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Volunteers work to restore botanical area

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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.”

Savannah Blake/Mail Tribune - Volunteers introduce themselves at an Eight Dollar Mountain Botanical Area stewardship event hosted by KS Wild.
Savannah Blake/Mail Tribune - Volunteers Howard Erbe, left, and Ray Holladay learn how to photo monitor botanical signs in the Eight Dollar Mountain Botanical Area from KS Wild community organizer Allee Gustafson.
Savannah Blake/Mail Tribune - Volunteer Ray Holladay looks over a photo mapping sheet that he needs to fill out while working out at the Eight Dollar Mountain Botanical Area.
Savannah Blake/Mail Tribune - Allee Gustafson of KS Wild uses her cellphone to photo map the location of a botanical area sign.
Savannah Blake/Mail Tribune - Ray Holladay picks up trash along a trail in the Eight Dollar Mountain Botanical Area. While the road is closed to vehicles, many cars still travel througjh the botanical area, leaving trash and damaging the land.
Savannah Blake/Mail Tribune - Trash litters a trail in the Eight Dollar Mountain Botanical Area.
Savannah Blake/Mail Tribune - KS Wild volunteers walk along a portion of the Eight Dollar Mountain Botanical Area.
Savannah Blake/Mail Tribune - Volunteer Mike Nelson saws off a piece of wood to place on the welcome sign at the beginning of the Eight Dollar Mountain Botanical Area.
Savannah Blake/Mail Tribune - Recreation Staff Officer Brian White drills in a piece of wood onto the welcome sign at the beginning of the Eight Dollar Mountain Botanical Area trail.
Savannah Blake/Mail Tribune - Several no motor vehicle signs sit in the back of Brian White's truck to be posted around the Eight Dollar Mountain Botanical Area.
Savannah Blake/Mail Tribune - Recreation Staff Officer Brian White helps KS Wild volunteers place a no vehicles sign on a section of the Eight Dollar Mountain Botanical Area trail.