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(Editor’s Note: Views and commentary, including statements made as fact are strictly those of the letter writers.)
Open Letter to the Bureau of Land Management:
My wife and I visit the French Flat area off of Rockydale Road in the Illinois Valley frequently. A few days ago we set out on our walk and saw the beautiful job the BLM did in thinning the forest there. We want to give a big thank-you to the BLM for doing a great job of forest management in this patch of forest that is so critical to the wildlife (it provides a passage between the East Fork and the West Fork of the Illinois River) of our Valley, and for people looking for a close connection with the forest.
This thinning project is EXACTLY the kind of treatment all of our forests need. The thinning that was done removed smaller trees and an overabundance of brush and left the larger trees intact. This project falls right in line with Biden’s call-to-action to preserve our more mature forests to provide carbon sinks and fire resiliency. I’m sure the residents of Rockdale Road appreciate a safer buffer for their homes.
If you haven’t visited this area in a while, take a trip out to the yellow gate near the 4 mile to 5 mile-post on Rockydale Road. It’s a relatively flat, easy walk for most and an opportunity to see what our forests could be; healthier and safer.
“Weeds” sprayed in Forks State Park
For the attention of State Agency staff,
Photo posted at the conclusion of the letter show blackberries growing within 20 feet of the summer flow channel, along the main public path to the river are now dying. This spray event occurred in the most heavily used Illinois River access point in Josephine County.
I understand from locals that the spray event took place on Thursday, June 23 2022, just two days prior to the largest annual festival event held at Forks State Park, called ‘Hathkapasuta.’ Many hundreds of people walked past this site on that weekend, mostly families.
I have the following questions:
• Is there a Vegetation Management Plan for all State Public Lands, and specifically for Forks State Park?
• Does this practice adhere to State Park vegetation management standards?
• How did this action meet with State Parks regulatory approval?
• In this approval process, what is the time period after which the public may safely be granted close proximate access to the areas where pesticide spraying has been conducted?
• Who is responsible for conducting this public poisoning event?
• Can we expect our public parks to be sprayed in this way again next spray season?
• What is the consequence of public park management practices that fail to protect public health, ESA listed salmon spawning habitat and the public water supply?
• Does your agency believe that the Public has any role in this decision-making process? If so, how has your agency conducted public inquiry in Josephine County?
Thank you for this opportunity for public involvement in our State public lands management.
Christine Perala Gardiner, PhD