Eight Dollar Mountain Darlingtonia californica Wetland in February

Darlingtonia californica plants grow along a seep at 8 Dollar Mountain in Josephine County, Oregon

I've visited the Darlingtonia californica fens and seeps around 8 Dollar Mountain repeatedly over a number of years. Southern Oregon is fascinating botanically not just for the carnivorous plants found scattered about it's remote places but also for sheer non-carnivorous botanical diversity. From dense coniferous forrest to sparsely vegetated serpentine slopes, the variety of plants follows the variable native geology, which is hard to beat in the pacific northwest.

Darlingtonia californica leaf at 8 Dollar Mountain in Josephine County, Oregon

A friend and I first attempted to visit $8 Mountain a few years ago while the Kalmiopsis Wilderness was being logged following the massive Biscuit Fire. Strictly speaking, national wilderness areas are supposed to be protected from things like logging; it should come as no surprise then (and perhaps with considerable relief) that the action received the attention of protestors.

Darlingtonia californica fen at 8 Dollar Mountain in Josephine County, Oregon

Local authorities responded with the all-too-usual approach of banning everyone but loggers from the vicinity.

A Darlingtonia californica plant grows near the Illinois River at 8 Dollar Mountain in Josephine County, Oregon

It seems all manner of wrong to allow large corporations onto protected public lands while banning all other members of the public from access; perhaps my abject failure to understand such intricacies of domestic policy could explain why I don't work in government.

A juvenile Darlingtonia californica plant grows in a fen at 8 Dollar Mountain in Josephine County, Oregon

Regardless, 8 Dollar Mountain was saved from the destructive intrusions of two botany enthusiasts that day as logging trucks blasted along new roads carved into the hills above. We didn't know how close we came to the plants at the time but it turns out we were about a five minute walk away from the closest Darlingtonia fen when we were turned away by security personel.

Darlingtonia californica plants grow near the Illinois River at 8 Dollar Mountain in Josephine County, Oregon

It turns out that the Darlingtonia sites around 8 Dollar Mountain are amongst the finest in Oregon. While the more famous sites around the Darlingtonia Wayside in Florence are slipping into oblivion (thanks to vegetative succession presumably spurred on by years of fire surpression and nearby human development), the sites around $8 Mountain have proven either more resilient or better protected.

Darlingtonia californica plants grow in a fen at 8 Dollar Mountain in Josephine County, Oregon

The fen with easiest road access is outfitted with a boardwalk, parking lot, restroom, signage, and other little construction projects beloved by the Forrest Service. I guess it's a sacrificial offering to the tourism bureau.

Darlingtonia californica plants grow near the Illinois River at 8 Dollar Mountain in Josephine County, Oregon

Other sites in the area are unmarked, lacking handicapped access, and appear well preserved. My hope is they will stay that way.

A Darlingtonia californica plant grows near the Illinois River at 8 Dollar Mountain in Josephine County, Oregon

The Darlingtonia here are quite nice in the summer and intensely-colored and well lit by the low angle of the sun in the fall (when I've also photographed $8 Mountain). Mid to late winter is not the most visually promising time to photograph this species (or just about any other vascular plant in Oregon) but still interesting.

A Darlingtonia californica plant grows near the Illinois River at 8 Dollar Mountain in Josephine County, Oregon

Aerial perspective of a Darlingtonia californica fen at 8 Dollar Mountain in winter

I made this image from atop a 20' ladder. If you haven't hiked with an aluminum extension ladder before, doing so may greatly enhance your appreciation of every hike you take without the company of a 20' extension ladder.

The below image is from a previous fall season (when I also did not fall from the ladder, thanks) at approximately the same time of day. The seasonal difference in vegetation is interesting, no?

Aerial perspective of a Darlingtonia californica fen at 8 Dollar Mountain in fall

Written on February 2, 2012