Economic Benefits & Ecosystem Services

Protecting the Siskiyou Crest region would be good for the land, good for the climate, good for the people of the region, and good for the local economy.

The Siskiyou Crest region’s scenic beauty supports numerous recreational benefits and sustains amenities-based businesses, including award winning and esteemed wineries, restaurants, recreational supply stores, lodging and accommodation businesses, and more. The world-famous Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), the popular East Applegate Ridge Trail, the Sterling Mine Ditch Trail (an Oregon State Scenic Trail), the Ashland Watershed trailsystem, the Boundary National Recreation Trail, the Middle Fork National Recreation Trail, the Clear Creek National Recreation Trail, the South Kelsey National Recreation Trail, and many more remote backcountry trails draw recreational users from throughout the region and beyond. In fact, approximately 64 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail traverse the region from Seiad Valley to near Interstate 5 Siskiyou Summit along the spine of the Siskiyou Crest.

The area’s spectacular rivers, streams and lakes also provide a myriad of recreational opportunities for visitors, including world-class fisheries, top-notch rafting and kayaking, deep, clear swimming holes bound in bedrock, backcountry hunting, and camping along cold mountain streams. 

backpacking in the Red Buttes Wilderness in the Siskiyou Crest region

Located at 4,000′ on the Siskiyou Crest in the Illinois River watershed, the highly popular Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve is managed by the National Park Service. The Monument easily attracts upwards of 80,000 visitors a year, bringing much needed tourism dollars to the rural community of Cave Junction in the Illinois Valley. With expanded public-lands protection, Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve could be linked into the Red Buttes Wilderness giving more robust protections for the adjoining habitats in the Kangaroo Inventoried Roadless Area and surrounding areas.

The Woodrat Mountain area and the Applegate Valley provide internationally renowned paragliding from numerous developed launch sites. This includes the annual Applegate Open competition, with participants who travel from around the world to compete. The paragliding launch sites are located on BLM land, and landing sites are provided collaboratively by local ranches, wineries, farms and other residential or agricultural property owners.

Bolan Lake

Agriculture is also important to the Applegate Valley and Illinois River Valley, where world-class wineries, small organic farms, family farms, ranches, medicinal herb farms, lavender farms on the Applegate Lavender Trail, and other forms of agriculture provide livelihoods for local residents and support a thriving local farm, farm stand, and farm stay economy. The beautiful natural environment, healthy rivers and streams, and abundant water supply in the region are essential to the survival of local farms, ranches, and vineyards.

Perhaps the largest economic generator in the area’s rural economy is the Rogue Valley wine industry, supporting over 3 dozen wineries, of which 19 are on the Applegate Wine Trail. A growing cider industry lends alternative tasting rooms for visitors in the area. Both the dynamic wine and cider industries rely on clean water and scenic beauty to support their growth. The local recreation, agriculture, and amenities-based economy helps to attract visitors to rural areas and nearby towns to enjoy food, lodging and the Siskiyou Crest’s unique recreational experience.

Some of southwestern Oregon and northwestern California’s most popular hiking trails and outdoor recreational experiences can be found in the Siskiyou Crest region, and the rural economies benefit from the protection of the natural environment, scenic beauty, and biodiversity.

As the crow flies, the spine of the Siskiyou Crest is 7 miles from Ashland, Oregon and its thriving tourism economy based on theater, fine dining, outdoor recreation and a scenic mountain atmosphere. The city of Ashland also benefits from abundant hiking and mountain biking trails on adjacent public lands, many of which lead to the Pacific Crest Trail and the high country of the Siskiyou Crest. The small towns of Talent and Phoenix, as well as the population center of southwest Oregon, Medford, are less than 20 miles from the Siskiyou Crest high country. Historic Jacksonville, home of the Britt Festival and gateway to the Applegate Wine Trail, has an extensive recreational trail system in nearby Forest Park, with proposals to link these trails into the Siskiyou Crest trail system.

picnicking in the Siskiyou Crest region with unbeatable views

The communities of northwest California would also benefit from the ecosystem service-based advantages associated with forest and watershed protections and enhanced fisheries of the Siskiyou Crest region, as well as protection of the area’s intact public lands, unique biodiversity and rugged, remote mountainous terrain. On the western side of the Siskiyou Crest, small communities like Gasquet, California are benefited by the Smith River National Recreation Area, which is extremely popular with whitewater rafters, kayakers and anglers, and is located adjacent to the world-renowned Redwood National and State Parks. These areas could be connected to adjacent public land protections on the Siskiyou Crest providing more recreational opportunities to explore. Additionally, towns like Yreka, along the I-5 corridor would benefit from increased visitation and monetary spending associated with outdoor recreation in the backcountry of the nearby Siskiyou Crest.

