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Marys Peak ACEC

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Marys Peak ACEC
Backpacking Tips
Image by BLMOregon
The Marys Peak ACEC, in the Marys Peak Resource Area, lies in sections 20, 28, 29 and 30 of Township 12 South, Range 7 West, Willamette Meridian. These parcels are in Benton County and approximately 9 air miles west and south of Philomath. The majority of the land surrounding these parcels is Siuslaw National Forest lands.

These parcels contain several unique botanical areas. Near the summit of Marys Peak, located in section 28 is a large grassy meadow, a thin soiled, rock garden habitat with southwesterly aspect, and a noble fir (Abies procera) community. Three of the Natural Area cells identified in the 1975 publication “Research Natural Area Needs in the Pacific Northwest” by Dryness, Franklin, et.al., could be filled in section 28 of the Marys Peak ACEC. These are: Old-growth noble fir forest; Grass bald on Coast Range Mountain; and “Rock Garden” community on Coast Range Mountain.

From Philomath, take Oregon Highway 34 southwest approximately 10 miles to Marys Peak Road (BLM Road 13-7-2; Forest Service Road 30). Turn northwest onto the paved Marys Peak Road. Follow the paved road to the summit (approximately 5 miles on Forest Service Road 30, then 2 miles on Forest Service Road 3010). This road forms the southwest boundary of one of the ACEC parcels commencing at section 29’s eastern boundary and terminating at another of the ACEC parcels which is near the Marys Peak summit. The other two parcels of this ACEC are accessible by hiking from this road along the west and east section lines of Section 20.

The history of Marys Peak is a fascinating one. The peak was probably called “Chintimini” or “Mouse Mountain” by the Kalapuya people who inhabited this area prior to Euro-American settlement. The name became Marys Peak likely as a result of the naming of Marys River in or before 1846. No aboriginal sites have been identified in the area, but Native Americans may have used the area occasionally. The mountain may be mentioned in a Kalapuyan myth and has been identified by an early ethnographer as being a possible site for Native visionquests. These references indicate that Marys Peak was part of the traditional mythology and religious practices of the aboriginal Willamette Valley inhabitants.

Settlers entered the nearby valleys early, and the lands suitable for agriculture were soon taken up in claims. The hilly lands of Marys Peak were not suited to agriculture and remained in the public domain. In 1866 to 1869, lands were granted to the Oregon and California (O&C) Railroad, and one of the parcels in this ACEC became an O&C grant tract. Due to violations in the terms of the O&C grant, these O&C lands eventually were revested in 1916 to the United States government and ultimately became managed as timber lands first by the General Land Office (GLO) and then by its successor, the BLM. The other three ACEC parcels have been managed as public domain (PD) lands by the GLO and the BLM, since Oregon has been part of the United States.

The prominence of Marys Peak led to early interest and entry into the area. A trail from Philomath to Marys Peak was established as early as 1878 and crosses BLM land in section 28. In 1906, the people of Corvallis began using the eastern slopes of Marys Peak as a watershed, and the city began acquiring land in the area. In the 1940’s, the Forest Service acquired the immediate top of Marys Peak, leased land near the top from the city of Corvallis and constructed a picnic ground. In 1942, the first lookout was constructed on the Peak on Forest Service land. Marys Peak road was begun in 1938 and completed in 1941. This road crosses BLM land in sections 28 and 29.

Logging in the Marys Peak vicinity started in the early part of the century and became more intensive in the 1920s. The Spaulding Logging Company operated north of the area and had a logging camp to the north in 1915. No logging occurred on the ACEC public domain tracts. The O&C parcel in section 29 has been subject to logging. In 1945, the Yew Creek Logging Company logged an area including the SE tip of the parcel. In 1958, the Air Force extended the road and placed a radar station on the peak. The Forest Service began management of these buildings when the radar equipment was later removed. Seven structures currently contain electronic communication equipment in the Marys Peak SBA. A powerline crosses the ACEC in section 29, providing power to the electronic sites. The powerline right of way was granted in 1954 and amended in 1958.

This area, with its ready public access, picnic ground, and lookout, became a focal point for recreation activities from nearby Philomath arid Corvallis. Both summer and winter activities occurred, with portable ski tows, operating between 1942 and 1952. While the majority of these recreational activities were and are focused on the Forest Service lands ¬and facilities, the BLM parcels receive some impact in the forms of hiking, scenic viewing, skiing, road construction and maintenance, and other dispersed recreation related activities and services.

