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Freeman honored by Outdoor Writers

Mail Tribune outdoor writer Mark Freeman with a northern pike caught in Vermont during the Outdoor Writers Association of America conference Oct. 6 at Jay Peak, Vermont. Photo by Mark Taylor

Mail Tribune outdoor writer Mark Freeman was awarded a lifetime achievement award for conservation writing by the Outdoor Writers Association of America.

Freeman was given OWAA’s Jade of Chief’s award Oct. 6 at its annual conference in Jay Peak, Vermont.

The Jade Award represents prolonged excellence in communicating about fish and wildlife conservation issues. It has been awarded since 1962, and new winners are nominated by, and voted in, by past recipients.

The OWAA started in 1927 and is the largest and oldest association of professional outdoor communicators in North America. Freeman has been a member since 1993.

Freeman also won three other awards, two for newspaper articles and one for the “Oregon Outdoors“ series that runs weekly on the RosebudChannel and KTVL.

Freeman won second place in newspaper conservation writing for “Turtle Town,” a package on Western pond turtle surveys in Squaw Lakes.

He also won a second place in youth participation with a story on Siskiyou Mountain Club rookies rehabbing wilderness trails in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness Area.

Freeman won third place in youth participation in the television category for “Brown Powder,” a show on high-school ski-racers training off-season on mountain bikes.

Hike up Kerby Peak planned

The Williams Community Forest Project is organizing a hike up Kerby Peak Sunday, Oct. 24.

The Kerby Peak Trail in the Siskiyou Crest is considered difficult because of its 3.4-mile steep switchback climb with an elevation gain of 2,700 feet to the 5,555-foot summit of Kerby Peak.

The trail starts with an old forest of towering Douglas fir that gives way to sugar pine, chinquapin, rare Brewer’s weeping spruce and knob-cone pine.

After two miles the trail becomes a rock garden that in the summer is full of wildflowers. At the summit there are 360-degree views that extend east to Mount McLoughlin, southeast to Grayback Mountain, Lake Mountain and Swan Mountain, south to Little Grayback and the high peaks of the Siskiyou Wilderness.

The climb is worth the spectacular view and unique botanical and geographic features. For more information, see “Hiking Trails of The Lower Applegate” by Evelyn Roether.

Kerby Peak Trail is documented on maps dating back to 1915. In 1916, a telephone line was constructed to the peak by the state. In 1922, a lookout was established on top of the peak, where it remained until 1966. Civilian Conservation Corps were organized in 1933, and a camp was established outside of Selma (Camp Kerby). Men from the camp reportedly hiked the trail after hours in an effort to maintain physical fitness. The Oregon State Forestry Department burned the lookout in the fall of 1966, after it was acquired from the Forest Service and decommissioned.

Hikers will meet at 9 a.m. at the Williams Grange, 20100 Williams Highway. RSVP to info@williamscommunityforestproject.org. For more information about the Williams Community Forest Project, see www.facebook.com/WilliamsCommunityForestProject/

Port Orford cedar gate closures in effect

Gates on the western side of the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest have been closed in an effort to prevent the spread of Port Orford cedar root disease, according to a news release from the U.S. Forest Service.

The Port Orford cedar is a cypress (not a true cedar) that is native to southwest Oregon and northwest California. The cypress is a large evergreen coniferous tree, regularly reaching 200 feet tall, with feathery blue-green foliage. The tree is an important component of the forests of southwest Oregon, and it is known for its rot resistance and light, white-colored wood.

Port Orford cedar root disease is caused by a fungal-like pathogen that spreads through transportation of infected soil and surface water. The closure of roads during the wet season protects healthy Port Orford cedar by limiting access to reduce the risk of spreading the pathogen.

On the Gold Beach Ranger District, the Snow Camp Road (Forest Road 1376), a popular backroad between Brookings and Gold Beach, is closed. On the Powers Ranger District, the tie through from the Forest Service Roads 5325 and 3347 (5325-500 road) is also closed (east of Iron Mountain). Numerous dead-end roads also have Port Orford cedar closures on the Powers and Gold Beach Ranger districts. The gates will be reopened by May 31, 2022.