The Wellington Wildlands: Protecting an Applegate Jewel

December 02, 2018

By Jack Duggan

Tucked above private lands along Highway 238 between Ruch and Applegate is an untouched jewel of Applegate wilderness. Centered on Wellington Butte, the Wellington Wildlands is 12 square miles of unentered public land with one hiking trail at its border along the ridge above Forest Creek and an unpermitted, user-created OHV trail poking its way into the wilderness.

Conservation, recreational groups and southern Oregon citizens have mobilized to protect the Wellington Wildlands Wilderness (WWW) from proposed logging in the Middle Applegate Timber Sale, currently being designed by the Medford District, Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

Most of this preserve is made up of south facing slopes covered in brush and oak woodlands but there is just enough timber hidden in the canyon folds to attract BLM’s attention. Wellington Butte, with its distinctive mountain meadow, stands at the center and is visible from Ruch and most of the Middle Applegate area. Views from this rare land span both valleys from Williams to Mt. Ashland and from Medford to Crater Lake. Private lands border three sides, so for many residents of the Applegate Valley the wildlands is their viewshed or back yard.

Originally recognized as a Land with Wilderness Characteristics (LWC) at 5711 acres, locals believe the WWW should be expanded to 7527 acres by including the BLM managed lands on both sides of China Gulch.

The Wellington Wildlands and Dakubutede, another LWC with the historic Sterling Mine Ditch Trail running through it, are highlights in a recreation area along the narrow band of mountains between Grants Pass and Mt. Ashland that separate the Applegate and Rogue Valleys. It is in these hills, christened the Applegate Rogue Recreation Corridor (ARRC), where recreation is varied and thriving.

Extensive non-motorized trails systems like Cathedral Hills, Jacksonville Forest Park, Sterling Mine Ditch Trail and the Jacksonville Woodlands already exist in this corridor. The eventual completion of the Jack-Ash and Applegate Ridge Trails will provide a continuous upland trail from Grants Pass to Jacksonville and Ashland and the Pacific Crest Trail. From paragliding, skiing, hiking, running, hunting, backpacking, cycling, camping, horseback riding, bird watching, photography and OHV’s (Off Highway Vehicles), the ARRC is a recreation haven for both valleys.

The Save the Wellington Wildlands Council and its partners want to raise public awareness of this backyard gem and the threat posed to future generations if these wildlands are entered for timber harvest. David Calahan, a long time Applegate resident and neighbor to the WWW, comments “Most people aren’t opposed to sustainable forest management as long as it preserves scenic and conservation values. There’s a world of change going on here with rising tourism and awareness that good conservation practices mean good things for our economy and quality of life.”

At this point only BLM knows when the Middle Applegate Timber Sale will be announced and if the WWW will be proposed for logging in that project. People will be able to comment once the plan is released and it provides an opportunity for you to voice your concerns. Meanwhile, a petition to Preserve the Wellington Wildlands can be found at and you can also sign up for future notifications if desired.

Calahan is reflective. “This isn’t just about us. It’s about our children too,” said Calahan, noting that since the Wellington Wildlands are so close, they are within sight of thousands of people every day.


More information can be found at:

Download David Calahan article, Applegater:

'Lollipops' sweeten ambitious trail from Jville to Ashland

December 31, 2018

From the Medford Mail-Tribune:

Hope Robertson walks deftly down a deer trail through large swaths of madrones along the steep slopes of a forested ridge outside Jacksonville, looking up occasionally at a vast panorama that draws into view Woodrat Mountain, Dutchman Peak and everything in between.

ATA takes Ruch School elementary students on the East ART

September 04, 2018

From the Applegater:

On Earth Day 2018, as though she knew she was being celebrated, Earth put on her brightest spring demeanor— her face all shining with blue sky, her hillside coats of grass embroidered with wildflowers.

Wild Side: Lots of happy trails in the Applegate area

April 05, 2018

From the Ashland Daily Tidings:

"Spring has sprung! Streams are gushing. The meadows are lush. The flowers are popping. It’s time to hit the trail!"

Art of East ART

March 02, 2018

From the Mail Tribune:

"David Calahan steps onto the East Applegate Ridge Trail and instantly realizes he’s not alone.  The footprints of at least one human and perhaps a small dog break through the wet snow, indicating they’ve likely beaten Calahan to that beautiful view of Ruch and snowcapped Woodrat Mountain."

Wellington Wildlands or Wilderness?

March 01, 2018

From the Applegater:

"The 1964 Wilderness Act defines wilderness as a place of 5,000 acres minimum, with “outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation.” Under that definition, the 5,711-acre Wellington Wildlands (WWL) more than qualifies for the protections afforded to a “land with wilderness characteristics.” This area, now in jeopardy, is worth fighting for."

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“Walking the Wild Applegate” is here!

This short documentary follows two of our board members, Luke Ruediger and Josh Weber, on an 80-mile thru-hike that took place in May 2016. Our goal was to turn this bushwhacking adventure into a film that would raise awareness about the beauty of our region while building support for the proposed Applegate Ridge Trail. 


The film follows their route from downtown Ashland, Oregon, over the still snow-covered summit of Wagner Butte, across the arid slopes of Anderson Butte, though the Dakubetede roadless area, to the rugged foothills of the Wellington Butte Wildlands (outside Ruch, Oregon), and finally to the Cathedral Hills trails system south of Grants Pass, Oregon.


The Applegate Trails Association is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit foundation. All donations are tax deductible.

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