Several Bureau of Land Management (BLM) staff members set up a registration table in the early hours of the morning on Saturday, September 30, 2017 in the Juniper Flats Area. Under a shade canopy, the table was stacked with a hundred National Public Lands Day (NPLD) t-shirts, some information about the area and 3 sign in sheets. Despite the early hour, behind the table were smiling, friendly BLM staff and volunteers. Ten Friends of Juniper Flats Volunteers participated in the activities and were joined by half a dozen or so other volunteers. the event ended at noon giving participants the opportunity to explore the area on their own and perhaps enjoy a picnic.
Three main activities were offered
The BLM guided the visitors in 3 main activities. People could choose to do some restoration work, clean up a trigger trash dumping site, or learn more about riparian areas and the wildlife that can be found in the area. Volunteers also helped install the interpretive panels on several kiosks and many joined a short hike led by Friends of Juniper Flats volunteers.
The restoration site
The work was at a spur off the main road where there is a great view. The spur had been extended by motorcycle use and continued down a steep hill, causing erosion and compacting the soil, which make it difficult for desert plants to reestablish themselves. Putting sticks and stones on the compacted trail is the first step in restoration and sometimes accomplishes the task. Many times this is not the case and touch up is necessary in a few months. Sometimes vehicle use continues unabated and hard barriers need to be installed to prevent continued use of the unauthorized trail.
The Riparian Area
This activity included installing 3 panels on the kiosks, general clean up and learning more about the flora and fauna in the area.
The Trigger Trash Cleanup
Some people leave their trash behind when visiting the area. Others bring in trash to shoot at. This is called “trigger trash”. Volunteers cleaned up one of these sites. The trash was scattered over quite a wide area and filled up a pickup truck.
The Nature Hike
Members of the Friends of Juniper Flats led a short one mile round trip hike from the registration table at the kiosk. This is one of the proposed Juniper Flats Area Hiking Trails suggested by the Friends of Juniper Flats. It was necessary to climb through a fence to begin the hike. Friends of Juniper Flats explained the need for the fencing and gates. In the winter cattle are seen grazing in the area and the fences keep them from wandering off the Cattle Allotment and onto the road. Three types of yucca were seen along the trail which also passes by a small juniper woodland. Most of the junipers in the Juniper Flats Area were burned in the Willow Fire in 1999 and there is plenty of evidence of this devastation over the hills. That fire drastically changed the landscape and wildlife habitat. The trail also passes a cattle corral where a bee keeper is authorized to put hives in the spring. These two activities – cattle grazing and beekeeping are examples of the multiple use of the Juniper Flats area. Hikers enjoyed the views over the Victor Valley as well as views of Elderberry Spring. This is one of many lovely riparian areas hidden in valleys between the surrounding hills.
The new interpretive signs
Volunteers helped install 4 large interpretive panels on the kiosk on Coxey Truck Trail, a single panel on a kiosk on Powerline Road, two panels on small kiosks with information boxes near Arrastre Waterfall and a large panel also by Arrastre Waterfall.