The Mungers Wildlands Complex is located in the Siskiyou Mountains, a highly diverse and particularly rugged portion of southwestern Oregon. Located south of Grants Pass, Oregon and visible from portions of the Rogue River Valley, the Illinois Valley and the Applegate Valley, the area is prominent, scenic, and accessible. The area is also virtually surrounded by rural residential properties, but also contains wild, unlogged forests, unique serpentine outcrops, beautiful mountain summits and cascading streams.
The larger Mungers Wildlands include three separate wild areas including Mungers Butte, Kerby Peak and Round Top Mountain. In 2016, numerous areas within the Munger Wildland Complex were designated as Lands with Wilderness Characteristics (LWC), Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) and Extensive Recreation Management Areas (ERMA). Unfortunately, these designations have not adequately protected the region and the BLM is currently proposing a large timber sale on Mungers Butte, at the heart of the Mungers Wildlands, Currently units are proposed in upper the Powell Creek, Mungers Creek, Murphy Creek and South Fork Deer Creek watersheds.
Our coalition is working to both protect the Mungers Wildlands and stop the Late Mungers Timber Sale.
The broad, rocky summit of Mungers Butte rises to 5,193’ above the communities of Selma, Williams, Murphy and Grants Pass. The headwaters of South Fork Deer Creek in the Illinois River drainage, as well as Murphy Creek, Mungers Creek, and Palmer Creek in the Applegate River watershed, all originate on the slopes of Mungers Butte.
Like much of the Siskiyou Mountain range, the area supports high levels of biodiversity and a complex mosaic of vegetation. The region supports rocky serpentine outcrops, swaths of montane chaparral, windswept Jeffrey pine groves, dense thickets of knobcone pine and old-growth mixed conifer forests consisting of Douglas fir, ponderosa pine, sugar pine and incense cedar with Port Orford cedar and Pacific yew lining the region’s waterways.
The headwaters of Mungers Creek and Palmer Creek contain the largest contiguous patches of old-growth forest in the Williams Creek watershed and create an important refuge for wildlife. Located at the center of an important connectivity corridor, these forests are important as habitat for Northern spotted owls, Pacific fisher, flying squirrels, red tree voles, black bear, elk, cougar, bobcat, and many others.
In 2016, the BLM designated a large Recreation Management Area centered around Mungers Butte, but rather than promoting recreation and maintaining scenic values, the BLM has proposed logging in the Mungers Wildlands. The Late Mungers Timber Sale proposes logging units in old-growth and late successional forests, unroaded areas, and unproductive serpentine soils.
Our coalition proposes over 4,300 acres on the flank of Mungers Butte be included in a new ACEC including the headwaters of South Fork Deer Creek, Mungers Creek, Powell Creek and Murphy Creek. This new designation would protect the areas unroaded habitats, old-growth forests, intact Port Orford cedar groves, and spectacular biodiversity.
We also propose that the Mungers Extensive Recreational Management Area (ERMA) be utilized to maintain and enhance scenic, recreational and biological values as was intended in the 2016 RMP.
Finally, we recommend that the Late Mungers Timber Sale be withdrawn and redesigned to promote plantation thinning and community fire protection in the Murphy and Williams Creek watersheds.
5,545 foot, Kerby Peak is located in the Illinois River watershed at the headwaters of Deer Creek. The area contains approximately 3,700 acres of unroaded, intact mountain habitat including old-growth forests, montane chaparral, and serpentine rock outcrops. Kerby Peak along with its neighboring peak, Little Grayback (5,348’) rise dramatically above the community of Selma and contain a host of rare and unusual plant communities.
The area is partially protected by the Brewer Spruce Research Natural Area (RNA) and Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC). The region supports particularly diverse conifer forests including groves of the endemic Brewer’s spruce which grows only in the Klamath-Siskiyou Mountains, one of the southern-most groves of Alaska yellow cedar, beautiful groves of Port Orford cedar, Douglas fir, ponderosa pine, sugar pine, western white pine, knobcone pine, red fir, white fir, pacific yew, incense cedar and common juniper. Rabbit Lake, a small mountain pond lies perched in a rocky cirque basin on the northern slope of Little Grayback amid colorful rock gardens and diverse montane forest.
The Kerby Peak Trail is a popular hiking trail traversing the area. It begins in old forest on Whites Creek and climbs to the rocky summit of Kerby Peak. The trail also extends to Rabbit Lake and beyond providing access to this beautiful region.
Although the Late Mungers Project does not specifically propose logging in the Kerby Peak area, if approved, the IVM Project would encourage commercial logging in ACEC designations including those on Kerby Peak.
We propose expansion of the 1,703 acre Kerby Peak ACEC by roughly 2,000 acres. The proposed expansion includes approximately 3,700 acres of old-growth mixed conifer forest, hardwood forest, montane chaparral and diverse Siskiyou Mountain habitats. We also propose that these areas and other ACEC areas be managed as they have in the past with an emphasis on conservation, not timber production.
Round Top Mountain is located on a long forested ridgeline dividing the lower Applegate River from the North Fork of Deer Creek in the Illinois River watershed. The area is extremely steep, heavily forested with old-growth mixed conifer forest and streaked in red rock, serpentine outcrops.
In 2016, the BLM designated 5,295 acres as a Lands with Wilderness Characteristics (LWC), acknowledging the intact, wilderness qualities of the landscape. The area contains both 4,762’ Round Top Mountain and 4,438’ Manzanita Lookout, as well as the headwaters of Cheney Creek, Jackson Creek, Bull Creek and Case Creek in the Applegate River watershed, while North Fork Deer Creek and the headwaters of Crooks Creek drain into the Illinois River basin.
The area contains significant limestone caves at the headwaters of Crooks Creek and Cheney Creek. A new species of spider was described in these caves in 2012 and a new species of carabid beetle was described in 2013. The 4,089 acre Deer Creek Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) was designated in 2016 by the BLM to protect unique cave resources and the surrounding old forest habitats.
Although the Late Mungers Project does not propose logging in the Round Top Mountain area, if approved, the IVM Project would encourage commercial logging in ACEC and Lands with Wilderness Characteristic designations, including those in the Round Top Mountain area.
Our coalition proposes an expansion of the Round Top Mountain LWC to approximately 7,500 acres. We also propose that LWCs, ACECs, and other conservation designations be managed as they have in the past with an emphasis on conservation, not commercial logging and road construction. Finally, the Round Top Mountain Extensive Recreation Management Area should also be managed for non-motorized recreation, natural, ecological values, and to maintain the areas wilderness characteristics.