Klamath County acquires public forest and regional tourism destination

Rising dramatically above Upper Klamath Lake in Southern
Oregon, Spence Mountain is home to oak and ponderosa pine woodlands, some of
the rarest habitats in the state, and more than 47 miles of biking trails.

As of this month, it’s protected forever. That’s thanks to
the Trust for Public Land, Klamath County, the Oregon Department of Forestry
and $4.6 million in federal funding from the U.S. Forest Service Forest Legacy
Program, administered through ODF.

“The Forest Legacy Program helps Oregon protect working
forests, drinking water sources and habitat for fish and wildlife.” said
Kelley Beamer, executive director of the Coalition of Oregon Land Trusts.
“Spence Mountain adds a gem to our network of protected lands, creating
expanded public access through hiking and biking trails. This project is a win
for communities, the local economy, and conservation.”

Spence Mountain is now publicly owned by Klamath County. Its
protection will have major economic and ecological benefits for the community.
The 7,500-acre community forest will provide outdoor access for community
members and recreationists. It will also preserve habitat for important species
and supporting sustainable timber harvest.

The project received unanimous support from the Klamath
County commissioners and U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley for its
appropriations from the Forest Legacy Program.

“Oregon’s public lands and forests are iconic and vital
in supporting the state’s economy, as well as addressing climate chaos,”
said Merkley. “I am pleased to see the economic and environmental benefits
this project will bring to the communities in Klamath County by supporting
sustainable timber harvesting, providing public recreation such as mountain
biking, and preserving habitats for endangered species.”