The Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument is an unusual confluence of four bio-regions, giving rise one of the most bio-diverse areas in the nation.
The Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument is an unusual confluence of four bio-regions, giving rise to one of the most bio-diverse areas in the nation — however, some of its most rare plants are being threatened by off-road vehicles, mining and the dumping of trash.
To help educate local people about the plants and the threat to them, Jeanine Moy of K-S Wild will give a talk at 6 p.m. Friday at the Medford library and lead a two-mile hike in the monument, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.
The federal government may have created the monument in 2000, but it doesn’t have the funds to patrol or enforce laws against dumping, mining and off-road vehicles, so K-S Wild and Friends of the CSNM collaborate on leading more than 100 volunteers who educate themselves about rare plants and regularly hike the area. They also manage 130 “designated botanical areas” from Roseburg to Redding, seeing how the plants are doing and noting spots of violations.
The lecture and hike this weekend are part of that effort, and can lead to volunteer service, Moy said in an interview.
“The Cascade-Siskiyou Monument is a biologically diversity hot-spot,” she noted. "This area features one of the richest temperate conifer forests in the world, containing rare plant species, and hosts many endemic species. The region surrounding CSNM has been recognized as ‘critical/endangered’ by the World Wildlife Fund, because it is threatened by logging, mining, grazing, and development.”
The World Wildlife Fund ranks the area as among the most bio-diverse in Oregon.
The hike will focus on endangered plants, including 135 butterfly-attracted species. Among them are:
Mariposa lily, a native of northern California and southern Oregon, where it grows in the forest and woodlands of the mountains.
Gentner's fritillary, a rare member of lily family, endemic to southwest Oregon and Siskiyou County. Its habitat is dry, open woodlands and chaparral from 1,000 to 5,000 feet. Blooms from March through July.
Mountain lady’s slipper, a member of the orchid family.
Canyon larkspur, a flowering perennial herb in the buttercup family. Has attractive red-orange flowers, pollinated by hummingbirds. It grows below 6,500 feet..
The Cascade Siskiyou National Monument is surrounded by four distinct geological regions: the Great Basin, a temperate Mediterranean influence from the south, the volcanic Cascades from Grizzly Peak to Pilot Rock and the Siskiyou Mountains, an old sea floor from the west. This, said Moy, greatly boosts the plant diversity of the Monument.
A carpool to the hike meets at Shop'N'Kart at 9:15 a.m. or at Green Springs Loop Trail head.
John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Email him at email@example.com.