Posts Tagged ‘Upper Elk Meadows’

Surveying Upper Elk Meadows RNA

Frasera umpquaensis is a rare endemic found in the RNA. The inflorescence has a very shaggy look from the long sepals and bracts on the numerous flowers, most of which hadn’t opened yet.

Last Wednesday (June 20), I was invited to join a group of BLM botanists and natural resources specialists on a trip to Upper Elk Meadows, a BLM Research Natural Area (RNA). I’d only been there once before, last year (see Finally a Visit to Upper Elk Meadows) and had only spent a couple of hours, so I was excited to explore it with people who had been going there for many years. This area interests me because it is farther west than I usually go, in large part because much of the western edge of the Western Cascades is in private hands—the result of the checkerboard land allocation that resulted from the O&C Lands Act of 1937—and even the public land can be hard to access. The reason they were going up there was to get some data on whether the native Douglas’ hawthorn (Crataegus suksdorfii) was in danger of swallowing up what was left of the open wetland. Alan Curtis is a retired BLM botanist and fellow NPSO member. He’s been coming to this site for many decades. It was his idea and energy that got this designated as an RNA, an area of quality habitat protected for biological research. In his many years of visiting Upper Elk Meadows, Alan has seen an advancement of shrubs across this wetland. Large parts of it are almost impenetrable thickets of shrubs. Only a few areas are open herbaceous wet meadow. Read the rest of this entry »

Finally, a Visit to Upper Elk Meadows

Mama grouse with adorable baby grouselings seem to be everywhere along the mountain roads now.

A golden longhorn beetle enjoys the flowers of Umpqua frasera (Frasera umquaensis).

I’ve heard about Upper Elk Meadows, south of Cottage Grove, for years, but I’ve never managed to go check it out. But last Friday (July 8) was the perfect opportunity as I was heading south to the North Umpqua for our annual NARGS campout, which I’ve been organizing the last few years. There are several nice cutoffs over the mountains via Cottage Grove that are actually paved all the way to Hwy 138. One of these, south of Cottage Grove Lake and London, via Big River Road, goes right by Upper Elk Meadows—or almost right by. I had a whole bunch of maps with me, but I’d forgotten to make sure I knew where it was on the map, and I hadn’t bothered to get directions from anyone, since I was far more concerned with planning the weekend camping trip, which had to be changed twice due to the low snowline. Neither of my BLM maps had it marked, nor did either of the nearby Forest Service district maps. After I arrived at the intersection of Rock Creek Road and had obviously missed Upper Elk Meadows, I checked the last possible map I had with me that might cover the area: the Umpqua National Forest map. Thankfully it was marked on there, even though it is not in their jurisdiction—it is actually a BLM RNA (Research Natural Area). Once I knew about where it was, it wasn’t too hard to find, off a gated-off side road, and small paths made it obvious where people had gone in there before. Read the rest of this entry »

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