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Conservation group gets grant to buy over 1,000 acres of Mt. Ashland forest

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Jes Burns
/
OPB/EarthFix
File photo of meadows on Mount Ashland.

Over 1000 acres of crucial habitat on Mt. Ashland will be preserved through a large grant to a nonprofit conservation group.

The Pacific Forest Trust has been awarded a $1.1 million state grant by the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board to buy the land. The property connects the Rogue Siskiyou National Forest and the Cascade Siskiyou National Monument. By conserving it, the land can remain a connected habitat for species living in the area.

The land provides important habitat for protected species such as the northern spotted owl, coastal marten and Pacific fisher. It also contains important watersheds and its conservation will preserve water quality as well as protect coho salmon and steelhead.

Connie Best is the co-founder of the Pacific Forest Trust. She says this purchase is important because if the private land goes to other buyers, it could damage habitat for protected species.

“Wildlife don't know or care about our artificial ownership boundaries,” says Best. “So the issue with private land forests is that larger properties get broken up and developed, fragmenting habitats.”

The Pacific Forest Trust says that the forest will be actively managed to prevent large wildfires and to improve habitats.

“ What we are going to do is some ecologically appropriate light logging to thin the forest,” says Best. “It's overstocked as compared to older forest conditions.”

The land is currently owned by the Siskiyou Timberlands.

Sophia Prince is a reporter and producer for JPR News. She began as JPR’s 2021 summer intern through the Charles Snowden Program for Excellence in Journalism. She graduated from the University of Oregon with a BA in journalism and international studies.