U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIORBUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
For Release: April 11, 2007
Mules and Humans Restore Historic BLM Wilderness Site
Years ago, the eastern San Bernardino Mountains in southern California was many a prospectors’ dream of fortune. Although long abandoned, sites such as the Plata Claim can now provide the public an opportunity to experience the former location surrounded by spectacular wilderness.
Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Student Conservation Association (SCA) interns, along with volunteers from the Sierra Club, off-highway vehicle organizations, and the BLM Barstow Field Office, successfully restored the former prospector’s camp to an unspoiled wilderness site among the pinyon pines and massive granite boulders.
This quarter-acre site, 1,300 feet above the south edge of the Mojave Desert, was only recently smothered with old sheet metal, rusty paint cans, angle iron, chicken wire, bullet-riddled appliances, rotting scrap lumber, and broken glass. But through the effective use of non-motorized and non-mechanical support techniques to protect the surrounding wilderness, volunteers successfully cleared thousands of pounds of debris from the site.
Seven pack mules and riding horses were provided by Jerry Clark of the Back Country Horsemen. “The mules were diligent, but sometimes skittish, and the humans…well, they were nothing short of extraordinary,” said Clark.
“Over two days, mules hauled over 2,000 pounds of large and heavy debris out of the wilderness,” stated Kat Deely, BLM-SCA Wilderness Restoration Corp VII leader. According to Deely, volunteers removed another 2,000 pounds of debris using backpacks, buckets, and litter frames.
In 1994, this particular part of the San Bernardino Mountains became part of the congressionally mandated Bighorn Mountain Wilderness, which includes BLM and U.S. Forest Service managed lands. Agency officials estimate dozens more such sites are scattered within the 68 wilderness areas managed by BLM.
“We expect the lessons learned from this Plata Claim effort to be applied throughout the mountain range as we begin similar wilderness cleanup projects,” stated Chris Roholt, BLM Desert District wilderness manager.
California Desert District Office – 22835 Calle San Juan de Los Lagos, Moreno Valley, CA 92553- (951) 697-5217