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environment | forest defense

Small Oregon Town Endeavors to Protect its Future

The rural community of Williams in Southern Oregon is striving to prevent an imminent clear-cut on a privately owned 320 acres. This parcel is perched atop a prominent ridge in the Williams Creek watershed, located in the Applegate Valley, and serves as the headwaters for three major contributing streams.
The community has united as the non-profit organization Williams Community Forest Project (WCFP) to purchase the land. The owner of this parcel, Michael Riggs, of Meridian Idaho, has offered, through his representative, that he would sell the land for $1,500,000. Mr. Riggs has repeatedly spurned efforts to talk directly with the group. Despite efforts to show that the community is fully committed to the purchase of this land, logging activity has begun as of February 11th. The timber will be shipped to China and processed into particle board, therefore providing a very limited number of local jobs.

Williams is home to the largest medicinal herb tincture manufacturer in the nation, Herb Pharm. There are many organic farms, vegetable seed producers, and ranches, along with numerous small cottage industry businesses and homesteads throughout the valley. The economic and ecological repercussions on the community and local businesses would have a prolonged impact. Widespread erosion resulting from the logging, as well as the application of pesticides in the following years to eliminate competing vegetation, will permanently impact the quality of water flowing from the headwaters.

In contrast, the economic, educational, and recreational opportunities resulting from the purchase of this land are enormous. The sustainable production and utilization of forest products, such as timber for lumber, poles, and firewood, would provide a source of local jobs. This area has traditionally been an area to wild-craft herbs and mushrooms in its riparian areas and drainages. Contiguous with the Kangaroo Roadless Area, hikers and equestrians would have miles of forest to explore, with opportunities to connect to the Siskiyou Crest and the Pacific Crest Trail.
This ridge functions as the main south to north wildlife corridor for migrating bears, mountain lions, and birds of prey. The threatened Pacific Fisher and Red Tree Voles are resident here and it is prime foraging and nesting habitat for the regal Northern Spotted Owl. The rare Port Orford cedar tree is found in healthy stands along fern lined drainages, while majestic, stately old-growth Ponderosa pine and Douglas-fir stands are interspersed with a diverse understory.

The WCFP is fervently intensifying its fundraising and media campaign to procure the necessary funds and raise public awareness about the plight of our threatened woodlands. Thus far, the community has been pledged a substantial loan from a private group and raised $120,000 from grassroots fundraising. Further information can be obtained at the WCFP website, www.williamscommunityforestproject.org, or through an inspiring ten-minute film posted at www.indiegogo.com/Wiliiams-Community-Forest-Project where direct, tax-deductible donations can be made. Donations may also be sent to WCFP, P.O. Box 36, Williams OR 97544.

homepage: homepage: http://www.indiegogo.com/Wiliiams-Community-Forest-Project