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Wild Side: Save and explore the monument

Well. That didn’t take long.

President Donald Trump has already issued the first major attack on our public lands in the form of an attempt to remove protection from the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in Ashland’s backyard, and 26 others around the country. Our monument is a critical stronghold for plants and animals, and a boon for local recreation. Now that the weather is warm and the snow is melting from the slopes, it’s time to get out and explore your monument and fight the effort to unravel its protection.

But first, we need to save the monument. To protect the diversity of life in the Monument, scientists recommended and President Obama accepted an expansion in January. Now, Trump’s attack throws that all into question. Meanwhile, the timber industry is suing to gut protection for the monument in the courts. KS Wild and Soda Mountain Wilderness Council are teaming up to fight them both. You can help, too, with a comment letter submitted before July 10. Go to kswild.org to find out how.

Now let’s explore.

Luckily, a lot of people love the monument. KS Wild, Soda Mountain Wilderness Council (SMWC), Native Plant Society, Friends of the Cascade-Siskiyou, and a host of other groups are leading annual hikes and stewardship projects in the monument. This summer is packed with events on these monumental public lands, and below you will find a sampler of some of these events. Join us!

For all events: Bring lunch, plenty of water, rain gear, sun protection, sturdy shoes/boots, a sense of humor and adventure. You may encounter ticks, poison oak, snakes, and other outdoor hazards. All events require an RSVP.

JUNE 3: SMWC will host botanist John Villella to explore the canyons, oaks, and gallery forest of Scotch Creek in the hidden Horseshoe Ranch Wildlife Area, a California addition to the Monument. Easy to Moderate, with distance. Sign up via Alison Kling: sodamtnwild@yahoo.com. Meet at 8:00 a.m. Meet in Ashland, lower end of Shop‘N Kart parking lot near the medical offices.

JUNE 17: SMWC will host botanist Steve Jessup to ramble around Canyon Ridge east of Ashland and catch impressive views west across the Rogue Valley and east to Table Mountain. Moderate to Difficult. Three-to-4 miles of mostly off-trail hiking. Sign up via sodamtnwild@yahoo.com. Meet at 9:00 a.m. Meet in Ashland, lower end of Shop‘N Kart parking lot near the medical offices.

JUNE 24: SMWC will host ecologist Jay Lininger to explore the remnant forest of the Little Hyatt Old-Growth Groves and look into the upper Bear Creek Valley. We stopped BLM’s plans to road and log this special place. You’ll see why. About 3 miles of off-trail hiking. Sign up via sodamtnwild@yahoo.com. Moderate or Easy. Meet at 9:00 a.m. Meet in Ashland, lower end of Shop‘N Kart parking lot near the medical offices.

JUNE 26 and 27: Join KS Wild, Native Plant Society, and Friends of the CSNM for a Rare Plant Treasure hunt in the Horseshoe Wildlife Area. Acclaimed botanist Aaron Sims will present on the rare plants, identification, and their history. RSVP at kswild.org. Meet at Northwest Nature Shop in Ashland at 9am. Come for one or both days.

JULY 2: SMWC will host ornithologist Pepper Trail will lead a scramble up Vulture Rock for big views of Johnson Prairie and the Jenny Creek watershed. About 3 miles round-trip with some off-trail hiking, rock/talus hopping, and a few climbing moves at the top. Easy-to-moderate hiking with a non-technical climb. Sign up via ptrail@ashlandnet.net. Meet at 8:30 a.m. Meet in Ashland, lower end of Shop‘N Kart parking lot near the medical offices.

JULY 15: Join Native Plant Society, Friends of the Cascade-Siskiyou NM, KS Wild, and BLM staff for an invasive weed pull in the Mariposa Preserve. We will clear starthistle in the habitat of the rare Green’s Mariposa Lily and observe flowers along the way. 2:30pm - Carpool from Clover Ln., Ashland (in front of El Paraiso restaurant). 3:00pm - 6:00pm - Weed pull. 6:30 - Dinner 6:30pm at Caldera Brewery. Sign up at kswild.org.

— Joseph Vaile is executive director of the Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center (KS Wild, 541-488-5789, www.kswild.org). His Wild Side column appears every three weeks.