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A Southern Oregon Community And The BLM Try To Overcome Mistrust

<p>BLM Field Manager Kristi Mastrofini (center) answers questions from community members.</p>

Liam Moriarty

BLM Field Manager Kristi Mastrofini (center) answers questions from community members.

Relations between federal land managers and residents of the Applegate Valley in southern Oregon have long been strained by disputes over the Bureau of Land Management’s forest plans.

With another large forestry project now under consideration, I went on a field trip with BLM staff and Applegate residents to look at the proposed Nedsbar timber sale on Bald Mountain.

Kristi Mastrofini, a field manager in the Medford, Oregon, office of the Bureau of Land Management, points the group toward our destination.

Another community member counters that people in the Applegate feel their forests are under attack by the BLM.

But Mastrofini says the bottom line is that BLM’s Resource Management Plan for this region designates this land as being in what’s called the “harvest base.” And that means it gets managed for timber harvest.

Later, after touring another area proposed for treatment – and after a few more touchy exchanges – the field trip ends. Lisman – the long-time Applegate resident – says he thinks the trip was worthwhile.

“I think that BLM people are listening,” he says. “I think they are going to take into consideration the desires of the community. I’m not saying that they’re going to accept them all, but I think that it may have some influence of the alternative that is selected.”

The BLM’s Mastrofini says she may well blend various aspects of the three action alternatives – including the community alternative – into her final decision. She says that decision on the Nedsbar proposal could come by the end of August.

What’s less certain is whether this level of community involvement will result in more public support for BLM projects in the Applegate.

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Liam Moriarty has been covering news in the Pacific Northwest for three decades. He served two stints as JPR News Director and retired full-time from JPR at the end of 2021. Liam now edits and curates the news on JPR's website and digital platforms.