Click for original Winter/Spring 2011 article
Proposed Rezoning Threatens Panther Meadows
A private corporation has applied to rezone approximately 771 acres (more than a square mile)( on the slopes of Mount Shasta between Panther Meadows and Bunny Flat. The rezoning could allow the land to be subdivided, and later potentially developed through further rezoning for commercial or recreational development. This is the very same large parcel of land on which "Lemuria Village" was proposed in the 1980s as a condominium/shopping center that would have been part of the ski resort we battled for ten years from 1988-1998. As a result of those efforts, the Forest Service ended up withdrawing the permit.
We still feel just a strongly about protecting this especially sacred area on Mount Shasta, and have written a comment letter to the County Planning Division that is considering the rezoning proposal.
MOUNT SHASTA BIOREGIONAL ECOLOGY CENTER
P. O. Box 1143 • Mount Shasta, CA 96067 • Phone & Fax 530.926.5655 • email firstname.lastname@example.org
Honoring and Protecting Our Mountain Environment since 1988
Via Electronic Transmission
May 27, 2011
Siskiyou County Public Health & Community Development — Planning Division
Attention: Ms Vurl Trytten <email@example.com>
cc: Greg Plucker <firstname.lastname@example.org>
806 South Main Street
Yreka, CA 96097
Re: Roseburg application for rezoning of about 770 acres of TPZ lands in Sections 5 and 32
Dear Ms. Trytten:
We are writing in order to address the rezoning request by Roseburg Forest Products (RFP) to
change the status of approximately 770 acres of Timber Production (TPZ) lands to Rural
Residential Agricultural 40-acre (RRB40) high on the slopes of Mount Shasta. We have only
recently learned of this proposed action, and are surprised that the public hasn’t been notified
since this proposal has been in the works for at least several months.
The Mount Shasta Bioregional Ecology Center is a grassroots nonprofit organization founded
in 1988. Our constituency is broad based because the large pristine landscapes we work to protect are vitally important to people near and far, as well as to Native American cultures, as
places of renewal, sources of pure water, and rich biodiversity. Over 4,000 people over the past
two decades have expressed to us their deep caring about the preservation of Mount Shasta.
We have been involved with matters concerning Mount Shasta and its environs since 1988.
Preserving the Mountain in its natural grandeur is of paramount importance to our local
communities, to Native Americans, and to people from all over the world.
We stand in strong opposition to the rezoning of these timberlands and urge Siskiyou
County to deny this proposal. We encourage RFP, the Forest Service and the County to look
at other options that are consistent with the pristine beauty that distinguishes Mount Shasta
as a sacred mountain and world-class destination. We want to work in cooperation with all
concerned toward a solution, and we are therefore giving our input now so that there can be
a meaningful discussion in which the overall good is considered before commitments are
While we understand that no Notice has been sent out to the public about this proposed
action, we are sending comments on behalf of the public interest that our organization
represents. We strongly affirm that the public is a stakeholder in this matter. We are
concerned that deals and promises are perhaps being made behind closed doors without
the benefit of input from the affected public, and that this could foreclose a more cooperative
solution. Therefore we are sending these comments and are asking for a transparent and
cooperative process that takes into account the full impacts of the proposed action.
THE SUPERLATIVE VALUE OF MOUNT SHASTA TO VISITORS FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD
Mount Shasta is a world-class destination for visitors from around the world, as well as a
recognized major sacred site for Native Americans near and far. Travelers, nature lovers,
spiritual seekers, backcountry skiers and hikers visit the Mountain because of its pristine
beauty and grandeur. The fact that it rises high above the encroachments of civilization gives
visitors a timeless and unique experience that is healing, inspiring and unforgettable.
There are many reasons why high elevation residential or commercial development would not
be a good idea especially on this side of the Mountain that is known as a major spiritual,
cultural and backcountry recreational attraction.
IMPACTS TO MOUNT SHASTA AND ITS RESOURCES REQUIRE AN EIR/EIS
The proposed action has many potential impacts and unknowns, and all eventualities need to
be considered. Dividing the Roseburg timberland into as much as 20 parcels (with a potential
for 40 houses and guest houses) could result in multiple ownerships and would invite
conflicting uses to this side of the Mountain. Under the California Environmental Quality Act
(CEQA), an action that is controversial and has the potential for significant impacts must
undergo environment review leading to an Environmental Impact Report (EIR). Because the
proposed action could also affect public lands, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)
will come into play in the form of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), and the
requirement would be for a combined EIR/EIS.
The impacts of rezoning this remote environmentally sensitive area from a zone that limited
development to a zone that would encourage development would be very controversial and
bring potentially significant impacts, which are enumerated below.
