The Applegate Neighborhood Network presents:
In between wonderful rain showers today, a group of community volunteers and Forest Service employees worked to protect a small population of heartleaf milkweed (Asclepias cordifolia). Organized by the Applegate Neighborhood Network (ANN) and the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, the goal of the project was to enhance and improve monarch butterfly and pollinator habitat. We fixed fences and built a low rock barrier in an effort to reduce vehicle access into this rare Forest Service property on a riverside terrace along the Applegate River. The meadow-like habitat of the site supports spectacular spring displays of a beautiful wildflower called Douglas’ grasswidow (Olsynium douglasii), and a small, but significant population of heartleaf milkweed.
The heartleaf milkweed is an uncommon native plant found from Lane County, Oregon to Kern County, California. In the Applegate Valley, it is found mostly in the arid foothills on dry slopes and rock outcrops. Milkweed is the host plant for the monarch butterfly and is absolutely necessary for the caterpillar (larval) stage of this iconic, but declining species.
At a recent public meeting about land management in the Applegate Adaptive Management Area, ANN member, Suzie Savoie, highlighted numerous specific pollinator conservation opportunities in the Upper Applegate watershed. She proposed a host of potential restoration strategies that would promote more healthy native plant communities important to a variety of pollinator species. She proposed three pollinator conservation areas on the Applegate River, including this important valley-bottom heartleaf milkweed site.
Acting District Ranger and wildlife biologist, Dave Clayton, along with Forest Service botanist, Jessica Ceils, surveyed the sites proposed by Suzie at the recent public meeting and decided to proceed with restoration. Forest Service personnel are working on grants to secure funding for long-term restoration activities, including native plantings, seeding and noxious weed removal.
As an initial effort the Forest Service and ANN organized today’s work party to restrict vehicle access to a small Forest Service parcel along the Applegate River. The site is used by kayakers, fisherman and other recreationalists. Many of these forest users drive across the clearing or park within the clearing, disturbing and compacting soils, damaging native plant habitat, spreading noxious weeds, and impacting important pollinator habitat. Today, the Forest Service and ANN, along with volunteers from Southern Oregon Monarch Advocates and the Applegate River Watershed Council, removed barbed-wire fencing and rebuilt fence with “smooth,” non-barb fencing, and built a low rock barrier to restrict vehicle access and delineate a small parking area for motor vehicles. The clearing will also be signed as closed to motorized vehicles. These efforts will begin the restoration process, benefiting local pollinator populations and monarch butterfly habitat.
ANN will be working to support pollinator conservation projects in the Applegate Adaptive Management Area on both BLM and Forest Service land, and will work to educate local residents in sound pollinator conservation practices. To learn more about pollinator conservation in the Applegate Valley, consider attending Suzie’s upcoming Green Drinks talk: July 20, 2016 from 7:00-9:00 PM at Wild Wines, a conservation supporter and local wine company creating unique wildcrafted wines. The event will be located at the Wild Wines Tasting Room at 4550 Little Applegate Road.
We will also have a table of items for sale to benefit ANN and will be accepting donations to support our work in the Applegate Valley. A large matching donation has been made to ANN, so we want to stretch that donation as far as possible.
A new motorcycle barrier has been installed on the Wolf Gap Trail, a beautiful connector trail to the Sterling Ditch Trail. The Trail drops from Deming Gulch Road, and was a number of years ago, nearly lost to disrepair and inadequate maintenance. Luckily, the Siskiyou Upland Trails Association worked with community members and the BLM to rebuild the trail allowing folks to enjoy its spectacular views and incredible spring flowers.
The Trail drops 1.5 miles to the Sterling Ditch Trail on upper Wolf Gulch. Part of the original agreement was to ensure local residents that reopening the Wolf Gulch Trail would not encourage or increase OHV trespass on the Sterling Ditch below.
Today SUTA came through on that promise and installed a very tough and effective motorcycle barrier at the Wolf Gap Trailhead. With SUTA leading the way, acquiring the funds, and coordinating with BLM. ANN showed up to support the efforts to install the barrier, providing a helping hand and sturdy back. Together we dug holes, poured concrete, moved the massive metal motorcycle barrier into place, and prepared trail tread with BLM employees, Youth Build Rogue Valley and SUTA volunteers. We also obliterated a small portion of unauthorized OHV track that was illegally built within 100′ of this non-motorized trail and causing severe erosion. Hopefully this is just the beginning!
The barrier was installed to allow hikers and equestrians through, but discourage motorcycles. The design allows hikers and horses to step through the rugged metal contraption, but blocks motorized trail riders. The structure is impressive and hopefully effective.
Thanks to the efforts of SUTA, the Wolf Gap Trail is a little safer and the sanctity of neighboring properties is secured. Please support SUTA and their work on local trails and by all means get out and hike the Wolf Gap Trail.
The Applegate Neighborhood Network will be leading a hike to Boaz Mountain on Thursday June 2, 2016. The hike will explore the Boaz Mountain Roadless Area in the Upper Applegate Valley near McKee Bridge. We will hike off-trail into Nedsbar Timber Sale units located within the roadless area on the western face of Boaz Mountain. The hike will include oak woodlands, colorful wildflowers, ancient forests and spectacular vistas across the Upper Applegate Valley. The hike will also include some elevation gain, poison oak and variable terrain. It is estimated that the hike will be roughly 3 miles, with the option of hiking more if folks would like to see more of the area.
Please consider joining us as we explore the Boaz Mountain Roadless Area and the proposed Nedsbar Timber Sale units located on the wild western face of Boaz Mountain. Come prepared for moderately difficult off-trail hiking. Bring lunch, good shoes, and appropriate clothing.
When: Thursday June 2, 2016 9:00 AM
Location: Meet at the Upper Applegate Grange on Upper Applegate Road.
The Applegate Trails Association is an ANN member group and has spent the last five years advocating for non-motorized recreation in the Applegate Valley. The groups biggest project is the proposed Applegate Ridge Trail (ART), a long distance non-motorized trail that would link the communities Jacksonville and Grants Pass, Oregon.
In the hills above Jacksonville the ART is proposed to intersect the Jack-Ash Trail, a roughly 40-mile route envisioned by the Siskiyou Upland Trails Association (SUTA). Together the trails extend an estimated 80 miles from downtown Ashland, to the hills above Grants Pass and the Rogue River. The trails would serve the local community much as the Bear Creek Greenway currently does, but would travel through our beautiful, undeveloped mountain habitats. Both the ART and the Jack-Ash are still in their infancy, but a dedicated group of residents, hiking enthusiasts and volunteers are steadily working to make both trails a reality.
This spring two ATA board members are proposing to be the first to thru-hike the entire trail corridor from Ashland to Grants Pass. Our goal is to turn this thru-hike adventure into a film promoting the trails, their creation and their preservation. The film will be used to raise awareness, build support and inspire volunteers to get involved. We hope to highlight the beauty and diversity of the trails, as well as the many benefits to the surrounding communities that the trails will bring.
ATA intends to show the film at various public events, for local trail groups, municipalities, wineries, businesses, outdoor stores, on the web, at film festivals and anywhere that our message is welcome. We are asking for financial support to hire a professional film crew, who will film the adventure and create a short documentary film about the thru-hike, the Applegate Trails Association and the proposed trails.
Please consider supporting this unique project. The Jack-Ash Trail and ART will provide generations of enjoyment to the people of southwestern Oregon, while promoting environmental conservation and stewardship. We hope you can support the work of ATA.
To view the ATA kickstarter page: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1273847070/applegate-trails-association-thru-hike-film?ref=nav_search