Letters at Length

It's our water; we should protect it

I have lived in Ashland for 22 years. I raised two sons here who were avid skiers and snowboarders. I supported the first "Save Mount Ashland" event in 1991. I do not oppose upgrades of our local ski area, but I strongly oppose the Mount Ashland expansion that is proposed.

First, only a small percentage of our population uses Mount Ashland to ski and snowboard, although many of us use it for other recreation. But 100 percent of our Ashland population drinks water.

We are blessed to have such good quality drinking water. We cannot take it for granted!

With the highly erosive granite soil of the watershed, we have already seen problems with increased sediment in our reservoir. Who would pay for new sediment removal? Ashland taxpayers.

As well, we have had many winters where the snow levels were not profitable. I cannot see that in this economy, taking such a gamble would benefit more than a few.

Some great ideas for upgrading the ski area would be rebuilding the lodge, having parking on the lower access road and running shuttles every half hour. There are lots of needed improvements to equipment already aging that need to be made before expansion is realistic.

The U.S. Forest Service study done in 2004 does not stand up. In 2007, a federal appeals court ruled that the Forest Service violated environmental laws when it approved the ski area expansion. In particular, the agency failed to protect landslides from development, did not protect soils in the restricted Ashland watershed, and ignored impact to the fish and its habitat.

Right now, all we are asking is that the proposed cutting not begin until the appeals have been heard in court.

It's our water. We have a responsibility to protect it.

Ara Johnson


Learn about local climate change effects

Projections of what the climate in the Rogue Valley might be during the rest of this century suggest that by 2035-2045 the average annual temperature may well be between 1 and 3 degrees Fahrenheit higher, and by 2075-2085 between 4 and 8 degrees higher than the historical (1961 to 1990) record.

Summers, meanwhile, on average are likely to be between 2 and 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit hotter by 2035-2045 and some 5.5 to nearly 12 degrees Fahrenheit hotter by 2075-2085. Winter temperatures are projected to show less of an increase, trending upwards from 1.5 to about 3 degrees Fahrenheit by 2035 -2045 and 3.5 to 6 degrees Fahrenheit by 2075-2085.

For the same future periods, precipitation projections are more variable, ranging from a 4-inch annual drop to about the same as historically by 2035-2045 and then ranging from a 5.5-inch drop to nearly a 12-inch increase by 2075-2085. Summer patterns for both periods in the future indicate markedly reduced precipitation totals while the winter months may vary from a slight drop to a slight increase.

The projections indicate trends that should be of great interest to anyone involved in agriculture or forestry, or interested in the future of the region's natural resources.

Area residents interested in learning more about climate change and its potential local impacts should consider attending Ashland's Car Free Day, 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 22, on Oak Street downtown between Lithia and Main streets where a climate change booth will be offering more information. If you are interested, please come by and sign up to receive alerts about future local events and activities.

Alan Journet


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