The Desertification of Southern Oregon

Notes on the effect of excessive logging on a small watershed: Our forest farm is situated astraddle a narrow box canyon in the rugged Siskyou Mountains of Southern Oregon and sits less than a mile downstream from the headwaters of the creek that flows down our little canyon towards the mighty Rogue River. Our watershed covers about 400 acres of what used to be heavily forested steep terrain... In Southern Oregon, water is life and our creek brought life to this beautiful green canyon whose slopes were densely populated with tall Firs, Cedars and Sugar Pines interspersed with huge Oaks and Madrones that hadn't seen heavy logging since the late 1920's. It was our Eden and we worked hard over the years to improve and protect the riparian area along the creek, the wetland areas created by the many springs, and the health of our forest.

But we soon had a rude awakening when one of the three upstream private properties was purchased and heavily logged by timber speculators, leaving one face of the canyon denuded and damaged from running heavy equipment to drag the logs out. The springs dried up, the slope became a desert with only the hardiest of Oaks surviving... Our creek was clogged with sediment from erosion runoff in winter for several years and it's flow dropped by at least twenty percent in summer and never returned to past levels...

We once enjoyed the warm days of summer, falling asleep to the sound of the creek gurgling over the rocks and the scent of mockorange in bloom along its banks, but it is now with dread that we watch the days become hotter, baking the life force out of every living thing.

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