Cave Junction, OR -
Parts of the Babyfoot Lake Botanical Area, a protected reserve in southwestern Oregon's Siskiyou National Forest, have been discovered logged. The violation occurred as part of the Fiddler Old-Growth Reserve logging sale, which the Forest Service closed to the public for months in an attempt to squelch the protests and controversy that surrounded the logging.
The Babyfoot Lake Botanical Area was established by the Forest Service in 1963 to protect Brewer spruce (Picea breweriana), a rare, ancient conifer tree that have existed in the area since before the last Ice Age. Brewer's spruce are among the rarest conifers in North America, and were the last to be discovered and described by western science on the continent. The Babyfoot Lake Botanical Area was also created to protect other sensitive endemic plants such as the Tracy's desert parsley (Lupinus tracyi) and Purdy's Lewisia (Lewisia cotyledon ssp. purdyi). Botanists come from around the world to visit the Botanical Area.
The logging was discovered by long-time southern Oregon resident Barbara Ullian, after the Fiddler timber sale was opened to the public on August 1st. "I've been coming to the Babyfoot area for decades and have met people from half way around the world there," states Ullian. "The clearcuts in the Fiddler timber sale are bad enough without finding the Babyfoot Lake Botanical Area logged also."
The Siskiyou Project estimates that about fifteen to seventeen acres of the small, fragile high elevation Botanical Area has been heavily impacted by clearcut logging, road and landing construction and piling of logging debris. The Forest Service stated in writing that there would be no Biscuit project logging in Botanical Areas.
"There is no excuse for this kind of abuse," said Rolf Skar, campaign director of the Cave Junction based Siskiyou Project. "The cause of this violation can only be either gross incompetence or callousness - and neither is acceptable. This sort of logging free-for-all shows why the government needs more public oversight and accountability, not less."
"The Babyfoot Lake Botanical Area is loved by local folks and is important to our growing tourism economy" said Greg Walter, a local historian and tourism advocate. "This violation has damaged a very special place and damaged the government's relationship with locals. It just breeds distrust."
The Forest Service has admitted that this logging was "a serious error."
More information about Babyfoot Lake Botanical Area logging and photos can be found at: