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Congress Approves Sky Lakes Wilderness Area in 1984

The U.S. Congress in 1984 approved designation of the Sky Lakes Wilderness Area high in the Southern Oregon Cascades.

The nearly 181-square-mile area extends some 35 miles from Crater Lake National Park to Oregon Route 140.  Mount McLaughlin rises to 9,495 feet, towering above numerous small lakes and ponds that give the Sky Lakes Wilderness Area its name.

Long an area where early settlers and Indians came to pick summer huckleberries, its temperate season was too short for permanent settlement.  From 1860 through 1890, a wagon road passed through, joining Jacksonville and Fort Klamath, a route followed today by the Twin Ponds trail.

The Wilderness Preservation Act of 1964 moved the area toward wilderness status.  Five years later the Forest Service created a Sky Lakes Study Zone for consideration as a Wilderness Area. In the 1970s public hearings heard the usual concerns from lumber interests seeking timber, ranchers advocating summer grazing and others proposing access roads into the wild area.

Passions ran high.  After one hearing in Medford, a Lost Creek newspaper reporter, Larry Doll, was beaten up in the parking lot.
 

Sources: "Sky Lakes Wilderness.", Wikipedia Foundation, 19 Nov. 2016, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sky_Lakes_Wilderness. Accessed 24 Jan. 2017. "Man Assaulted at Close of Meeting." Medford Mail Tribune [clipping undated and without author or headline].

Alice Mullaly is a graduate of Oregon State and Stanford University, and taught mathematics for 42 years in high schools in Nyack, New York; Mill Valley, California; and Hedrick Junior High School in Medford. Alice has been an Southern Oregon Historical Society volunteer for nearly 30 years, the source of many of her “As It Was” stories.