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Saving Wellington: The Wildlands, Not the Beef

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Board of Directors of the Applegate Trails Association: David Calahan, Mike Kohn, Joshua Weber, Stuart Osmus. Photo courtesy of applegatetrails.org

What is the beef about the wildlands? I attended a showing at the Medford Library of two films, Saving Wellington produced by Greeley Wells and Ed Keller and Walking the Wild Applegate by Tim Lewis.

The first film was a documentary recently featured at the Ashland Independent Film Festival. The 22-minute visual tour of steep, sloping mountainsides, Douglas firs, red thistles, rolling green hills, and cumulous clouds reminds viewers of what Oregon is all about. A chance to recreate without motorized vehicles and to interact with nature serenely. Yet, the Wellington area is not yet protected. And it will take an act of Congress to do so.  

Wellington Wildlands is a 5,711-acre parcel, and the 1964 Wilderness Act states that 5,000 acres is the minimum necessary, and said land must have “outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation” to be considered wilderness—and argument that the film beautifully shows how the wildlands meet these criteria.

So what is stopping the area from being protected? The Bureau of Land Management thinks there is too much timber in “them thar hills.” The goal is to convince BLM that leaving the area alone will keep generations of fauna, flora and Americans happy. If constructed and logged, the potential for protection will disappear forever. For those interested in getting involved, Calahan suggests signing the petition, writing letters, putting up a yard sign for all to see or even joining the council. Ultimately, to protect these lands permanently it may take locals protesting and standing their ground.

The second film, also 22-minutes, Walking the Wild Applegate produced by the Applegate Trails Association took the audience on an 80-mile journey of Luke Ruediger and Josh Weber, an  Applegate Trails Association board member. Starting out in Ashland, these two trailblazers set out to make it to Grants Pass while admiring breathtaking views of the Klamath Siskiyou Mountains. The purpose was to see and experience for themselves the proposed Applegate Ridge Trail (ART). The ART would connect to the Jack-Ash trail and be a mini Pacific Crest Trail with beauty galore. The two hikers making the journey seemed to convince audience members (about 25 at the June 2 showing) that the trail, the film and the whole adventure is worth it. In fact, the East Applegate Ridge Trail is now open. But as all the national media diverts Americans attention to figuring out who said what to whom, it would be a tragedy to miss the local action and heroic effort to keep Oregon’s trees, trails and lands protected.

To learn more about both films, visit: AppleGateTrails.org and AppleGateNeighborhood.network/saving-wellington.

East Applegate Ridge Trail Directions: The east trailhead is located at the end of BLM road 38-2-29.1. If you are traveling on Highway 238 from Jacksonville toward the Applegate Valley, go approximately 2.8 miles to Jacksonville Summit.  At the Summit, take a LEFT onto Cady Road. (If you are driving on Highway 238 from the Murphy/Applegate side, take a RIGHT onto Cady Road.) Go 1/2 mile and turn right onto Sterling Creek Road. About 125 yards past the 4-mile marker on Sterling Creek Road turn right and proceed 0.6 miles to the trailhead. The access road is rough but passable for most vehicles.


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