Our shared botanical areas are home to rare plants, interesting community assemblages, and in general represent the exceptional biodiversity that defines our region. They are beautiful places. But as new ABA volunteers soon learn, the beauty of botanical areas is not without a caveat: simply put, many of these places get trashed.
I'm not just talking about beer bottles and cigarette butts - what is happening in some of our treasured botanical areas is nothing short of vandalism.
Sunday March 20th, 2016, a group of 7 ABA volunteers, participated in a garbage clean-up at the proposed Waldo-Takilma ACEC. Critical habitat for the federally endangered Lomatium cookeii, Cook's Lomatium, and known to locals a location that faces regular trash dumping and off-road vehicle vandalism. Even more disturbing than the masses of trash, is how the trash promotes further damage, often becoming an unofficial shooting range, causing direct damage to plants and creating an unsafe environment for other recreationalists.
While we were preparing to initiate the clean-up, we observed a large group of approximately 15-20 people in about 8 off-road vehicles (ORV’s) gather and then disperse throughout the proposed Waldo-Takilma ACEC. We witnessed people driving ORV’s off of the roads, in meadows, among old mining tailings, and the cutting of at least one tree. The scope of the ongoing and severe ORV damage to botanical and hydrological values has caused considerable adverse effects. Our Areas of Critical Environmental Concern deserve better.
A comprehensive strategy is necessary to protect the meadows, and the critical habitat for Lomatium cookeii from additional ORV damage. We have requested that the BLM develop a Restoration Plan to identify and schedule the remedial activities that are needed to restore areas that have been damaged by motorized vehicle use within the area. The most pressing matter is preventing further damage and degradation from occurring. It is essential that the Restoration Plan be supported by agency law enforcement and by adequate fencing.