Comments Submitted by SOCAN to the Josephine County Board of Commissioners on the Pipe Fork

Comments submitted to the Josephine County Board of Commissioners encouraging them to sell forest along the Pipe Fork to Williams Community Forest Project to be conserved rather than to loggers with an obvious and inevitably negative outcome.

I write as cofacilitator of Southern Oregon Climate Action Now (SOCAN – https://socan.eco/) an organization of over 2,000 Southern Oregonians, many of whom live in Josephine County, in relation to the discussions regarding Pipe Fork. The focus of SOCAN, of course, is on protecting our local environment from the threat posed by global warming and its climate change consequences. In relation to this goal, we find ourselves frequently supportive of other organizations with slightly different missions. It is in this vein that we find ourselves supporting the Williams Community Forest project in their effort to protect the forest of Pipe Fork from logging. Our reasons are outlined below.

Josephine County boasts many natural communities deserving protection. Not least among these is Pipe Fork which exhibits value exceeding its acreage.

The Siskiyou Mountains provide us with unique natural biodiversity (USDA undated). This results from the meeting of northern cooler moister regions and warmer drier southern regions (Copeland & Harrison 2015). Our Siskiyous support species originating from these two bioregions (Harrison et al. 2010). In addition, the serpentine rocks underlying the Siskiyous have conferred upon these soils a high concentration of nickel, chromium, and cobalt, and low concentrations of calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and nitrogen (Rajakaruna & Boyd 2014, Aziz et al. 2015, Blackmore & Sianta 2019). This combination results in soils composed of toxic heavy metals and nutrient deficiency, a soil that is unsuitable for many plant species. Consequently, many species have evolved in and are restricted to this region.

The Siskiyous therefore support an incredible diversity of species. We should value the biodiversity that our area supports and serve as guardians of our corner of global biodiversity. An excellent route to protecting this biodiversity is to conserve the forests of Pipe Fork.

We understand that not everyone accepts climate science that indicates emissions of greenhouse gases contribute to global warming and climate change threatening life as we know it on this planet. However, for those accepting the science, we suggest that old growth forests that sequester carbon from our atmosphere (e.g., Anderson M, 2021), such as those along Pipe Fork, comprise excellent locations for countering the climate crisis.

As a result, we suggest that the sale of Pipe Fork to the Williams Community Forest Project constitutes a win-win outcome for the residents of Josephine County since it protects a beautiful area and the biodiversity it supports and provides the county with income.

Alan Journet

Cofacilitator
Southern Oregon Climate Action Now

 

Literature Cited:

Anderson M 2021 Wild Carbon: A Synthesis of Recent Findings on Carbon Storage in Old Forests. International Journal of Wilderness. https://ijw.org/wild-carbon-storage-in-old-forests/

Aziz R, Rahim S, Sahid I, Idris W 2015 Speciation and Availability of Heavy Metals On Serpentinized Paddy Soil and Paddy Tissue. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences 195 ( 2015 ) 1658 – 1665. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/282556963_Speciation_and_Availability_of_Heavy_Metals_On_Serpentinized_Paddy_Soil_and_Paddy_Tissue

Blackmore N, Sianta S. 2019. Serpentine Endemic Plants: Understanding Endemism in Stressful Soils. Kenneth Norris Center for Natural History. https://norriscenter.ucsc.edu/events/blog/serpentine-endemics.html

Copeland S, Harrison S. 2015 Identifying plant traits associated with topographic contrasts in a rugged and diverse region. Ecography 38: 569-577. https://nsojournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/do i/epdf/10.1111/ecog.00802

Harrison S, Damschen E, Grace J. 2010. Ecological contingency in the effects of climatic warming on forest herb communities. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 107(45): 19362–19367.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2984146/

Rajakaruna N. Boyd R. 2014. Serpentine Soil. Oxford Bibliographies in Ecology (2014). https://scholarworks.sjsu.edu/biol_pub/53/

USDA undated About the Forest. USDA Forest Service. https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/rogue-siskiyou/about-forest/?cid=stelprdb5305069

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