Less than 15 air miles from Grants Pass and located directly above the rural communities of Murphy, North Applegate and Williams in the Applegate Valley as well as, Selma in the Illinois Valley; the Mungers Wildlands are both wild and accessible. The area contains a complex mixture of intact habitats, including old-growth forests, high mountain summits, serpentine outcrops, long vistas, spectacular rock gardens, and clear mountain streams.
In the BLM’s 2016 Southwestern Oregon Resource Management Plan (RMP) the agency acknowledge these important recreational values by designating the Mungers Butte and Round Top Mountain Extensive Recreation Management Areas (ERMA).
Due to the unique scenic qualities and diverse habitats found in the Mungers Wildlands, as well as the relative ease of access, the area contains exceptional, but largely untapped recreational values. Although the agency has designated these areas for recreational uses, they have not yet developed management plans or significant recreational infrastructure.
The region’s recreational values are far more important to the local economy than public land logging. They also significantly contribute to the region’s quality of life and bring residents, visitors and businesses to the region.
For example, the Rogue River Valley near Grants Pass is famous for its outdoor recreation, its wild rivers, beautiful forests and spectacular scenery. It is the largest community in Josephine County and the gateway to recreational opportunities on the Rogue River, in the Applegate Valley and in the mountains and rivers of the Illinois Valley. Recreation and tourism are significant economic drivers in the Grants Pass region and will only be enhanced by maintaining scenic resources and developing recreational opportunities in the Mungers Butte and Round Top Extensive Recreation Management Areas.
The Applegate Valley is also heavily dependent on tourism and recreation with beautiful hiking trails, wineries, bed and breakfasts, farm stays and other tourism related businesses dominating the rural economy. Due to this spectacular scenery and ease of access from Grants Pass, Jacksonville, Medford and Ashland, the Applegate Valley plays a vital role in providing year round outdoor recreation to both residents and visitors of the region. The Selma area also contains numerous scenic wineries, a large environmental education center, and abundant access to river, mountain and forest based recreation.
Currently, the Kerby Peak Trail traverse the Brewers Spruce ACEC including the upper portions of Kerby Peak and Little Grayback. The trail is known for its rocky Siskiyou Mountain high country, for botanical oddities and rare conifer species near Rabbit Lake, and lush old growth forest above the White Creek Trailhead. A favorite trail for local residents, the Kerby Peak Trail contains unique habitats and exceptional recreational opportunities.
A historic, but unofficial hiking trail also leads to the summit of Mungers Butte. The trail is popular with local residents in the Murphy, Williams, Selma and Grants Pass areas. This unofficial trail is the only existing recreational infrastructure in the Mungers Butte ERMA, but a series of old mining roads on the eastern face of Mungers Butte could be closed to motor vehicles and designated as non-motorized trails.
The Round Top Mountain area has been designated as an Extensive Recreation Management Area and as a Lands with Wilderness Characteristics (LWC). Currently no official trails or recreational facilities are found within the Round Top Mountain area, but an old 1930’s era, hiking trail built by the CCC to access the Manzanita Lookout site can still be followed through the eastern margin of the area. Round Top Mountain is the most remote and inaccessible portion of the Mungers Wildlands with the most pronounced wildland qualities. All recreation should be managed to benefit wildlife, biodiversity, and maintain the areas important wildland values.
Obviously the areas intact habitats create an abundance of high quality recreational opportunities. Due to the areas high scenic values, its relative accessibility and its location near numerous local communities, recreation in the area has the potential to significantly benefit the local recreation, tourism and amenities based economy.
The Late Mungers Timber Sale proposes commercial logging, potential road construction and other activities at the heart of the Munger Wildlands in the Mungers Butte Extensive Recreation Management Area. This logging will impact wildland values, recreational opportunities, scenic values and the thriving tourism and recreation economy. Recreational values should be prioritized in the Mungers Butte ERMA rather than degraded with incompatible industrial logging.