Volunteers work to restore botanical area
The Eight Dollar Mountain Botanical Area in the Illinois Valley — home to rare plants such as the carnivorous California pitcher plant — is a fragile ecosystem that has suffered from an increase in the number of people visiting the area.
While the botanical area is welcoming to foot traffic, illegal motor vehicles are becoming a big issue. Cars drive into the area to reach secluded camping spots and get closer to the Illinois River.
“That’s why we are here,” says KS Wild community organizer Allee Gustafson. “To protect this place by installing botanical area signs to let people know that this is a protected botanical area and to please keep your vehicles off.”
In addition to the signs, camouflaging the roads with natural materials is another way to discourage motorists from driving in the area. Volunteers have used boulders, dried branches and logs to cover up tire tracks buried in the grass.
Volunteer Linda Pace, who has been working with KS Wild for two years, says, “Keeping people from driving on these very fragile areas is a big part of this particular project. Just moving the natural materials into areas so that we don’t have to create man-made barriers, because man-made barriers tend to attract resistance.”
As traffic in the area has increased, litter has been on the rise. Throughout the botanical area, beer cans and cigarette butts litter the grounds.
This year KS Wild volunteers and U.S. Forest Service employees dispersed throughout the area to pick up litter, restore and paint a welcome sign and place new signs around the roads and trails.
KS Wild, an environmental organization committed to protecting and restoring nature in the Klamath-Siskiyou region of southwest Oregon, has hosted volunteer stewardship events in partnership with the Forest Service at the Eight Dollar Mountain Botanical Area for four years.
Brian White, a recreation staff officer for the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, says the stewardship event is something he looks forward to every year. “It’s almost like coming to a family event. The public, the Forest Service and Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center all benefit from this cooperative arrangement, so I’m really proud to be a part of it.”
Over the past four years, volunteers have helped the area heal from man-made damage. “It just lifts my heart to see the plants and to come out here. We’ve nurtured some tiny Ponderosa’s and some Jeffrey pines,” says Pace.
To help protect the work of the volunteers, White says, local law enforcement will be on the lookout for illegal motor vehicles. If they are caught driving on protected land, drivers could receive a hefty fine.
Volunteer Christie Nelson, a repeat volunteer at the Eight Dollar Mountain Botanical Area, said she is excited about the impact they are having.
“We’re making progress and protecting some of the more delicate flower areas, so it’s been very rewarding.”