In 1977, the U.S.D.A Forest Service, Siuslaw National Forest, released its ¬Marys Peak Planning Unit Final Environmental Statement. This document identified 838 National Forest lands acres, and 115 Bureau of Land Management lands acres suitable for designation as a Scenic Botanical Special Interest Area (SBA). This included those BLM parcels which later became the Marys Peak ACEC. Consultation between the U.S. Forest Service and the BLM on this designation was undertaken during their initial planning.

The U.S. Forest Service recommended this special area designation based on the area’s significant plant communities, its unique scenic quality as the highest peak in the Oregon Coast Range and its high recreation value and heavy recreation use. In their 1986 Proposed Land and Resource Management Plan, the U.S. Forest Service proposed that the Marys Peak Scenic Botanical Special Interest Area be established. Designation as a Scenic Botanical Special Interest Area was achieved with completion of the Siuslaw National Forest Plan.

During the Salem BLM District’s planning activities of the late 1970s, assessment of these parcels for special status was undertaken. The parcels were known to contain the same special values identified as criteria for designation of the adjoining Forest Service lands as a Scenic Botanical Special Interest Area, and that the values and integrity of the SBA could be significantly affected by BLM management of these parcels. Due to the area’s high scenic, botanical, and recreational values and its association with the Siuslaw’s SBA, a proposal to designate these BLM parcels as an Outstanding Natural Area was made in the Salem BLM District’s Management Framework Plan for the Alsea-Rickreall Planning Unit in I981. ACEC/ONA designation for 105 acres was achieved in the Salem District Westside Timber Management Plan Record of Decision in the fall of 1982, with publication of the decision occurring in 1984.

Marys Peak ACEC
Backpacking Tips
Image by BLMOregon
The Marys Peak ACEC, in the Marys Peak Resource Area, lies in sections 20, 28, 29 and 30 of Township 12 South, Range 7 West, Willamette Meridian. These parcels are in Benton County and approximately 9 air miles west and south of Philomath. The majority of the land surrounding these parcels is Siuslaw National Forest lands.

These parcels contain several unique botanical areas. Near the summit of Marys Peak, located in section 28 is a large grassy meadow, a thin soiled, rock garden habitat with southwesterly aspect, and a noble fir (Abies procera) community. Three of the Natural Area cells identified in the 1975 publication “Research Natural Area Needs in the Pacific Northwest” by Dryness, Franklin, et.al., could be filled in section 28 of the Marys Peak ACEC. These are: Old-growth noble fir forest; Grass bald on Coast Range Mountain; and “Rock Garden” community on Coast Range Mountain.

From Philomath, take Oregon Highway 34 southwest approximately 10 miles to Marys Peak Road (BLM Road 13-7-2; Forest Service Road 30). Turn northwest onto the paved Marys Peak Road. Follow the paved road to the summit (approximately 5 miles on Forest Service Road 30, then 2 miles on Forest Service Road 3010). This road forms the southwest boundary of one of the ACEC parcels commencing at section 29’s eastern boundary and terminating at another of the ACEC parcels which is near the Marys Peak summit. The other two parcels of this ACEC are accessible by hiking from this road along the west and east section lines of Section 20.

The history of Marys Peak is a fascinating one. The peak was probably called “Chintimini” or “Mouse Mountain” by the Kalapuya people who inhabited this area prior to Euro-American settlement. The name became Marys Peak likely as a result of the naming of Marys River in or before 1846. No aboriginal sites have been identified in the area, but Native Americans may have used the area occasionally. The mountain may be mentioned in a Kalapuyan myth and has been identified by an early ethnographer as being a possible site for Native visionquests. These references indicate that Marys Peak was part of the traditional mythology and religious practices of the aboriginal Willamette Valley inhabitants.

Settlers entered the nearby valleys early, and the lands suitable for agriculture were soon taken up in claims. The hilly lands of Marys Peak were not suited to agriculture and remained in the public domain. In 1866 to 1869, lands were granted to the Oregon and California (O&C) Railroad, and one of the parcels in this ACEC became an O&C grant tract. Due to violations in the terms of the O&C grant, these O&C lands eventually were revested in 1916 to the United States government and ultimately became managed as timber lands first by the General Land Office (GLO) and then by its successor, the BLM. The other three ACEC parcels have been managed as public domain (PD) lands by the GLO and the BLM, since Oregon has been part of the United States.