IMPACTS ON CULTURAL AND HISTORIC SITE AND DISTRICT
Panther Meadows, the feature adjacent to which the rezoning is being considered, is
particularly sacred to Native Americans and visitors from around the world, and is made
especially vulnerable by the proposed rezoning. The Mount Shasta Cosmological District and
Panther Meadows Native American Ceremonial Site—designated by the National Register of
Historic Places—could potentially be greatly affected by the proposed rezoning.
IMPACTS ON THE FOREST
In view of the critical role forests play in enhancing watershed and habitat health, it does not
make any sense to convert forested lands to development. Introducing incompatible uses
could alter the forest structure, interrupt ecological processes, increase the potential for
invasive species, disease and insect infestations, increase fire danger, and promote rural
IMPACTS ON THE WATER AND WATERSHED
Mount Shasta is a major source of waters for all of California, and it is vitally important to
keep our water sources pure. There needs to be disclosure of potential water use and
wastewater discharges. The volcanic structure of the underlying aquifer is extremely
unpredictable, and elsewhere water sources have been known to disappear into lava tubes as a
result of drilling (Grass Lake in our region may be such an example). We believe that
insufficient hydrogeologic mapping has been done to adequately evaluate the effects of the
project and other draws on the hydrology of Mount Shasta, and such mapping would need to
be done as part of the EIS/EIR process.
An OTT Report (located at the College of the Siskiyous Library’s Mount Shasta Collection)
shows that the soils in this area do not have the capability to properly percolate sewage due to
their porosity. The sections below Panther Meadows are vital to the water systems of a large
area of Mount Shasta. Any disturbance or contamination could have significant impacts both
to the underlying aquifer, which to our knowledge has not been mapped or studied, and also
to community water supplies.
Views from the high slopes of Mount Shasta, from the Mount Shasta Wilderness, National
Landmark, Native American Cosmological District, from Panther Meadows, Bunny Flat, Grey
Butte, Sargent’s Ridge, Shastarama Point, Green Butte, and many other well-loved places
could be impacted by the proposed rezoning. Development would change the scenic quality of
the Mountain by changing the vegetation, the colors, the forests and character of the area.
We are also concerned about the view shed and its potential impacts on the Volcanic Legacy
The South County communities surrounding Mount Shasta rely on the Mountain as the prime
attraction of the area, drawing people from all over the world. Visitors stay in the inns and
motels of these communities, eat in their restaurants, purchase hiking, skiing and snowboarding equipment, shop in local stores...just to mention a few economic benefits of the
Mountain’s value in its natural state. High elevation development could impact the
Mountain’s attractiveness to the many visitors who seek untrammeled views and an absence
of manmade intrusions.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND GROWTH ARE MISPLACED IN AREAS REMOTE FROM EXISTING
The rezoning could encourage land speculation along the Everett Memorial corridor and
would promote random development. It is doubtful that insurance could be obtained in an
area prone to avalanches.
Furthermore it could have considerable financial impact and place additional burdens on
county and city infrastructures, taxes and equipment that could include additional snow
removal, fire protection, and rescues during intense storms.
SIGNIFICANT RISK OF REPEATED AVALANCHES
It is an historically documented fact that a major massive avalanche swept through the
northeast corner of the Roseburg land, destroying 300 year old trees and closing Everett
Memorial Highway for months.
PUBLIC RECREATIONAL EASEMENTS IN SECTIONS 5 AND 32
In Roseburg’s application, it is stated, "RFP experiences heavy public use that is inconsistent
with our long term timber management, thus it will be a likely candidate for HBU sale in the
near future." This means that the public in all seasons has used and continues to use roads
and trails for recreational purposes. These uses have extended for at least 50 years. If the
public uses RFP’s land heavily, then by law it has acquired a public recreational easement
across it and the right to continue using it forever. The trails and areas so used should be
mapped out in the environmental study.
While the rezoning may look innocuous at first glance, it potentially could open doors, not
only to residential, but also to commercial development. The process may not be piecemealed
under CEQA or NEPA, and the full scope of possibilities to which the action could lead must
A RANGE OF ALTERNATIVES
Alternatives to the proposed rezoning must be considered. These could comprise various
possibilities for land exchanges, including exchanges with parcels not on Mount Shasta,
through a cooperative effort with the Forest Service, land trusts, and local nonprofits.
Thank you for your consideration of our input. We request to be notified in writing of any
decision on the proposal and of any environmental review that may be initiated. We want to
reiterate our hopes for a cooperative process that will bring this issue to a harmonious
cc: Sharon Heywood, Forest Supervisor, Shasta-Trinity National Forests
Dwight Dutschke, California State Historic Preservation Office
Winnemem Wintu Tribe
Pit River Tribe
Native Coalition for Cultural Preservation of Mount Shasta
For original Winter/Spring 2011 article: