PCT and 1,312 acres near Pilot Rock win protection

PCTA's successful "First Mile" campaign protects land around Southern Oregon's Pilot Rock.

The PCT approaches Pilot Rock in Southern Oregon.

Over 1,300 acres of extraordinary habitat at Siskiyou Summit in southern Oregon, including more than a mile of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) on private land near Pilot Rock, has been permanently protected by a conservation easement donated to the Southern Oregon Land Conservancy. Property owners Nancy Ames Cole and Marshall Cole have signed an agreement with the nonprofit conservancy to forever protect 1,312-acres. Conserving the property has been a longtime dream for the Coles, the Southern Oregon Land Conservancy, and the Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA).

The property is unique habitat surrounded by the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument and straddling the Cascade and Siskiyou Mountains just south of Ashland on Pilot Rock Road. The easement means that the ecological health and biological diversity of the parcel, which is for sale, will be protected. Subdivision and development are restricted, and future owners will be required to work with the Southern Oregon Land Conservancy and the PCTA to be responsible stewards of the land and the trail along it.

Until the easement was signed this past March, only an eight foot to ten foot wide strip of the trail through the property was protected. Today, the new conservation easement provides protection for a 600 foot corridor along the trail. “A conservation easement,” says PCTA Executive Director Liz Bergeron, “is a very good instrument for permanent protection of the trail on private parcels. It allows landowners to enduringly protect land while maintaining ownership.”

The Cole property is a mosaic of mixed conifer forests, meadows, pine-oak-juniper savannah and wetlands. It is home to numerous rare plants and to a very rare extensive occurrence of native grasses. The property is a critical corridor for the northern spotted owl and other wildlife, including bobcat, elk, and black-tailed deer. “Protecting that biological richness is what led the family to donate the conservation agreement,” says Nancy Ames Cole. “We felt that the Southern Oregon Land Conservancy would be the best organization to protect the land.”

“The PCT’s route through the Cole property,” adds Bergeron, “provides hikers and equestrians with the opportunity to experience the land’s rich natural resources up close, and thanks to the new conservation easement and the Southern Oregon Land Conservancy this opportunity will be protected, for this generation and for generations to come. This type of collaboration with conservation and land management partners along the trail is a sign of things to come for the PCTA as we increase our role in land protection projects.”

The PCTA’s top priority is to permanently protect the most natural corridor possible for the PCT. The expansion of our efforts to protect the trail will undoubtedly take additional resources. We’d like to thank all of our members and friends who responded to the letter we sent out earlier this year requesting additional support for our growing Trail Protection Fund. So far we have raised $40,000 in response to this request. In this case, the Trail Protection Fund allowed us to take immediate action as the “voice” of the PCT by reviewing and revising the legal language of the easement to ensure that the interests of the trail and its users were protected. Your ongoing support will continue to help us step up to the challenges of protecting the entire trail.

 

Author: Jack "Found" Haskel

As the Trail Information Manager, Jack works to connect people to the PCT. He's involved with a wide variety of projects that help the trail, the trail's users and the community that surrounds the experience. He has thru-hiked (Pacific Crest Trail in 2006; Colorado Trail in 2008; Continental Divide Trail in 2010) and is an obsessed weekend warrior.