The prominence of Marys Peak led to early interest and entry into the area. A trail from Philomath to Marys Peak was established as early as 1878 and crosses BLM land in section 28. In 1906, the people of Corvallis began using the eastern slopes of Marys Peak as a watershed, and the city began acquiring land in the area. In the 1940’s, the Forest Service acquired the immediate top of Marys Peak, leased land near the top from the city of Corvallis and constructed a picnic ground. In 1942, the first lookout was constructed on the Peak on Forest Service land. Marys Peak road was begun in 1938 and completed in 1941. This road crosses BLM land in sections 28 and 29.

Logging in the Marys Peak vicinity started in the early part of the century and became more intensive in the 1920s. The Spaulding Logging Company operated north of the area and had a logging camp to the north in 1915. No logging occurred on the ACEC public domain tracts. The O&C parcel in section 29 has been subject to logging. In 1945, the Yew Creek Logging Company logged an area including the SE tip of the parcel. In 1958, the Air Force extended the road and placed a radar station on the peak. The Forest Service began management of these buildings when the radar equipment was later removed. Seven structures currently contain electronic communication equipment in the Marys Peak SBA. A powerline crosses the ACEC in section 29, providing power to the electronic sites. The powerline right of way was granted in 1954 and amended in 1958.

This area, with its ready public access, picnic ground, and lookout, became a focal point for recreation activities from nearby Philomath arid Corvallis. Both summer and winter activities occurred, with portable ski tows, operating between 1942 and 1952. While the majority of these recreational activities were and are focused on the Forest Service lands ¬and facilities, the BLM parcels receive some impact in the forms of hiking, scenic viewing, skiing, road construction and maintenance, and other dispersed recreation related activities and services.

In 1977, the U.S.D.A Forest Service, Siuslaw National Forest, released its ¬Marys Peak Planning Unit Final Environmental Statement. This document identified 838 National Forest lands acres, and 115 Bureau of Land Management lands acres suitable for designation as a Scenic Botanical Special Interest Area (SBA). This included those BLM parcels which later became the Marys Peak ACEC. Consultation between the U.S. Forest Service and the BLM on this designation was undertaken during their initial planning.

The U.S. Forest Service recommended this special area designation based on the area’s significant plant communities, its unique scenic quality as the highest peak in the Oregon Coast Range and its high recreation value and heavy recreation use. In their 1986 Proposed Land and Resource Management Plan, the U.S. Forest Service proposed that the Marys Peak Scenic Botanical Special Interest Area be established. Designation as a Scenic Botanical Special Interest Area was achieved with completion of the Siuslaw National Forest Plan.

During the Salem BLM District’s planning activities of the late 1970s, assessment of these parcels for special status was undertaken. The parcels were known to contain the same special values identified as criteria for designation of the adjoining Forest Service lands as a Scenic Botanical Special Interest Area, and that the values and integrity of the SBA could be significantly affected by BLM management of these parcels. Due to the area’s high scenic, botanical, and recreational values and its association with the Siuslaw’s SBA, a proposal to designate these BLM parcels as an Outstanding Natural Area was made in the Salem BLM District’s Management Framework Plan for the Alsea-Rickreall Planning Unit in I981. ACEC/ONA designation for 105 acres was achieved in the Salem District Westside Timber Management Plan Record of Decision in the fall of 1982, with publication of the decision occurring in 1984.

Denali Double Rainbow Panorama
Backpacking Tips
Image by Grant Eaton
This double rainbow was a glorious sight I will remember until I die. The weather service said 0% chance of precipitation for three days. But this is Alaska, where weather forecasts aren’t much more accurate than a psychic hotline.

We left our campsite deep in Denali Zone 6 and went for a hike along a braided riverbed. As we headed back, a storm blew in and pelted us with heavy rain. Our cameras got quite wet and you can see the rain drops on our lenses in some of these photos. The sun broke through the clouds as we surmounted the crest of a tall bluff, creating this brilliant and long-lived double rainbow. It was the most spectacular double rainbow I’d ever seen. Looking at these pictures always makes me yearn for the days of that great adventure.

As the rainbow faded away, my partner Ray found an arrowhead or spear-tip on a tall bluff, probably left behind by some of the first human hunters who traveled through this region 10,000 or more years ago. Those first tribes crossed the Aleutian ice bridge to get here. They must have seen wooly mammoths, caribou, and other ice age animals roam this valley floor, which was probably covered by a glacier during that time.

When we finally returned to our tent, we discovered that everything was soaked by the rain because we didn’t set up the rain-fly. It was a difficult lesson learned: When leaving the tent in Alaska, one should always install a rainfly no matter what the forecast says. We dried the sleeping bags out enough to make it through another near-freezing night. An unforgettable day on an unforgettable adventure.