We need your help to protect the 1,100 acre Mildred Kanipe Memorial Park near Oakland, Oregon. On Jan. 8, the Douglas County Parks Advisory Board will make a recommendation to the Douglas County Commissioners to clearcut 20 acres of a native 100- to 150-year-old conifer forest in the Park. The sale could happen next month, so our actions are urgent.
While much of Kanipe Park is an oak savannah/woodland forest, there are 221 acres of native conifer forests identified as merchantable in a 2008 timber inventory taken by the current Douglas County Parks director.
The commissioners need to hear from you that clearcutting in any park, but especially Kanipe, is inappropriate.Come to the Commissioner's meeting, 9 am Wednesday, Jan. 8, Room 216, Douglas County Courthouse, 1036 SE Douglas, Roseburg, and/or e-mail Commissioner Robertson (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your thoughts. It's crucial that the commissioners know that a majority of the public is opposed to clearcutting any part of Kanipe Park!
There have been previous proposals to log Kanipe, but they were stopped by public opinion and by the terms of the Trust Mildred Kanipe set up to provide for this gift to the people of Douglas County. Her will stipulated: “No timber shall be cut or harvested except as may be necessary.” While Mildred did occasionally cut down trees when it made ecological sense to do so (something we don’t object to), clear cutting was not a management tool used or condoned by Mildred. In a book interview Mildred said, about cutting timber, “I wasn’t going to cut those trees, those fir trees. I was always crazy about trees.”
The park has been a draw for hikers, equestrians, students of plant and animal science, and nature lovers. But in August 2012 the county succeeded in dissolving the Trust, and now is free to convert all the conifer forests into plantations. The uniqueness of Kanipe will be lost; the attraction of visiting it will be greatly lessened and Mildred’s wishes will be swept aside.
The county says this clearcut is needed to finance a new campground, which will go a long way toward sustaining Kanipe Park financially. However, a clearcut is not necessary to do this. Concerned citizens have come up with another plan.It involves public contributions, in-kind donations, and grants. Since October 2013, more than $23,000 in pledges and cash has been donated from people throughout the state, with significant additional in-kind donations.
There are doable solutions to keeping Mildred Kanipe Park a beautiful park, with a campground and without a clearcut. The county parks department has chosen not to consider using a state grant created specifically to help build campgrounds or a State Park mechanism created specifically to help financially strapped county parks. With your help, we can convince the County Commissioners to do the right thing. Come to the meeting January 8 or e-mail Doug Robertson, the county commissioner that oversees park management.
Key issues include:
• The county doesn’t need to log the park. People are fundraising to pay for the campground. This is a remarkable public effort that the commissioners should welcome. Once the money is raised for the campground, the Commissioners should not clearcut, especially without adopting a long-term management plan for the Park.
• Mildred Kanipe Park is the only county park required to be self-supporting. The parks director believes timber money should support the park, so he has chosen not to use other revenue opportunities, like donation boxes, parking fees, the Opportunity Grant, General Fund money, or options to move Kanipe Park into the Oregon State Parks system. The county should not be so quick to clearcut without pursuing all reasonable alternatives.
• Converting the old, native conifer forests in the park to young plantations means it must be “managed” on a continual basis. (It is impossible to replant 400 trees per acre and then never log it again). The public would prefer to recreate in real forests, not managed tree-farm.
• The proposal includes building an expensive new logging road, mapped to go through the heart of the park, replacing parts of Fern Woods Trail. Large oaks would need to be cut down and the native-surface trail would be graveled. It would be unsightly and lead park visitors right into the clearcut.
• The new road will travel over a stream that feeds Bachelor Creek, a salmon bearing tributary of the Umpqua. Crossing the stream requires building on steep, erodible hillsides, with a new culvert, needing a lifetime of road maintenance. Once the trees are cut and gone (perhaps exported), how will the county fund the logging road maintenance? Will it be added to the annual cost of maintaining the Park? This cost is not in the plan.
• The County plans to aerial spray herbicides on the new clearcut for several years. How will this herbicide impact people using the park, especially people drawn into the clearcut area, via the new road, after it is sprayed? How will it impact the neighbors?
• In a book interview Mildred said: “Most everybody told me, if you’d cut that timber, you would have some grass… But I wasn’t going to cut those trees, those fir trees, I was always crazy about trees…. Nope, I said, I ain’t gonna cut them trees.” Mildred also loved her oak trees. She said: “I’m just like the oak trees… I’m rooted in here so deep there’s just no movin’ me.”