In 1997, a small group of rural residents in southern Oregon banded together to protect their watershed.
Surrounded by local farms, forested foothills, and clear streams, Applegate Valley community members decided they needed to do something to stop the damage uncovered from clearcut logging, mining, and unregulated off highway vehicles in southwest Oregon’s Siskiyou Mountains. KS Wild was born from this movement, and incorporated as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization in Williams, Oregon. We moved our headquarters to Ashland, Oregon in 2000 to be near the large population center in the region.
Over the past two decades, KS Wild has grown to become the leading public lands conservation organization in southern Oregon and northern California’s Klamath-Siskiyou region. KS Wild first established a public lands monitoring program that protected hundreds of thousands of acres of some of the best remaining old-growth forests in the region. As a watchdog group, KS Wild commented on nearly every public lands management proposal on the Rogue, Siskiyou, Klamath, Six Rivers, and Shasta-Trinity National Forest and the Bureau of Land Management’s Medford District. The focus for several years was to shift public lands management from logging ancient forests to restoration.
Serving the Klamath-Siskiyou ecoregion of southwest Oregon and northwest California, KS Wild is the advocate for a region that has been declared an Area of Global Botanical Significance by the International Union on the Conservation of Nature and one of the most botanically diverse regions in North America by the World Wildlife Fund. In the early 2000s, KS Wild realized a need to compliment our watchdog work by proactively promoting conservation of the special habitats and wild places in the region. We began to explore conservation opportunities for rare species, Wild and Scenic Rivers, and large intact blocks of roadless wildlands.
Two significant events led to the growth of KS Wild in recent years. First, KS Wld established the Rogue Riverkeeper Program in 2009, which remains an important program of KS Wild and continues to share office space and other resources. The Rogue Riverkeeper is a member of the international Waterkeeper Alliance. While KS Wild shares administrative faculties and oversight with Rogue Riverkeeper, the program operates under a separate strategic plan.
Second, KS Wild merged with the Siskiyou Regional Education Project in 2011. The Siskiyou Project’s advocacy in the Illinois Valley and for the one million-acre Siskiyou Wild Rivers region nestled in the Klamath-Siskiyou dates back to 1983. As KS Wild looks to the future, the history of National Forest advocacy in this region is secured with the Siskiyou Project merger. KS Wild takes seriously the responsibility to protect this special region that anchors the southern portion of the great Pacific Northwest, and this history guides and inspires our work into the future.