Forest officials oppose increase in speed limit at Applegate Lake

The Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest opposes a request to lift the 10-mph speed limit on Applegate Lake, saying the change flies against its long-standing approach of stressing "slow-paced" recreational activities there.

The main objective of the forest's Applegate Lake Management Plan is to provide for day-use activities in a "quiet environment" and low densities of people, forest spokesman Paul Galloway says.

Galloway calls the 10-mph speed limit "one of the managing principles" of the plan, and removing it would reduce the opportunity for slow-paced recreational activities sought by Applegate visitors.

The objections were contained in a letter sent Friday to the Oregon State Marine Board by forest Supervisor Rob MacWhorter.

Jordan Reich, a waterskier who has petitioned the Marine Board to lift the speed restriction to create new opportunities for waterskiers and personal watercraft riders, did not return calls seeking comment.

The forest's objection comes on the eve of a public meeting in Medford to gather input on the proposal, which so far has been widely panned by those who have commented to the Marine Board since the petition was accepted in early November. The meeting is set for 7 p.m. Monday at the Medford library, 205 S. Central Ave., in Medford.

The Marine Board has collected more than two dozen letters and more than 75 emails commenting on the subject, and "almost all were opposed to the petition," says Rachel Bullene, a Marine Board policy analyst working on the petition.

"Based on that, I'd expect that kind of turnout at the meeting," Bullene says.

The Marine Board will gather comments on the petition through 5 p.m. Dec. 31. It is set to consider the petition at a Jan. 9 meeting in Portland.

The petitioners say upping the speed limit would increase use of the lake's boating facilities, create more use of the waterway, decrease congestion at other area lakes and promote Applegate Valley businesses.

The proposal includes 5-mph no-wake zones around Harr Point Campground, French Gulch boat ramp, the cove area around Carberry Campground, and the Seattle Bar area, which is popular among swimmers and waders when the reservoir level is high.

More than 100 people signed an online petition for the speed change.

The reservoir was created by the damming of the Applegate River just north of the Oregon/California border.

The Forest Service, Corps, Marine Board and others were involved in the initial recreation management plan that led to the initiation of the 10-mph restriction that has been in place since the lake first filled.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or mfreeman@mailtribune.com.


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