Eight Dollar Mountain: A Botanical Area Not an OHV Playground
Allee Gustafson, Community Organizer
Eight Dollar Mountain looms in the distance as you make your way into the Illinois Valley. A place where you'll find a rare botanical landscape bursting with rare and endemic wildflowers, wildlife and clean water. However, this area has been threatened for some time now from illegal off highway vehicle (OHV) use and is now receiving the attention it needs to prevent further damage in this botanically diverse serpentine hotspot.
Over this past weekend KS Wild and our strong team of volunteers assisted the Forest Service and spent two days repairing and closing illegal routes made by OHV users near the base of Eight Dollar Mtn. We picked up and hauled away 2 truck loads of trash, closed various routes, and installed 'Botanical Area Restoration' signage along the roadway.
The first work day together was spent gathering organic materials and rocks and placing them onto illegal OHV user created routes, blocking them off from re-entering on a motorized vehicle. After lunch we installed new signage along these newly blocked routes, designating them as 'Closed to Motorized Vehicles'. We ended the day by picking up trash alongside illegal routes and throughout the damaged meadow.
After a long day in the sun a few of us stayed the night and camped by the Illinois river, enjoying the clean emerald water. The next day we were up early and set off with a smaller team to finish installing signs and blocking more illegal routes. Subsequently, the new signs we installed will allow the forest service, rangers and local officials to enforce the protection of this botanical area because it's only when OHV users go off road and onto single track trails that it conflicts with hikers, wildlife, rare plants, and water quality. We were ensured that this area was going to receive increased enforcement, especially during the busy July 4th celebrations, says Brian White with the Forest Service, which was great news to hear.
We took some time off in the middle of the day for a short plant walk with the Native Plant Society of Oregon where we discovered a variety of wildflowers such as the Stream Orchid, also called Giant Helleborine, the Vollmer Lily also known as the Tiger Lily and my favorite the Cobra Lily or Darlingtonia Californica showing signs of new sprouting life.
After a productive weekend the participants discussed and agreed that the best and most effective strategy to keep illegal OHV's out of this botanical area is to put up gates blocking access to Eight Dollar Mountain, which should be expected to take place by Fall 2018 as stated by the Forest Service. Our collaborative efforts and continued monitoring to make sure these gates stay closed, with the help from KS Wild Land Stewards, will help to protect this area from being threatened by the impacts of illegal OHV use in sensitive botanical habitats.
It was a stellar work weekend all in all and I'm so thankful for our volunteers who have become stewards of the land to help protect this botanical area for all living creatures and plants alike!
For the wildflowers!