By increasing small business opportunities associated with fishing, rafting, hunting, horse packing, hiking, and other guide services and amenities, such as food, gas and lodging, local communities would also benefit in more remote communities, including those along the Klamath River. The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) traverses Seiad Valley, bringing a seasonal influx of local, regional, national, and international visitors to the area and economic stimulus from ecotourism associated with the PCT. Happy Camp and Orleans, California are access points to many spectacular trails, campgrounds, and watersheds. The area is also renowned for its river rafting and fishing along the Klamath River, which will benefit from the planned upstream dam removals, the largest river restoration effort ever undertaken in the country’s history, and in the future, by the protection of additional cold water tributaries for the benefit of Klamath River fisheries.

East Applegate Ridge Trail East Applegate Ridge Trail

Some of southwestern Oregon and northwestern California’s most popular hiking trails and outdoor recreational experiences can be found in the Siskiyou Crest region, and the rural economies benefit from the protection of the natural environment, scenic beauty, and biodiversity.

The Bigfoot Trail, a conceptual long distance hiking trail promoted by the Bigfoot Trail Alliance and currently included in legislation drafted by Representative Jared Huffman as a National Recreation Trail, also traverses the region. The proposed trail would connect together existing hiking trails and backcountry roads to traverse northwest California’s Klamath Mountains. The 360-mile Bigfoot Trail was originally proposed in 2009 as a suggested route to navigate the range from south to north, including a 104-mile section across the western Siskiyou Crest to the Pacific Ocean at Crescent City, California. The goal was to highlight and introduce nature lovers and backcountry hikers to the biodiversity of the Klamath-Siskiyou Mountains. If designated, the proposed Bigfoot Trail would add yet another nationally recognized trail for the Siskiyou Crest region.

If public lands in the Siskiyou Crest region were better managed for biological and cultural values, opportunities to develop small businesses focused on restoration, recreation, responsible habitat management, cultural burning and other forms of indigenous land management would increase, helping to create jobs, sustain local economies, and maintain cultural ties to the Siskiyou Crest region, while protecting the area’s unique natural environment, remote character and rural restoration and recreation economy. The Wild and Scenic Klamath River and the surrounding wilderness areas attract significant recreational use to the area, but could be more effectively managed through a more unified and comprehensive management plan for public lands that protects the area’s natural and cultural values.

Klamath RiverKlamath River

Native American Tribes and communities with ancestral homelands in the Siskiyou Crest region could also significantly benefit from management in the Siskiyou Crest region that would support water quality, watersheds, and fisheries in the Klamath and Rogue River watersheds.

Native American tribal communities with ancestral homelands in the Siskiyou Crest region could also significantly benefit from management in the Siskiyou Crest region that would support water quality, watersheds, and fisheries in the Klamath and Rogue River watersheds, including major tributary streams that provide clean, cold water into the larger river basins. Tribal co-management could facilitate better access for ceremonial use, and ceremonial sites could also be more effectively managed if new management plans and habitat protections were tailored specifically to support appropriate cultural and ceremonial uses, gathering opportunities, and the application of traditional ecological knowledge for the benefit of both tribal and ecological values.

By increasing habitat protections and shifting management objectives to focus on biodiversity, connectivity, fisheries and the continued reintroduction of fire and cultural burning as a natural process, funding for local habitat restoration projects could increase in the Siskiyou Crest region, while the integrity of the process, along with the quality of restoration projects, could also increase. By eliminating timber quotas, requirements to extract commercial products, and the continued timber bias of federal land managers, Tribal co-management in the Siskiyou Crest region — working cooperatively with public land management agencies and the public — could help guide conservation, restoration, recreation and the cultural and ceremonial uses of public lands in the Siskiyou Crest region into the future.

Efforts to protect and restore the environment on the Siskiyou Crest will have significant benefits to the surrounding communities and will help to sustain both the rural, urban and tribal economies of southwestern Oregon and northwestern California.

The Siskiyou Crest Coalition has supported, and will continue to support strategic LandBack efforts in the Siskiyou Crest region, including the recent return of Katimîin & Ameekyàaraam to the Karuk Tribe in Humboldt and Siskiyou Counties along the Klamath River. President Biden signed the Katimiîn and Ameekyáaraam Sacred Lands Act (KASL Act) into law on January 5, 2023. This historic law returned 1,200 acres of sacred ancestral lands to the Karuk Tribe, including Á›uuyich, a sacred mountain, as well as the Karuk Tribe’s ‘center of the world,’ Katimiîn.

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