We protect the ecological loading dock to the Klamath-Siskiyou ark in southwestern Oregon and northwestern California.
“The Soda Mountain area is more than just botanically interesting. It is an important link for migration, dispersion, and the process of evolution in the Northwest…” Tom Atzet, Ph.D. – 30-year career SW Oregon Area Ecologist, USFS
The Klamath-Siskiyou eco-region of southwestern Oregon and northwestern California hosts the most botanically diverse coniferous forest in North America, if not the world. The area is veritable Noah’s Ark of botanical diversity. Connecting the Klamath-Siskiyou with the Cascade Range and Great Basin to the east is a narrow land bridge – a relatively undeveloped, relatively high elevation, ecological “loading dock” to the Klamath-Siskiyou ark that provides crucial biological connectivity between eco-regions.
Until recently, this land-bridge/loading-dock was known by its highest points, Soda Mountain and Pilot Rock. The mission of the Soda Mountain Wilderness Council is “To protect and promote wilderness in the Soda Mountain-Pilot Rock area where the botanically significant Siskiyou Mountains join the southern Cascade Range.” So far we’ve been pretty successful – with many conservation challenges and opportunities remaining:
• After years of piling up small administrative protections (Research Natural Areas, Areas of Critical Environmental Concern, a presidentially-recommended Wilderness Study Area, a first-ever Ecological Emphasis Area) -- 53,000 acres of the Soda Mountain-Pilot Rock area became the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in June 2000.
• In March 2010 we succeeded in getting over 24,000 acres of the Cascade-Siskiyou Monument’s backcountry congressionally designated as the Soda Mountain Wilderness.
• And after years of negotiations with local ranchers, we’ve succeeded in buying out and permanently retiring, by statute, over 61,000 acres of ecologically degrading public lands cattle grazing leases in and near the Monument and Wilderness – with more buyouts yet to come.
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