken up into many smaller parcels. It also will allow public recreational access throughout the property.
Allyn Ford, President of Roseburg, commented, “We believe the future of our company and our industry is in managing our forests for all the public benefits they provide, including sustainable wood supplies, renewable energy, clean drinking water, habitat for fish and wildlife and increased carbon storage. Conservation easements provide us with compensation for this stewardship, making our business more robust. In working with Pacific Forest Trust we are showing our deep commitment to the future of California’s forests and to the forest industry. This project is good for business, good for jobs and good for the environment.”
“This partnership with Roseburg comes at a crucial time for California and its forests,” added Constance Best, co-CEO of Pacific Forest Trust. “Roseburg’s leadership in incorporating conservation into their forest management is an inspiration. The success of this project will help anchor the forest products industry in the state. By acting now, even in these tough times, we can cost-effectively conserve the green infrastructure of our working forests, and ensure high standards of stewardship of essential forest resources such as clean drinking water that all Californians depend on. The public will reap lasting returns from this investment.”
Download the Bear Creek Working Forest Project Factsheet [PDF]
By cooperating through the Bear Creek Working Forest Project, Roseburg Resources and PFT will jointly ensure the conservation of this well-managed, biodiverse conifer forest to benefit people and nature:
• Clean water for people and fish, helping restore the water quality of the Fall River, which flows into the upper Sacramento River to benefit millions of Californians.
• Protection and restoration of habitats for a wide array of wildlife, including threatened or rare species such as the Northern Spotted Owl, Pacific Fisher, Willow Flycatcher, Northern Goshawk and many others, as well as deer and elk.
• Conservation and restoration of 950 acres of rare and sensitive habitats, including riparian areas, areas of older forest, aspen groves, montane chaparral and wet meadows, benefiting an estimated 185 species.
• The removal and long-term storage of atmospheric carbon dioxide to help stabilize our climate.
Roseburg Resources will retain habitat reserves within even-aged harvests, manage riparian areas to benefit fish and old-growth dependent species, manage their road system to protect water quality, and ensure that timber harvest doesn’t exceed timber growth each decade. Overall, more than 20 percent of the property will be managed for special habitat values, while the whole property is restored to a higher level of biodiversity over time
The company also has committed itself to opening the whole property to hiking, horseback riding, biking, and other non-motorized public recreational access to complement existing access along the Pacific Crest Trail.
When the conservation project is complete, together with another conservation easement held by Pacific Forest Trust, a 13,000 acre conservation area will be created in the Fall River headwaters that is adjacent to an 11,400 acre “late successional reserve” managed for old growth forest characteristics on the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. This larger landscape of conserved areas amplifies the environmental benefits of the Bear Creek Working Forest Project.
For more information, contact:
Connie Best, Co-CEO, Pacific Forest Trust: (415) 561-0700 ext. 19
Arne Hultgren, Manager – CA Land and Timber, Roseburg Resources Company: (530) 938-5754
Media inquiries should be directed to:
Chris Harrison, Communications Director, Pacific Forest Trust: (415) 561-0700 ext. 13