Fremont-Winema National Forest

Fremont-Winema National Forest is a United States National Forest that was created from the 2002 merger of the Fremont and Winema National Forests. They cover territory in southern Oregon from the crest of the Cascades on the west, past the city of Lakeview towards the east. The northern end of the forest is bounded by U.S. Route 97 on the west, and Oregon Route 31 towards the east. Towards the south, the state border with California creates the boundary of the forests. Klamath Falls is the only city of significant size in the vicinity. The forests are managed by the U.S. Forest Service and the Fremont-Winema National Forest headquarters can be found in Lakeview.

The Fremont National Forest received its name after John C. Fremont, who explored the area for the United States Army Corps of Engineers in 1843. It is located in western Lake and eastern Klamath counties within Oregon, and it has a land area of 1,207,039 acres. There are local ranger district offices in Bly, Lakeview, Paisley, and Silver Lake. The Warner Canyon Ski Area was a part of Fremont until a land swap transferred the ownership to Lake County.

As it was founded in 1908, Fremont National Forest was originally protected as the Goose Lake Forest Reserve in 1906. The name was soon switched to Fremont National Forest. It absorbed a part of the Paulina National Forest on July 19th of 1915. In 2002, it was administratively joined with the Winema National Forest as the Fremont-Winema National Forests.

A Forest Service study in 1993 estimated that the extent of the old growth in the forest was 549,800 acres., 113,800 acres of which were Lodgepole Pine.

The sites of two previous uranium mines, the White King and Lucky Lass mines, can be found on Forest Service lands within Fremont National Forest. Now, they are Superfund sites.

Common recreational opportunities in the Fremont National Forest include camping, hiking, boating, backpacking, horseback riding, mountain biking, hunting, fishing, and skiing. The 50-mile Fremont National Recreation Trail runs northwest-southeast between Government Harvey Pass and Cox Pass in the forest.

The Winema National Forest is a U.S. National Forest located in Klamath County on the eastern slopes of the Cascade Range in south-central Oregon, and covers 1,045,548 acres. The forest edges Crater Lake National Park near the crest of the Cascades and stretches eastwards into the Klamath Basin. Near the floor of the Basin the forest gives way to vast meadows and marshes associated with Upper Klamath Lake and the Williamson River drainage. To the north and the east extensive stands of ponderosa and lodgepole pine grow on deep pumice an ash that blanket the area during the eruption of Mount Mazama nearly 7,000 years ago. A Forest Service study in 1993 estimated that the extent of old growth in the Forest was 711,674 acres.

There are local ranger district offices in Chiloquin, Klamath Falls, and Chemult.

The forest gets its name from Toby Riddle, a Modoc woman known also as “Winema”.

When it was founded in 1961, the Winema National Forest was initially protected as the Cascade Range Forest Reserve from 1893 to 1907, when it became the Cascade National Forest. In the year 1908, it was changed to the Mazama National Forest and then Crater Lake National Forest until 1932. The land was a part of the Rogue River National Forest from 1932 to 1961, when it was entitled the Winema National Forest. In 2002, it was administratively joined with the Fremont National Forest to become the Fremont-Winema National Forests. Separately, the Winema National Forest is the third-largest National Forest that is contained completely within one county.

More than half of the forest is former Klamath Indian Reservation land. Two purchases by the U.S. government – the first being in 1963 of about 500,000 acres and the second being in 1973 of about 135,000 acres – were joined with parts of three other national forests to create the Winema National Forest.

Members of the Klamath tribe reserve specific rights of fishing, trapping, hunting, and gathering of the forest materials on former reservation land within the Winema National Forest.

Currently, there are more than 300 species of wildlife and fish that occur in this region. There are roughly 925 species of recorded vascular plants within the forest. The vascular plants offer food and habitat for animals, fish, insects, and mankind. Management to make sure that all native species maintain healthy populations is a focus of the USDA-Forest Service. There are a number of wildflowers and rare species of plants found in the forest.

Game animals including Rocky Mountains elk, pronghorn antelope and mule deer can be seen in the forest. There are several different types of trout within the region’s lakes and streams, and a few lakes also support large-mouth bass, a warm water fish. Canadian geese, mallards, and whistling swans are often seen waterfowl. Mountain lion, black bear, and bobcat can also be seen in the form of small populations.

The endangered peregrine falcon and the bull trout can be seen in the forest as well.

There are 4 officially designated wilderness areas within this Fremont-Winema National Forest that are a part of the National Wilderness Preservation System. Two of these areas extend into neighboring National Forests. These areas are Gearhart Mountain Wilderness, Mountain Lakes Wilderness, Sky Lakes Wilderness, and Mount Thielsen Wilderness.

Image Caption: Pedestrian bridge over the Chewaucan River on the Chewaucan Crossing Trail in the Fremont National Forest, Oregon, USA. Credit: US Forest Service/Wikipedia